Though the Vikings aren’t playing in the Super Bowl, it doesn’t mean Minnesota’s presence won’t be felt on Feb. 7 when the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
We’ve found nine connections to the Vikings or Minnesota, the most obvious is five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen. Here’s what you should know about who you’re rooting for:
Jared Allen, defensive end: Allen played six seasons with the Vikings (2008-2013), during which he was selected to four Pro Bowls, led the NFL in sacks once (2011) and the NFC twice (2009, 2011), and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year (2011). Allen signed with Chicago as a free agent in March 2014 and spent one full season with the Bears before being traded three weeks into the 2015 season. He was acquired by Carolina in late September for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Allen briefly moved to linebacker for Chicago, but immediately took over the starting role at right defensive end for the Panthers. He had 28 tackles and two sacks for Carolina before breaking a small bone in his foot in the divisional playoff round against Seattle. It had been reported that Allen might require season-ending surgery and he was inactive for Sunday’s NFC Championship game victory over Arizona. However, Allen said he was ready to play and was disappointed with the decision to keep him out of the game. He’ll likely keep fighting to get back on the field for what would be Allen’s first Super Bowl appearance in his 12-year career.
Joe Webb, quarterback: The Vikings selected Webb in the sixth round (No. 199 overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft and considered moving him to wide receiver. However, coach Brad Childress announced Webb would only play quarterback and remained in a backup role his four seasons in Minnesota. He was named the starting quarterback for the Vikings’ 2012 wild-card playoff game, a 24-10 loss at Green Bay, when starter Christian Ponder was sidelined with an elbow injury. Webb signed with Carolina in 2014 and has only made one pass since joining the Panthers. He’s been active every game this season.
Mike Remmers, tackle: The tackle was signed by the Vikings for depth in November 2013, but never played and was released before the next season. Carolina signed Remmers off the St. Louis Rams’ practice squad in 2014 and he started seven games last season for the Panthers. He earned a starting role on the offensive line this season and has started all 18 games during Carolina’s 17-1 run to the Super Bowl. Remmers’ NFL career started with Denver after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2012.
Kurt Coleman, free safety: Coleman signed a one-year deal with the Vikings in April 2014, but was cut at the end of the preseason. The veteran defensive back was picked up by Kansas City days later and went on to lead the team with three interceptions. Coleman signed a two-year contract with Carolina in March 2015 and was one of the best safeties in the NFL this season. He co-led the NFC with seven interceptions in the regular-season, had 55 tackles and nine passes defended. Coleman intercepted two more passes in Sunday’s blowout victory against Arizona and is now tied for the most interceptions in the NFL this season.
David Yankey, guard: The Vikings drafted Yankey, a two-time All-America guard out of Stanford, in the fifth round (No. 145 overall) in 2014. He failed to earn any playing time his rookie year and ended up on the practice squad this season after being waived at the end of training camp. The Vikings reportedly offered to sign Yankey to a futures deal this month, but he instead signed a futures contract with Carolina. He’s currently listed on the Panthers’ reserve/future roster.
Ryan Kalil, center: The Panthers’ Pro Bowl center is the older brother of Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil.
Ryan Harris, tackle: Harris is a Cretin-Derham Hall graduate. He lettered in football and wrestling at the private school in St. Paul before attending Notre Dame where he started at offensive tackle for four seasons. Denver selected Harris in the third round (No. 70 overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the Broncos before jumping around to Philadelphia, back to Denver, to Houston and to Kansas City over the next five years. He returned to Denver for a third time in May 2015 and has played every game this season.
Fred Pagac, outside linebackers coach: Pagac spent eight seasons with the Vikings in various roles. He joined the Vikings in 2006 as the linebackers coach and was named interim defensive coordinator in November 2010 when Leslie Frazier was promoted to interim head coach following the departure of Brad Childress. In January 2011, Pagac was officially named the defensive coordinator, but was reassigned to linebackers a year later. Pagac spent one season with Buffalo before joining Denver’s staff as the outside linebackers coach this season.
Joe Woods, defensive backs coach: Woods joined the Vikings in 2006 as the secondary coach and also spent eight seasons with the franchise. He coached one season with Oakland as the defensive backs coach before joining Denver’s staff in the same role this season.