Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is unquestionably the leader of this team and is an outstanding quarterback. He’s a game changer who has built up a trust with the Packers built on ability to throw and ability to take charge of a huddle and a game. The SuperBowl can be an overwhelming experience for any player but if any quarterback can overcome some stage fright, Rodgers is that guy. For the proof of this, all you have to do is look back at his NFL career. He has shown a masterful job of simply being patient; from draft day when he inexplicable fell to the Packers late in the first round to the many years he had to patiently wait for Brett Favre to finally decide to leave, Rodgers has shown the guts and poise needed in the face of adversity.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite what many people will say, SuperBowl experience goes a long way. The most important game of the season is by far the most pressure packed of a players career and while it’s still four quarters long like any other game, that’s where the similarities end. The spectacle leading up to the game as well as the extended halftime can throw you off if you’re not prepared and that’s where Roethlisberger has the edge, having been to two previous SuperBowls. Also, not only has he played in two, but he’s led an 88 yard (after the holding penalty) touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter to win one. That’s an experience that can’t be topped and if you can show up in a moment like that, you can show up anywhere.
Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
Clay Matthews is the Packers defensive equivalent of Troy Polamalu. He is the quarterback of their defense and can and will be anywhere on the field. He had a stellar year that saw him earn the respect and admiration of peers across the league and almost won him Defensive Player of the Year (he lost out to Troy Polamalu of the Steelers by 2 votes). With the Steelers offensive line woes, it could very easily be feasting day this Sunday for Matthews and that could spell doom for Pittsburgh.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mendenhall is on the cusp of being the next great Steelers running back as he has, at 23, really stepped up this season to show everyone what he is capable of. Behind a patchwork offensive line and running against defenses that knows he’s coming, the guy has still been able to put up numbers time and time again. That’s good because the Steelers are really going to need him to establish the run game if Pittsburgh is going to walk away Sunday with SuperBowl win #7.
Dick LeBeau (no relation that I know of), Pittsburgh Steelers
What can I say about Uncle Dick (again, no relation that I know of but that doesn’t stop me from claiming him) other than he is easily the best defensive coordinator the game of football has ever seen. Even in his 70’s, he is head and shoulders above everyone else in the NFL, no offense to Packers DC Dom Capers (who incidentally went to school with my mother). With two weeks to prepare for the Packers, it’s almost scary to think what Uncle Dick has game-planned.