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A look at the Arizona sports connections on Super Bowl LV teams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) tries to elude Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers line up to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, players and coaches with Arizona ties will be suiting up for both teams in hopes of taking home the Lombardi trophy. 

From colleges across the state to the Arizona Cardinals, familiar faces will be scattered throughout Raymond James Stadium. 

The Buccaneers have 25 players and coaches with Arizona connections, while the Chiefs have six.

Buccaneers with Arizona ties

HC Bruce Arians: Arians served as the Cardinals head coach for five years from 2013-17. Arians is the winningest coach in Cardinals history, going 49-30-1 in the regular season. His 49 regular-season wins are the most by any coach in Cardinals history. Arians retired after the 2017 season but after a year off returned to coaching in 2019 with the Buccaneers. Arians has gone 21-14, including the playoffs, in his two years in Tampa Bay. 

DC Todd Bowles: Bowles served as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator for two seasons under Arians from 2013-14. During his stint in Arizona, Bowles’ defenses allowed the third-fewest rushing touchdowns, and fifth-fewest points and yards per game. Bowles was named the 2014 Assistant Coach of the Year and became the head coach of the New York Jets. Bowles coached the Jets from 2015-18, and joined Arians’ staff as the Buccaneers defensive coordinator in 2019. 

OC Byron Leftwich: After a 10-year career as a quarterback for the Jaguars, Steelers, Falcons and Bucs, Leftwich started off as a coaching intern with the Cardinals in 2016. He became the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2017 before taking over as interim offensive coordinator in 2018. Leftwich became the Buccaneers offensive coordinator the following season. Tampa Bay has ranked third in total offense in two years under Leftwich. 

TE Rob Gronkowski: Gronkowski, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, played collegiately at Arizona from 2007-09. In two seasons for the Wildcats, Gronkowski hauled in 75 receptions, 1,197 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. During his sophomore year in 2008Gronkowski was named to the All-Pac 10 First Team and was a Third Team All-American. He missed his junior year due to injury and was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. After a one-year retirement, the tight end was traded to Tampa Bay last April. 

OLB Deone Bucannon: Bucannon was selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft and was with the team through 2018. Bucannon was named to the 2014 All-Rookie team and recorded 389 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions in 70 games with the Cardinals. The safety turned linebacker has since spent time with the Falcons, Giants and Buccaneers 

ILB Kevin Minter: Minter was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft. Minter played four years in Arizona, recording 206 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble. Since leaving the Cardinals, the linebacker played for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017 before signing with the Jets. Minter never appeared in a game for New York and was signed by Tampa Bay shortly after the Jets released him. 

QB Blaine Gabbert: The former first-round pick played for the Cardinals in 2017, making five starts. Gabbert went 2-3 as the starter and finished with 1,086 passing yards, six touchdown passes and six interceptions. The quarterback was released after one year in Arizona. 

C A.Q. Shipley: Shipley signed with the Cardinals in 2015, spending five years in the Valley. The center started all 16 games in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Shipley missed the entirety of the 2018 season with a torn ACL. Shipley signed with the Buccaneers, and after suffering a spinal cord injury this past season, was placed on injured reserve and opted to retire. 

G Ted Larson: Larson played in Arizona from 2014-15 where he started 26 games. He started all 16 games in 2014 and missed six games in 2015 due to injury. The guard has appeared in 137 games in his career, starting 88 of them. 

RB T.J. Logan: The running back was with the Cardinals from 2017-18. Logan was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay in 2019 and has been with the team since. Logan is currently on injured reserve.

QB Drew Stanton: Stanton was with the Cardinals from 2013-17. The quarterback was picked up by the Buccaneers this past season and is currently on the practice squad.

OL Earl Watford: Watford was in Arizona from 2013-17. The offensive lineman has appeared in 56 games and made 21 starts in his career and signed with the Buccaneers in 2019. He is currently on the practice squad.

P Matt Wile: The punter appeared in four games for the Cardinals in 2016, his lone season with the team. Wile signed with Tampa Bay in 2020 and is on the practice squad.

