The Michigan Wolverines will have some critical alumni out on the field Sunday (Jan. 30) afternoon/evening as teams are gearing up for a chance to make it to the holy grail of football, the Super Bowl.
Former Michigan quarterback Chad Henne and his Kansas City Chiefs will host the up-and-coming Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Field in the AFC Championship. Henne is the backup to Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, and although he doesn’t see the field anymore, the 12-year veteran has been the consummate pro.
Before you scoff at the previous sentence about how important Henne is to his team, let’s take a look back to the 2020 AFC Divisional Round vs. Donovan Peoples Jones and his Cleveland Browns.
Mahomes was concussed and later ruled out for the remainder of the game when Henne was called upon to lead the high powered Chiefs. It was 3rd down with 14 yards to go at the 2-minute warning. The Chiefs held a 22-17 lead. With their chances to repeat as champions on the line, Henne scrambled left for 13 yards.
With the game on the line, Kansas City put their season in Henne’s hands-on 4th and inches, and as you know, in life, Henne-thing is possible as Andy Reid called a sprint right option to wide receiver Tyreek Hill for the win.
Teammate Frank Clark was quiet last week vs. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, but the seven-year veteran and former Wolverine made a name for himself in 2018 when he recorded 13 sacks with the Seattle Seahawks.
For the Cincinnati Bengals it’s former Michigan running back Chris Evans. The rookie is slotted as a return specialist. He spells lead dog Joe Mixon and backup Samaje Perine from time to time, but he is still elusive with magnificent hands. Just ask the Detroit Lions.
Speaking of the Lions, how about Matthew Stafford as an honorable mention? The former Lions quarterback was named an honorary member of the University of Michigan in 2012 when he attended former offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson’s C.S. Mott fundraiser.
Stafford placed a $15,000 bid for a VIP package he initially donated to the event. The package featured six Monday Night Football tickets to see his Lions face off against the Chicago Bears that season -- he later gifted the deal to a Mott patient that sat beside him at the event.
Stafford’s good deeds are one of the main reasons Lions fans continue to root for him even though he is playing for another team.
Just ask AJ Ferenz from Muskegon, Michigan. The superfan was captured on video by his girlfriend going berserk from excitement when Stafford hit Cooper Kupp deep in the waning seconds of their Divisional Round matchup vs. fellow Wolverine Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The video went viral as it reached three million views in a matter of days.
The Rams organization saw the clip and decided to gift Ferenz and his girlfriend with two tickets to Los Angeles to watch Stafford and former Wolverines cornerback David Long Jr. face off against fellow Wolverines Mo Hurst, Ambry Thomas, Jarrod Wilson, and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship.
Winners of Sunday’s (Jan. 30) matchups will advance to Super Bowl LVI at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles.
So Michiganders, which former Michigan Wolverines athlete would you like to see hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy?