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Florida Gators in the NFL: Who will earn Super Bowl rings?

Multiple Gators are getting a championship no matter who wins.

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs Media Availability Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Carlos Dunlap spent 10 — and a half — seasons in Cincinnati. During his time there, the Bengals reached the playoffs five times — and lost in the wild card round every trip.

Dunlap was traded to Seattle in 2020 and helped the Seahawks win six of their last seven to claim the NFC West title. Once again, though, Dunlap’s team was knocked out in the wild card round.

If you’re keeping track: That was six trips to the postseason, zero wins.

This offseason, Dunlap signed with Kansas City, a team that had made four straight AFC Championship Games and two Super Bowls. At his introductory press conference, he stated three remaining career goals.

Dunlap crossed his first goal off the list back in November with his 100th career sack against Jacksonville.

Then, after 203 games across 13 regular seasons and those six playoff losses, Dunlap finally tasted postseason victory when the Chiefs knocked off those same Jaguars in the divisional round.

As the article in the tweet above mentions, that was the one-year anniversary of the death of Dunlap’s father. Carlos Dunlap Sr. was a huge part of his son’s life and football journey.

That tragedy has weighed heavily on Dunlap. His late father has obviously been on his mind as he prepares for the biggest game of his career.

Dunlap spoke with the media a couple of times this week. I listened in at Opening Night ceremonies on Monday and then on Tuesday, Dunlap spoke at the Chiefs’ team hotel. He talked about how his father would want him to get it done Sunday and celebrate with his family, finishing off the last of those three goals he set for himself and promised his father he’d achieve.

“100 sacks, playoff game. We’re on track,” he said. “My vision was clear on what I set my sights and my heart on, and I look forward to wearing all of that on my sleeve on Sunday.”

“If you can see, I’m shaking right now because I just can’t wait.”

Don’t think his teammates aren’t aware of Dunlap’s long journey. Obviously, Kansas City doesn’t need any extra motivation as they seek their second championship in four years, but Carlos’s path helps add a different perspective.

Super Bowl LVII Preview

Four former Gators will play key roles in Super Bowl LVII. It’s the 21st consecutive year a UF alum is playing in the Super Bowl, and for the ninth season out of the past 11, a Florida man will hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Including the three additional former Gators on the Eagles’ and Chiefs’ practice squads, Florida has seven players involved in the big game, tied with Oklahoma for the most of any college.

All four of the active players will have crucial roles in determining who ultimately wins. I’ve been in Arizona all week; here’s our preview of what to expect from each guy.

Kansas City Chiefs

Carlos Dunlap

Championship Round: 2 QB hits, 40 snaps (61%), 3 ST snaps (11%)

Postseason: 2 tackles, 2 QB hits

Regular Season: 4 sacks, 39 tackles, 8 PD, 6 TFL, 12 QB hits, 1 FF

Dunlap did not record a tackle in the AFC championship game against Joe Burrow and the Bengals, but he had seven quarterback pressures and two QB hits. His ability to impact the game goes beyond racking up tackles and sacks.

Dunlap will play a critical role in containing Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. He’ll have to set the edge against the read option and limit Hurts ability to escape the pocket and make plays with his league. And while containing Hurts and the best rushing attack in the NFL is likely the first priority, Dunlap will be a factor in the passing game as well as the league leader among defensive lineman in passes defended.

Kadarius Toney

Championship Round: 1 rec (2 targets), 9 yards, 1 PR, 12.0 avg, 4 snaps (6%)

Postseason: 6 rec (9 targets), 45 yards, 1 rush 14 yards, 4 PR, 8.8 avg

Regular Season: 16 rec (20 targets), 171 yards, 2 TD, 7 rush, 82 yards, TD, 10 PR, 6.1 avg

Kansas City’s final injury report this week was empty. That means that Kadarius Toney’s ankle and hamstring are healed and he’s good to go. Of course, Toney’s injury history makes it hard to trust him as a Super Bowl factor.

However, it’s undeniable that Toney’s talent makes him an intriguing pick as an x-factor. Despite not arriving in KC until week nine and continually batting those injuries, Toney has established some chemistry with Patrick Mahomes that could lead to a big game.

Look for Toney to see touches on jet sweeps and quick passes into space. He’ll likely return to his role as the primary punt returner as well. One other area he could have an impact? Following in fellow Gator Trey Burton’s footsteps.

It would be pretty incredible — if more than a little silly — for the Chiefs to have their own version of Philly Philly in store for, y’know, Philly.

Tommy Townsend

Championship Round: 4 punts, 37.8 avg

Postseason: 8 punts, 44.3 avg

Regular Season: 53 punts, 50.4 avg

Tommy Townsend has been in the league for three years and is already playing in his second Super Bowl. He earned his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections this year and if called upon, he’ll deliver. Of course, the Chiefs hope his role is a minor one.

Chiefs Practice Squad

La’Mical Perine was signed to the Chiefs’ practice squad before the AFC title game. He has practiced with them leading up to the big game but won’t be elevated to the active roster.

Philadelphia Eagles

C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Championship Round: 5 tackles, 42 snaps (91%)

Postseason: 8 tackles, 1 PD

Regular Season: 6 INT, 54 return yards, 67 tackles, 1 sack, 8 PD, 5 TFL, 2 QB hits

The Eagles defense is defined by their dominant pass rush. But I’m not the only one who believes that it’s actually C.J. Gardner-Johnson who is the heart and soul of the D.

Ceedy Duce’s swagger is infectious. But his talk has been backed up by his play. Travis Kelce is an impossible matchup regardless of the defender. Kelce is going to get his, but so too will Gardner-Johnson.

Expect to see him lined up all over the field. He’ll match up with Kelce quite a bit, but will also see action against KC’s receivers, and will come down to the line of scrimmage to help in the run game. As former Eagle and Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins says, he’s the ultimate chess piece.

One of the game’s great trash talkers has been filming everything he can this week. If the Eagles win, his personal movie is going to be a must-see.

And on a local note, via Andy, there’s definitely a spot where it will stream, as Gardner-Johnson’s mother has been hard at work opening a new, bigger restaurant than her popular Cafe Krewe 22 — Ceedy’s number and his visage from his Saints days adorn the door, and the name pays homage to NOLA’s Krewes and his jersey number — in Rockledge, Florida.

While permitting issues have kept the new venture from serving food for its Super Bowl watch party as intended, the name — King’s Grill — will be appropriate if the Eagles soar.

Eagles Practice Squad

Fred Johnson joined the Eagles’ practice squad midway through the season, while Tyrie Cleveland signed with Philly a few weeks ago. Neither will be activated on Sunday.