OLB coach Larry Foote: The 13-year veteran played his final season with the Cardinals in 2014. The linebacker recorded 83 tackles, two sacks and recovered one fumble in his lone year as a player for the Cardinals. After retiring from playing, Foote immediately joined the Cardinals coaching staff as the inside linebacker’s coach. Foote was elevated to linebackers coach in 2018. He joined the Buccaneers in 2019 and has served as their outside linebackers coach since. 

Assistant HC Harold Goodwin: Goodwin was the Cardinals offensive coordinator from 2013-17. He is currently the Buccaneers assistant head coach and run game coordinator 

TE coach Rick Christophel: Christophel was the Cardinals’ tight ends coach from 2013-17.  

LB coach Mike Caldwell: Caldwell was the Cardinals linebackers coach from 2013-14. 

Assistant to the HC Mike Chiurco: Chiurco was with the Cardinals from 2013-17. He served as assistant to the head coach from 2013-14 before moving to assistant cornerbacks coach from 2015-17. Chiurco spent 2018 working as the head coach at Seton Catholic High School in Chandler, Arizona. He’s been with the Buccaneers since 2019. 

WR coach Kevin Garver: Garver worked as an offensive assistant for the Cardinals from 2013-16 before being promoted to assistant wide receivers coach in 2017. He took over the role as receivers coach the following season and joined the Buccaneers in the same capacity in 2019.

OL coach Joe Gilbert: Gilbert was the offensive line coach for the Arizona Wildcats in 2018. He has been the offensive line coach in Tampa Bay since 2019. 

Strength and conditioning coach Anthony Piroli: Piroli spent three seasons with the Cardinals as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He has been the head strength and conditioning coach in Tampa Bay the past two seasons. 

Speed and conditioning coach Roger Kingdom: Kingdom was an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Cardinals from 2014-17. He has been the Buccaneers speed and conditioning coach since 2019. Kingdom is a former world and American record holder and is one of only two runners to win consecutive Olympic titles in the 110-meter hurdles.

Safeties coach Nick Rapone: Rapone was the cornerbacks coach for the Cardinals from 2013-17. He has been the Buccaneers safeties coach since 2019. 

Assistant coach Tom Moore: Moore was an assistant coach with the Cardinals from 2013-17. He has been with the Buccaneers since 2019 in the same capacity.

DB coach Kevin Ross: Ross was with the Cardinals from 2013-17 as a defensive backs coach. He has been with Tampa Bay the past two seasons in the same role. Ross is a 14-year NFL veteran and spent 11 years playing for the Chiefs. He was inducted into the Chiefs hall of fame in 2011. 

Chiefs with Arizona ties 

S Tyrann Mathieu: The Honey Badger was a fan favorite in Arizona and spent the first five years of his career in the Valley. He played in 66 career games for the Cardinals, recording 11 interceptions, four sacks, and four forced fumbles. Mathieu signed with the Chiefs in 2019 after one year in Houston and has missed one game in two years for the Chiefs. The safety recorded a career-best six interceptions this year. 

DE Alex Okafor: The former Cardinals fourth-round pick played in 31 games over three seasons. Okafor recorded 13.5 sacks during his time in Arizona, eight of which came during his rookie season. The defensive end spent three years in New Orleans before joining the Chiefs in 2019. He recorded three sacks in 11 games this season. 

FB Anthony Sherman: The fullback was drafted by the Cardinals in 2011, but was traded to the Chiefs in 2013 and has spent his career there ever since. Sherman appeared in 28 games for the Cardinals and caught 13 passes for 111 yards.  

DT Mike Pennel: Pennel spent part of his collegiate career at Scottsdale Community College before transferring to Arizona State. The defensive tackle eventually was forced to leave ASU after multiple suspensions. Pennel went undrafted in 2014 and has signed contracts with the Packers, Jets, Patriots and Chiefs. 

TE Ricky Seals-Jones: The wide receiver turned tight end caught 46 passes for 544 yards and four touchdowns during his two years with the Cardinals. Jones played in Arizona from 2017-18 before signing with the Browns in 2019. Jones was picked up by the Chiefs late this season. 

 TE Evan Baylis: Baylis bounced around the Cardinals practice squad and active roster in 2020. The tight end played in 22 snaps this season and was signed to the Chiefs practice squad on Jan. 17.