Jan. 17, 2005
New Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis joined former Irish standouts Jerome Bettis, Allen Rossum and David Givens and former Irish assistant coach Jim Johnson over the weekend in leading their respective teams to victories and slots in the conference championship games of the National Football League playoffs next Sunday.
Weis, offensive coordinator of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, saw Givens score the Patriots’ first touchdown and finish with four catches for 26 yards as New England knocked off the Indianapolis Colts 20-3 Sunday in Foxboro.
Meanwhile, Johnson — secondary coach on the `77 Notre Dame national title team and currently the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator — helped the Eagles eliminate the Minnesota Vikings 27-14 Sunday in Philadelphia.
On Saturday, Rossum set an NFL playoff record with 152 punt return yards — including one return for a touchdown — as his Atlanta team blasted the St. Louis Rams 47-17 in Atlanta.
Bettis ran for 101 yards on the ground to help his Pittsburgh Steelers hold off the New York Jets Saturday by a 20-17 count in overtime in Pittsburgh.
Other former Irish players participating in the NFL divisional playoffs included running back Joey Goodspeed (St. Louis), offensive guard Jim Jones (Pittsburgh), defensive back Vontez Duff (Pittsburgh), defensive back Gerome Sapp (Indianapolis), running back Tom Lopienski (Indianapolis), punter Hunter Smith (Indianapolis), defensive lineman Paul Grasmanis (Philadelphia) and offensive lineman Mike Rosenthal (Minnesota).
Irish players who participated in the NFL Wild Card round the previous weekend included many of the above players and coaches, plus offensive lineman Brennan Curtin and running back Tony Fisher (Green Bay Packers) and cornerback Bobby Taylor (Seattle Seahawks).
Other former Notre Dame assistant coaches who have been involved in the NFL playoffs include: George Stewart (Atlanta Falcons receivers), Kirk Doll (Denver Broncos special teams), Johnny Roland (Green Bay Packers running backs), Kurt Schottenheimer (Green Bay defensive backs), Pete Bercich (Minnesota Vikings linebackers assistant), Dean Pees (New England Patriots linebackers), Bishop Harris (New York Jets running backs), Trent Walters (Philadelphia Eagles secondary) and Mike Stock (St. Louis Rams special teams).