When the Seattle Seahawks take the field to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, two Seahawks will be on the verge of writing a new page in the Canadian record books.
Tight end Luke Willson (LaSalle, ON) and punter Jon Ryan (Regina, SK) were both a part of the Seahawks’ first-ever Super Bowl win last year and have had a huge impact in this year’s playoff run. This Sunday, they will be looking to become just the second and third Canadians to have won back-to-back Super Bowls.
Kicker Roy Gerela (Powell River, B.C.) was the first Canadian to accomplish the feat. He helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win their first two championships in Super Bowls IX and X (he also was a part of their Super Bowl XIII win).
Willson and Ryan each had a significant contribution to help the Seahawks reach their second straight Super Bowl. Ryan sparked the Seahawks’ fourth quarter comeback over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game two weekends ago. He threw a touchdown pass on a fake field goal kick for to become the first punter in NFL history to throw a postseason touchdown.
Later in the quarter, Luke Willson put his stamp on the game by catching a miraculous two-point conversion to put the Seahawks up 22-19 late in the game. The two points turned out to be key, as the Packers would score a field goal late in the game to tie it and send it to overtime, where Seattle eventually sealed the win. If the Seahawks had kicked an extra point instead of successfully getting the two points, they would have likely ended up losing the game 22-21.
Willson, a 2013 5th round draft pick, grew up playing football as well as baseball. He was a part of the Canadian Junior Baseball team that played to a 6th place finish at the IBAF 18U World Cup in Edmonton. He was also drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays but decided to pursue a career in football instead. It looks like he made the right decision.
Jon Ryan played mostly football growing up, but found success at several different positions. In high school he played running back, punter and placekicker. Then in college, he was the punter as well as a wide receiver for the University of Regina Rams. He led the team in receiving during his sophomore season and was later named a CIS All-Star in his senior year.
The CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers drafted Ryan 24th overall in 2004, but he would only play two seasons for them before being signed by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. He was released by the Packers in 2008 and would eventually sign with the Seahawks, where he’s had much success.
Hopefully both Willson and Ryan will be writing their names in the history books this weekend by adding another Super Bowl ring to their collections. If you’re Canadian and need a team to cheer for, then hop on the Seahawks bandwagon. This Sunday, they may be the closest Canada ever gets to having an NFL team.