Amid the game preparations and crush of off-field obligations of Super Bowl week, Rams quarterback Jared Goff did not lose sight of a significant piece of college football history.
Asked during Thursday’s final media session what the names Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, Vince Ferragamo and Aaron Rodgers mean to him, Goff said, “Yeah, all the Cal guys to play in the Super Bowl, right? So exciting. I think we have five now, two more than the next school. Good for the Cal Bears.”
Goff will be the fifth former Cal quarterback to start the Super Bowl, following Kapp, Morton, Ferragamo and Rodgers. Though New England Patriots veteran Tom Brady is playing in his ninth Super Bowl, he’s the only former Michigan quarterback to start the game.
Alabama, with Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler; Notre Dame, with Daryle Lamonica, Joe Montana and Joe Theismann; and Purdue, with Len Dawson, Bob Griese and Drew Brees, rank second with three Super Bowl quarterbacks.
Seven schools — UCLA (Billy Kilmer, Troy Aikman), Stanford (Jim Plunkett, John Elway), Brigham Young (Jim McMahon, Steve Young), Maryland (Boomer Esiason, Neil O’Donnell), Washington State (Mark Rypien, Drew Bledsoe), Delaware (Rich Gannon, Joe Flacco) and Boston College (Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Ryan) — have two.
A closer look at the five Cal quarterbacks to start the Super Bowl:
At Cal: The forward pass wasn’t really a thing when Kapp, now 80, was in college. In 30 games over three seasons (1956-58) at Cal, Kapp attempted all of 286 passes, completing 146 for 1,896 yards and seven touchdowns. But Kapp helped transform the Bears from a Pacific Coast Conference doormat — Cal went 4-16 in his first two seasons — to a PCC power that went 7-4 in 1959, defeated USC, UCLA and Stanford and lost to Iowa 38-12 in the Rose Bowl. Kapp logged eight seasons in the Canadian Football League before reaching the NFL in 1967.
In the Super Bowl: Kapp was not known for throwing the prettiest of passes — some traveled end over end or were as wobbly as wounded ducks — but he was proficient enough in 1969 to help the Minnesota Vikings, with their Purple People Eaters defense, to a 12-2 record and playoff wins over the Rams and Cleveland Browns. But the Vikings were no match for the Kansas City Chiefs in a 23-7 Super Bowl IV loss in Tulane Stadium. Kapp completed 16 of 25 passes for 183 yards, was sacked three times for a loss of 27 yards, had two passes intercepted and lost a fumble.
At Cal: Morton played three years (1962-64) at Cal under coach Marv Levy and assistant Bill Walsh, both future Hall of Fame NFL coaches. He completed 355 of 641 passes for 4,501 yards and 13 touchdowns in 30 games but did not have a winning record — the Bears went 1-9 in 1962, 4-5-1 in 1963 and 3-7 in 1964. Morton was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 1965 NFL draft and by the Oakland Raiders in the 10th round of the 1965 AFL draft. He signed with the Cowboys.
In the Super Bowl: Morton, now 75, was the losing quarterback in two Super Bowls, his Cowboys falling to the Baltimore Colts 16-13 in Super Bowl V after the 1970 season and his Denver Broncos losing to the Roger Staubach-led Cowboys 27-10 in Super Bowl XII after the 1977 season. Morton struggled in both games, completing 12 of 26 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions against the Colts. He had as many interceptions as completions (four) and passed for only 39 yards against Dallas.
At Cal: Ferragamo started the final three games of his freshman season at Cal in 1972 and remained the starter as a sophomore in 1973, completing 125 of 253 passes for 1,654 yards and 11 touchdowns with 20 interceptions. The Bears went 3-8 in 1972 and 4-7 in 1973 under coach Mike White. After losing the job to Steve Bartkowski, Ferragamo, now 64, transferred to Nebraska, where he passed for 3,407 yards and 34 touchdowns in 1975 and 1976. He was a fourth-round pick of the Rams in 1977.
In the Super Bowl: The Rams were 5-5 when Ferragamo replaced injured starter Pat Haden in early November 1979. Strong-armed with swagger, Ferragamo led the Rams to four wins in six games and playoff wins at Dallas and Tampa Bay. The underdog Rams were driving for the potential go-ahead score with 5:30 to play in Super Bowl XIV in the Rose Bowl when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert intercepted a pass intended for Ron Smith. The Terry Bradshaw-led Steelers went on to a 31-19 win, their fourth Super Bowl title in six years.
At Cal: Rodgers played two seasons at Cal under coach Jeff Tedford before entering the 2005 draft, where the Green Bay Packers took him with the 24th pick. With a strong arm and pinpoint accuracy, Rodgers completed 215 of 349 passes for 2,903 yards and 19 touchdowns with five interceptions as a sophomore in 2003, and 209 of 316 passes for 2,566 yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2004. The Bears went 8-6 in 2003 and 10-2 in 2004, when they finished ninth in the Associated Press poll.
In the Super Bowl: Rodgers spent his first three NFL seasons as Brett Favre’s backup. In his third season as a starter in 2010, the Packers became the first sixth-seeded playoff team to reach the Super Bowl, where they beat Pittsburgh 31-25 in Cowboys Stadium. The efficient Rodgers completed 90 of 132 passes for 1,094 yards and nine touchdowns with two interceptions in four playoff games for a quarterback rating of 109.8. He was named the Super Bowl XLV most valuable player after completing 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards against the Steelers.
At Cal: Goff had a prolific three-year career under coach Sonny Dykes, completing 977 of 1,568 passes for 12,195 yards and 96 touchdowns with 30 interceptions. The Bears improved from 1-11 in Goff’s freshman year in 2013 to 5-7 in 2014 and 8-5 in 2015. The Rams made a bold move before the 2016 draft, acquiring the No. 1 pick from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for six picks in 2016 and 2017. The Rams chose Goff over current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who was taken with the second pick.
In the Super Bowl: Goff went from a battered rookie who was winless in seven 2016 starts to a playoff quarterback in 2017 and Super Bowl quarterback this season. “I think everything I learned at Cal, especially with my first year being tough and kind of similar to my first year in the NFL, helped prepare me for the last few years,” Goff said. “You learn so much about yourself in college, how to be a leader, what not to do. I think all of that carries over to the NFL.”
Staff writer Shotgun Spratling contributed to this story.