Two Local Players Set For Super Bowl 54- Reggie Ragland For The Chiefs and Jordan Matthews For The 49ers
MIAMI, Fla.- Dreams do come true. For both Reggie Ragland and Jordan Matthews, just being a part of their childhood dreams of playing in the NFL’s Super Bowl is enough to excite even the most elite professional athletes.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, Ragland’s Kansas City Chiefs and Matthews’ San Francisco 49ers will square off in Super Bowl 54 from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The Chiefs head into the matchup as 1.5 point favorites.
Ragland, who played at Bob Jones High before playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide, said he’s always wanted to play in the big game and feels he’s ready as he’s used to high glamorous games as a player.
“I played in both the Iron Bowl and National Championship Game at Alabama and now the Super Bowl is a great honor as not too many players have played in all three games,” said Ragland. “Everything I have gone through and will go through at the Super Bowl I’m am very appreciative. I’ve given myself a chance and I tell kids everywhere I go to not give up-don’t let anyone tell them you can’t do what you want to do.”
The 6-foot-2, 252-pound linebacker wears No. 59 for the red and white Chiefs and said his past experiences in college help him keep his emotions under control in a big game like the Super Bowl. He added, “Those big games were a test run for what I’m going through now.”
Mathews began the 2019 season with the 49ers and was released twice within a two-month period, but was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles Nov. 25. He played two games with four catches as wide receiver before being released four weeks later. At that time he didn’t think he would signed again and his play was done in the NFL since he was signed and released three times in four months. He was signed by San Francisco on Dec. 11 to the practice squad. He is among the 53-player active roster, but the Niners only carry five wide receivers for games and Matthews is sixth on the depth chart. Unless an injury occurs to other receivers, he’s not expected to dress out for the game, but is ready and able should the situation arise.
“I’ve honestly kept faith with Christ and that has held me together through my season and I feel I have so many blessings in front of me and that confidence has made me stronger,” said Matthews, who wears No. 81. “When I played this game as a kid, the game would evolve me, but now as an adult I look at it much different.”
Matthews, who is married to his wife, Cheynna, who is a professional soccer player and together they have a one-year old son. They currently make their home in Nashville and it was there he spent a lot of time away from the game in between stents with teams during the most recent regular season. During his stay-at-home dad tenure, he applied for graduate school and did the regular things a husband and father does.
“I was at home putting up our Christmas tree and other decorations, reading the biography of Malcom X and listening to Kenny G music. I had no idea I’d get a call that has put me in the mix for the Super Bowl,” said Matthews, 27.
The call came in from the Niners who wanted the 6-3, 215-pound receiver to immediately head west and be ready to play.
Ragland’s 2019 campaign was in somewhat similar circumstances with the Chiefs as his year did not start out as planned. He missed several games, but he stuck with his conviction of knowing he could play and make a difference for the squad that is thought of as more of an offensive machine behind star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. His playing in Super Bowl 54 will give Alabama the honor of having an alumnus on a Super Bowl roster for 16 consecutive years. Seven of those have won Super Bowls.
“The time I knew we had a great chance at making the Super Bowl came during the regular season when Pat went down with a leg injury and we all stepped up and showed what kind of team we have,” said Ragland. “Our leader was out, but we knew we could pull through. I’m healthy and both my mind and body is ready to compete.”
The game will mark the same date of something personal which happened in the Ragland family four years ago. He asked not to divulge the details, but said he is motivated to play his best. He will have eight members of his immediate family in attendance and said he owes everything to his father and mother.
“My dad was the enforcer in our family while my mother was the real backbone among us,” added Ragland, who purchased a new suit for his trip to Miami.
For Matthews, basketball was his real love as he played both football and basketball at Madison Academy before he signed to play football at Vanderbilt. He set numerous SEC records while with the Commodores. He didn’t see himself as a NFL player until his junior season with Vandy.
“I’m a blessed individual and I’m very optimistic about my future, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the moment and I’m excited just to be a part of such a grand event,” said Matthews, who plans on studying sports administration at Northwestern with hopes of one day working at his alma mater in Nashville.
Matthews is in his sixth season in the NFL while Ragland is playing in season number four. Both feel their team is headed to a Super Bowl win and the championship ring that comes with a victory.
“The text messages and phone calls I’ve received has been overwhelming, and I appreciate all the thoughts of others in my road to the Super Bowl,” said Ragland. “I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms and this is by-far the best as we have fun and we enjoy what we do. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
“My experience with San Francisco has been great as the players and front office have been superb, the best I’ve experienced,” said Matthews. “The entire team has been honest with me. I look forward to the game and this a great feeling and the culmination of years of hard work starting at Madison Academy.”