MOUNT PLEASANT - When Joe Staley dons his red No. 74 San Francisco 49ers jersey and takes the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans to battle the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, he will become the eighth former Central Michigan football player to appear on professional football’s grandest stage, the Super Bowl.
Staley, a four-year letterwinner at CMU from 2003-06, joins Jim Bowman, Ray Bentley, Tory Humphrey, Cullen Jenkins, Frank Zombo, Josh Gordy, and Antonio Brown as Chippewas who have vied for the coveted Lombardi Trophy. Humphrey, Jenkins, Zombo, and Gordy are owners of Super Bowl rings.
Staley, a native of Rockford, Mich., came to CMU as a pass-catching tight end and was a self-described liability as a blocker in the run game. Despite his proclivities, then-head coach Brian Kelly convinced a very reluctant Staley to move to the offensive line following his freshman season and the rest is history. Staley grew into the offensive tackle position, both physically and mentally, becoming the backside guardian of CMU’s all-time leading passer, Dan LeFevour. In his senior season of 2006, he helped the Chippewas post 10 wins and capture MAC and Motor City Bowl championships, earning first team all-conference honors for his standout play. Staley became Central Michigan’s first-ever first round NFL draft pick in 2007 when San Francisco took him with the 28th selection.
In six NFL seasons, Staley has risen to the pinnacle of his profession, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl starter status this season. The athletic Staley anchors the 49ers offensive line, widely considered to be among the best in the NFL, from his all-important left tackle spot. In 2012, he was an integral part of a 49ers offense that ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL and topped the league in rushing. Staley also provided stability when San Francisco made a mid-season quarterback change, ensuring that the 49ers offense not only didn’t miss a beat but became more explosive. Behind Staley and his line mates, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has lit the world on fire in the postseason, including rushing for a playoff-record 181 yards in the divisional round.
While a fierce competitor on the gridiron, Staley is also known for his engaging and humorous personality off the field. He regularly entertains fans and teammates as host of “The Joe Show” on 49ers.com. In December, Staley showed off the dexterous footwork needed to play left tackle in the NFL while promoting the video game Just Dance 4 with two of his teammates.
During Super Bowl Media Day earlier this week on Tuesday, Staley’s podium was a popular stop for the mass of press in attendance. He addressed a variety of topics, including sharing the depth of his hesitancy to transition to the offensive line while at CMU, saying that he “cried his eyes out” when he learned the news. Staley even showed off an impression of his head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and poked fun at his quarterback by wearing a fake tattoo sleeve.
Super Bowl XLVII is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff and will be broadcast on CBS to an expected audience of more than 100 million Americans. Worldwide, the game will be aired in more than 185 countries and broadcast in 30 different languages.
Chippewas in the Super Bowl
Jim Bowman (New England Patriots, Super Bowl XX)
Ray Bentley (Buffalo Bills, Super Bowls XXV and XXVI)
Tory Humphrey (New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV)
Cullen Jenkins (Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV)
Frank Zombo (Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV)
Josh Gordy (Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV)
Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XLV)
Joe Staley (San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XLVII)