San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick certainly captured the imagination and attention of northern Nevada in this year's Super Bowl.
Kaepernick, though, is just the latest in a long line of former Nevada Wolf Pack players who have played a big part in the NFL's championship game. He is the seventh former Pack player to play in a Super Bowl after Terry Hermeling, Doug Betters, Frank Hawkins, Charles Mann, Derrek Kennard and Brock Marion.
But before there was a Super Bowl, there was a NFL championship game.
The first Wolf Pack player to appear in a NFL title game was offensive lineman Vic Carroll for the Washington Redskins in 1937. Carroll and the Redskins, thanks to Sammy Baugh's three touchdown passes, beat the Chicago Bears 28-21 in the franchise's first season in Washington.
Carroll played football and basketball for the Pack from 1931-34 and played in the NFL from 1936-42 with the Redskins and 1943-47 with the New York Giants. He was named All Pro in 1942 and played in six NFL championships games in 1937, 1939, 1940 and 1942 with the Redskins and 1944 and 1946 with the Giants.
Bill Mackrides was the next former Pack player to be a part of a NFL title game. Mackrides was the backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1947, 1948 and 1949 championship games. Mackrides, though, didn't get into any of the three games, playing behind starter Tommy Thompson.
There was a former Wolf Pack player that did get on the field in the 1949 game between the Los Angeles Rams and Eagles. Tommy Kalmanir carried the ball twice for the Rams that day for no yards.
The 1950 and 1951 NFL title games each had three former Pack players. Marion Motley started at fullback for the Cleveland Brown, Horace Gillom was the Browns' punter and Kalmanir played for the Rams.
Motley carried the ball six times that day for nine yards, Gillom caught a 29-yard pass and punted five times for an average of 38.4 yards and Kalmanir returned a kickoff 32 yards and a punt for no gain. The Browns beat the Rams 30-28.
Motley, Gillom and Kalmanir met again the very next season in the NFL championship game in 1951. Motley gained 23 yards n five carries and caught a 23-yard pass, Gillom punted four times for a 37-yard average and Kalmanir returned two punts for no yards as the Browns won 24-17.
Motley also played in the 1952 title game against Detroit. He ran the ball six times for 74 yards, caught three passes for 21 yards and even tossed an incomplete pass as the Lions won 17-7. Motley was also part o the Browns' 1953 team that went to the title game but he didn't play in the 17-16 loss to Detroit because of an injury.
Gillom, though, did play in the 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955 NFL championship games for the Browns, giving him appearances in six title games.
He caught one pass for eight yards and punted three times for an average of 43.3 yards, with a long punt of 62 yards, in 1952. In 1953 he punted five times for an average of 42.6. He punted four times for an average of 43.0 in 1954 and averaged 42.7 yards on three punts in 1955.
Gillom and Motley also played for the Browns in the All America Football Conference. The AAFC existed only from 1946-49 and the Browns won the championship all four seasons. Motley played in all four Browns' AAFC title games and Gillom played in the last three.