Giants, Jets connections aplenty in Chiefs, Buccaneers Super Bowl LV matchup

Jason Pierre-Paul giants
Former Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul is back in the Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LV will be played 1,127 miles away from MetLife Stadium, featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — the first-ever team to compete in a Super Bowl in their home at Raymond James Stadium — and the Kansas City Chiefs, who call home 1,182 miles away from the Meadowlands. 

But Giants and Jets’ fingerprints are all over the NFC and AFC Champions, who now begin preparations for the biggest singular game of the sporting season on Feb. 7. 

Here are a few notable former members from Big Blue and Gang Green that will be taking the field on Super Sunday:

Former Giants, Jets with Buccaneers

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE: What a triumphant return to the mountaintop it’s been for Jason Pierre-Paul, who was traded from the Giants to Tampa Bay in 2017. The defensive end’s career was in jeopardy after a fireworks accident damaged his hand on July 4, 2015, throwing a wrench into what first looked like a Hall-of-Fame career with the Giants, which featured 58.5 sacks over eight seasons and a Super Bowl XLVI triumph. Over the last three seasons in Tampa Bay, he racked up 30.5 sacks and 76 total pressures while leading the Bucs with 9.5 sacks this season.

Todd Bowles, Defensive Coordinator: Bowles spent four seasons as the head coach of the New York Jets, including a 10-6 campaign in 2015 — their best season in the last decade. But after going 14-34 in his final three seasons, he was shown the door and quickly reunited with Bruce Arians down in Tampa Bay. Bowles was his defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2014 and assumed the same position with the Buccaneers in 2019. Bowles’ defense in 2020 has been one of the best in football, allowing the fourth-fewest points and yards this season. In the postseason, they’ve stopped two of the game’s greatest quarterbacks in consecutive weeks, picking off Drew Brees three times while doing just enough to get the best of Aaron Rodgers.

Steve McLendon, DT: McLendon had been the anchor of the Jets’ defensive line for four-plus seasons when he learned that he was getting traded to the Buccaneers just one day before Gang Green was to take on the Dolphins down in Miami for a Week 6 matchup. He coaxed the Jets into letting him play one last time — a loss — before heading to Tampa Bay. Now, he’s competing for a Super Bowl title after posting 17 combined tackles and two tackles for a loss in nine games as a Buccaneers run-stopper. 

Former Giants, Jets with Chiefs

Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator: Drawing up a gameplan in the Super Bowl against Tom Brady? That’s familiar territory for former Giants defensive coordinator, now Chiefs DC, Steve Spagnuolo, who kept the then-undefeated New England Patriots in check for one of the greatest Super Bowl upsets ever 13 years ago. After those efforts scored him a short-lived head-coaching stint, he returned to the Giants from 2015-2017 that included four games as interim head coach following the firing of Ben McAdoo. 

Sam Madison, Cornerback Coach: Madison was a veteran cornerback playing under Spagnuolo with the Giants for their Super Bowl XLII triumph. He spent three of his 12-year NFL career with the Giants and has been a cornerbacks coach for the Chiefs for the last two seasons.

Le’Veon Bell, Running Back: Things couldn’t have taken much of a better turn for the former All-Pro running back. After signing a four-year deal with the Jets last season, he was basically run out of town by former head coach Adam Gase. After his release from the Jets, he signed on with the defending-champion Chiefs and made his debut in Week 7. He’s been used sparingly in Kansas City’s high-powered offense, accruing 254 rushing yards and 99 receiving yards in nine games. His status for Super Bowl LV is up in the air as he deals with a knee injury.

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