Joe Campbell and Vernon Davis have a lot in common. Campbell went to Maryland, and was the 7th overall pick in the 1977 NFL draft. Davis went to Maryland, and was the 6th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Campbell was 6’6, 254 pounds in his playing days; Davis measures in at 6’3, 250 pounds. And both wound up unexpectedly playing in a Super Bowl.
Campbell was drafted by the Saints, and had three and a half nondescript seasons with the team. Then, on October 15, 1980, the Saints traded him to Oakland for a 1981 sixth round draft pick. New Orleans was 0-5 at the time, while the Raiders were just 2-3. But after trading for Campbell — and also inserting Jim Plunkett into the starting lineup — Oakland got hot. The Raiders finished the regular season 11-5, and then won three playoff games to become the first Wild Card team to reach the Super Bowl.
That Super Bowl was held at the Superdome, where Campbell played his home games earlier in the year (and during the prior three years). That, of course, is exactly what Davis is doing. On November 2nd, 2015, the 49ers sent Davis and a 2016 7th round pick to Denver for 6th round picks in 2016 and 2017. Now, three months later, Davis will return to Levi’s Stadium to play in the biggest game of them all.
Campbell and Davis are two of just four players to pull off this feat of playing in the Super Bowl and also playing home games in that stadium earlier in the year. The other two players also have ties to New Orleans and Raiders.
In 1974, guard Andy Maurer was traded from the Falcons to the Saints, as part of head coach Norm Van Brocklin’s anger over the 1974 preseason players strike. Midway through the year, New Orleans traded him to Minnesota, and he wound up starting in Super Bowl IX for the Vikings…. held at Tulane Stadium (this was the last NFL game played there; the Superdome opened the following year).
In 1983, defensive lineman Dave Stalls was playing with Tampa Bay when he signed a contract to play with the Denver Gold in the USFL (unfortunately, for SEO purposes, I can’t work Donald Trump into this story… or can I?). The Bucs took so kindly to that decision that Stalls was placed on waivers, and picked up by the Raiders. Stalls called playing with Los Angeles “the best thing that ever happened to me.” Stalls, a nose tackle, wound up being a key contributor as a reserve to the Raiders defensive line. When Los Angeles made the Super Bowl, Stalls wound up surprisingly playing one more game in the 1983 season in Tampa, Florida.
And that’s it. Just three players have (a) played for the team where that year’s Super Bowl was held, and then (b) wound up playing in that Super Bowl. Of course, no team has ever hosted in and played in the Super Bowl, so switching teams is, to-date, a mandatory requirement. But now you can safely say you’ve got some Super Bowl trivia that no one else at your Super Bowl party knew.