Road to Super Bowl LVI started in Metro Detroit for one Cincinnati Bengals player

Local 4 is your only home for Super Bowl 56

We’re getting closer to kickoff in Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles as the game is just four days away. The game will be held at Sofi Stadium as the Los Angeles Rams will play host to the Cincinnati Bengals right here on Local 4 at 6:30 p.m. There will be a special local connection out on the field when the game begins, and no, it’s not Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions fans, but instead, meet Khalid Kareem. Kareem got started on football fields here in Metro Detroit. Come Sunday, he will be on the field for the Bengals, realizing a dream.

DETROIT – We’re getting closer to kickoff in Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles as the game is just four days away. The game will be held at Sofi Stadium as the Los Angeles Rams will play host to the Cincinnati Bengals right here on Local 4 at 6:30 p.m.

There will be a special local connection out on the field when the game begins, and no, it’s not Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions fans, but instead, meet Khalid Kareem.

Kareem got started on football fields here in Metro Detroit. Come Sunday, he will be on the field for the Bengals, realizing a dream.

Back in 2015, Kareem was a heavily-recruited defensive end from Harrison High School. He had nearly 40 college offers, including every team in the Big Ten. Now, he’s headed to the Super Bowl with the Bengals.

What a journey for him and his family.

“I was his defensive coordinator and defensive line coach,” said father, Ken Kareem. “I was always right there with him.”

Ken Kareem says they both started in the game together, and It was clear early on that Khalid Kareem had a gift.

“He picked up the game really quickly,” Ken Kareem said. “I look at six and seven-year-olds, and I’m like, ‘they’re babies,’ and I’ll be thinking about Khalid like ‘this dude was hitting quarterbacks.’”

A defensive end from the beginning, Khalid Kareem honed his craft through the ranks with the Southfield Ravens of the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) and Harrison High School soon after that.

Once he arrived there, dad decided to help out in Khalid’s recruiting.

“I would be in his room, going through the whole roster of coaches on every team and go through each conference,” Ken Kareem said. “We started with the MAC, and then we’d go through the Big Ten, Pac-12. We would literately go through every team and just blast his film every week. Sometimes twice a week. After that, I would start calling. They were not answering or not picking up.”

Soon the Kareem’s could not stop the calls from coming.

It started with offers from Bowling Green, then Northwestern, then every team in the Big Ten Conference. Nearly 40 in all and could have been more.

Khalid Kareem initially committed to Alabama but later decided to play for Notre Dame.

“We felt like Notre Dame was the best thing,” Khalid Kareem said. “That atmosphere, that school.”

Khalid Kareem thrived with the Fighting Irish, becoming a team captain. He almost went to the NFL Draft his junior year, but instead, he came back for his degree.

He got injured that year, which hurt his draft stock. In 2020, he was picked in the fifth round.

Draft day was a family affair.

“He turned and looked at me and said, ‘Cincinnati,’ Ken Kareem said. “We all got excited. I jumped on the computer ordered a bunch of Cincinnati Bengals stuff.”

Since that moment, the Kareem family has traveled to numerous NFL stadiums supporting Khalid and the Bengals.

Of course, they were there in Kansas City when their trip to Super Bowl LVI became official.

“He Facetimed me,” said Ken Kareem. “We didn’t even talk. “Just shook our heads as both of us had tears in our eyes. Looking at the phone and it’s him, like, ‘what the heck just happened?’ You’re going to the Super Bowl, bro.”

This football journey which started years ago in Detroit between a father and a son comes full circle on the biggest stage.

“Even his first snap, I will probably be emotional,” said Ken Kareem.

And remember, Local 4 is your only home for Super Bowl 56. The game gets underway Sunday at 6:30 p.m.


About the Authors:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.