2 reasons Minnesotans should cheer for the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl

Okay, okay, so “Atlanta Falcons” and “Super Bowl” is still a difficult combination for the people of Minnesota. But if you can put Wide Left and Jan. 17, 1999 behind you, this year’s Falcons give Minnesota two good reasons to cheer for Atlanta over the New England Patriots.

After strong college careers at the University of Minnesota, former Gophers Ra’shede Hageman and De’Vondre Campbell have reunited on the Atlanta Falcons defense. Hageman had 3 tackles in Sunday’s NFC Championship win, including a shoelace sack of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Campbell made two tackles and played a significant role in the Atlanta pass defense.

Yes, if you need a third reason to root for the Falcons, they are the team you can thank for making your Super Bowl party a Packers-free party.

Ra’Shede Hageman played in 12 games for the Falcons this season, starting in 4. He finished the regular season with 11 tackles and 2 sacks. Drafted with the No. 37 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Hageman started his football career at Washburn High School in Minneapolis before playing 4 years with the Gophers – finishing his senior season as a first team all-Big Ten defender.

In his rookie season, De’Vondre Campbell was a starter in 10 of the 11 regular season games he appeared in. He finished the season with 45 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. Campbell was drafted in the 4th Round of the 2016 NFL Draft (No. 115 overall) after 3 seasons with the Gophers. Campbell graduated early from the U and was working toward his master’s degree during his senior season.

The New England Patriots signed former Cretin Derham Hall standout Michael Floyd late this season after he was released from the Arizona Cardinals following a DUI arrest.

Super Bowl LI is on Fox! The game will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston. This is the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history for the Falcons, and a league-record 9th Super Bowl appearance for the Patriots.