Feb. 2, 2004
Houston, Texas – The Notre Dame football program had a stellar day on Sunday as former Irish and current New England Patriots receiver David Givens caught a touchdown pass in New England’s 32-29 win in Super Bowl XXXVIII, while former running back Julius Jones won the Capital One College Football All-Star Challenge.
Givens, who played for the Irish from 1998-2001, finished the game with five receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown. Givens gave the Patriots a 14-7 lead with 49 seconds to go in the first half when he pulled in a five-yard toss from Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Tom Brady. Givens’ touchdown concluded a six-play, 78-yard drive for the Patriots giving them a 14-10 halftime lead.
The native of Humble, Texas, located just outside of Houston, Givens gave his hometown fans something to cheer about when he caught two key passes, one on a third- and-nine play, which eventually resulted in a New England touchdown, giving the Patriots a 29-22 lead with 6:47 to go in the game.
Givens becomes the 28th former Notre Dame player to win a Super Bowl ring and joins the likes of other Notre Dame greats Joe Montana (4 rings), Rocky Bleier (4 rings), Dave Duerson (two), Mark Bavaro (two), Dave Caspar, Derrick Mayes, Joe Theismann and Bryant Young.
Jones, who finished his career fourth on the Notre Dame rushing list in 2003, was one of eight players selected to participate in the College Football All-Star Challenge at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The native of Big Stone Gap, Va., was teamed with former Pittsburgh quarterback Rod Rutherford for the event as each team consisted of one quarterback and one wide receiver or one running back. There were four separate events within the Challenge and scores were cumulative, leading to one overall winner.
The team of Michigan State’s Jeff Smoker and Michigan’s Chris Perry jumped out to an early lead after Smoker won the passing accuracy contest. Rutherford struggled in the passing accuracy putting he and Jones third after event one. In the second event, the obstacle course, Jones finished second to Perry as Smoker and Perry extended their overall lead, while Jones and Rutherford were still in third.
The third event was where Rutherford and Jones turned the competition around as Rutherford was the only quarterback to score both of his tosses on the landing strip, posting a long throw of 63 yards. Smoker finished last in the event, but kept the overall lead. With the win, Rutherford and Jones inched closer into second place, only three points behind.
In the final event, the direct connect challenge, the teams worked together in completing five passes. Jones and Rutherford were second to last to go and were perfect catching all five passes. Smoker and Perry were next and missed one ball causing the two teams to be tied in the final overall score. According to the rules, the team that wins the final event wins the overall competition, thus Rutherford and Jones were the 2004 winners.
Note: Although he did not play football or any other sports at Notre Dame, New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is a ’78 graduate of the University, earning a degree in education and communications. Weis, a native of Trenton, N.J., and Middlesex High School, has coached 14 seasons in the NFL and is in his eighth season with the Patriots.