Jan. 24, 2005
New Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis is headed to the Super Bowl for the second straight season, the third time in four years and the fifth time in his career in the National Football League.
Weis – the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick – joined former Irish standout David Givens (a Patriot wide receiver) and former Irish assistant coach Jim Johnson (the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator) in leading their teams to victories in the NFL conference championship games Sunday.
Others with Irish connections who will be part of Super Bowl XXXIX Feb. 6 in Jacksonville, Fla., include Eagle defensive lineman Paul Grasmanis (he played for the Irish in 1992-95), Patriot linebacker coach Dean Pees (he served as Irish secondary coach in 1994) and Eagles secondary coach Trent Walters (he coached the Irish secondary from 2002-03). The Super Bowl matches the Patriot offense (directed by Weis) against the Eagle defense (directed by Johnson).
Weis saw his offense put up 41 points (most of the season against Pittsburgh) as the Pats dismantled the Steelers 41-27 in Pittsburgh in the AFC title game. The most points the Steelers had allowed before Sunday was 30 – in its only loss, 30-13 at Baltimore on Sept. 19, and in a 33-30 win over the New York Giants on Dec. 18. The Steelers had come into the game ranked first in the AFC in total defense (298.5 yards per game).
Meanwhile, Givens finished with five catches for 59 yards, including a second-period nine-yard scoring reception from Tom Brady to give the Pats a 17-3 advantage. Givens finished the regular season with 56 receptions for 874 yards and three TDs.
Johnson — secondary coach on the ’77 Notre Dame national title team and Irish assistant coach from 1977-83, including defensive coordinator from 1981-83 — helped the Eagles eliminate the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 Sunday in Philadelphia.
Weis will be looking for his fourth Super Bowl champion ring. His Patriots won the Super Bowl a year ago in a 32-29 victory over Carolina in Houston. Weis and the Patriots also won the Super Bowl following the 2001 season in a 20-17 victory over St. Louis in New Orleans (he was the Pats’ offensive coordinator both those seasons). Weis’ third Super Bowl ring came in his first year as a professional assistant with the New York Giants in 1990 when they defeated Buffalo 20-19 in Tampa (he served as a defensive assistant and assistant special teams coach under Bill Parcells). Weis and the Patriots also competed in the Super Bowl following the 1996 season, falling 35-21 to Green Bay in New Orleans (Weis was the Pats’ wide receiver coach that season).