BALTIMORE, Md. — Every football player’s dream is about to become reality for a couple guys from Maryland.
"We’re sitting here days away from playing in the biggest game that this sports has to offer," said Damascus native Jake Funk.
He is, of course, talking about the Super Bowl. Funk and Antoine Brooks Jr. are at its doorstep. The former Maryland Terrapins both play on special teams for the Los Angeles Rams. Funk is a rookie on the active roster. Brooks is in his second pro season. He’s on the practice squad and has a couple games under his belt in the playoffs.
The duo is fully aware of how fortunate they are just to get to this point within their first two NFL seasons.
"We understand that it does take a lot to get here and the fact that people have entire careers and don’t even make it to one, the playoffs, and two, the Super Bowl. You grow to appreciate the moment a little bit more," said Funk.
It has been a fairy tale season for the running back. He was drafted in the seventh and final round last spring. He played his way onto the Rams' roster. This was after overcoming two ACL tears in the same knee during his time with the Terps.
"You couldn’t imagine the things that you can do if you continue to just live out your dreams and commit what you do every day on a day-to-day basis to that dream and to that goal," he said. "Anything is possible."
"Anything is possible. We’re sitting here days away from playing in the biggest game that this sports has to offer."— Shawn Stepner (@StepnerWMAR) February 10, 2022
I caught up with Maryland natives and #Terps @jakefunk34 & @TwanDoee days before they take part in #SuperBowlLVI w/the #Rams.@TerpsFootball @umterps #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/uxwRnHhYAE
Brooks played last season in Pittsburgh before coming to L.A. The Lanham native is looking forward to that first kick that gets Super Bowl LVI underway. That’s when he’ll know it’s for real.
"I think one of my favorite moments is when we go on kickoff on special teams and we are all talking to each other, 'Hey, we’re running fast, about to run fast, let’s go. We know what we’re doing. We’re here together now. It's our time'," he said.
When that happens what will be staring back at them? How do they size up the Bengals special teams?
"They are more physical and finish," said Brooks. "When you have a finishing team that will take you a long way."
Who do Maryland football fans root for on Sunday?
"What I will say is, I know our boy Keandre [Jones] is on Cincinnati. But, there are more Maryland Terrapins here in L.A. than there are in Cincinnati," said Funk. "So, I’m hoping that we can pull some more Maryland fans for the L.A. Rams on Sunday."
And hoping to follow it up with a parade and a ring.
Other Maryland ties to Super Bowl LVI:
-Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein (Mt. Airy)
-Rams practice squad cornerback Blake Countess (Owings Mills)
-Bengals linebacker Keandre Jones (Olney/University of Maryland)
-Bengals offensive tackle Isaiah Prince (Greenbelt)
-Bengals nose tackle Zach Kerr (Gaithersburg)