You all know the main story lines from Super Bowl XLVI, a game in which the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17. But do you know Chase Blackburn?
It is incredible how life works sometimes. Blackburn was a main stay on the Giants for several years, mostly contributing as a special teams player.
However, in 2011 the Giants showed a clear desire to improve their linebacking corps and, instead of Blackburn, they kept four rookies as backups after training camp, sending Blackburn to the unemployment line.
When no team called Blackburn to give him a shot, he turned to substitute math teaching at a middle school to make ends meet. And just when he thought he was going to become a full time teacher at his old high school, the Giants came calling in November.
Right before they were set to take on the undefeated Green Bay Packers, the Giants signed Blackburn and that week he suited up and started at middle linebacker.
Wouldn’t you know it, he ended up making a huge play when he intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass and returned it close enough to set up a Giants touchdown (he also picked up and returned the Ryan Grant fumble in the playoff game that sealed the victory over the Packers).
So with Blackburn making a number of big plays leading up to the Super Bowl, not to mention anchoring the Giants successful run defense for the entire time he was with the team, why wouldn’t he make the lone turnover forced in the big game?
With the Giants down 17-15 early in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady scrambled around and saw Rob Gronkowski running down the middle of the field one-on-one with, you guessed it, Chase Blackburn.
Now, the Patriots would take that match up 100 times out of 100, but on this play the math teacher would come up big.
Blackburn was able to track down the ball and make a play, giving the Giants possession back at a key moment. Even with the odds stacked against him, with the 6’7” Gronkowski hanging over him, Blackburn made it happen.
“I don’t know what the odds were on me coming down with the ball, but I know I wanted it when it was up there,” Blackburn said after the game. “I never thought about just knocking it down. When I saw I had a chance to intercept it, I wanted it.”
There is a motivational lesson to be learned from Chase Blackburn, the substitute math teacher turned Super Bowl hero.