As the world prepares to watch the New York Giants and New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, two Lenoir-Rhyne graduates are working to claim titles.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (‘85) and tight ends coach Michael Pope (‘64) both played for L-R on the gridiron.
Fewell, a Gastonia native, is in his second season with the Giants as their defensive coordinator.
He played for L-R from 1980-83, earning the team’s Most Improved award in his senior season.
During his 27-year coaching career, Fewell had stints in the NFL as the interim head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2009, and defensive backs coach for the Bills (2006-09), Chicago Bears (2005), St. Louis Rams (2003-04) and Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-2002).
He’s also worked in the collegiate ranks at Vanderbilt (1995-97), Army (1987, 1992-94), Kent State (1988-91) and North Carolina (1985-88).
Pope, a member of the Bears’ 1960 national title team, is part of the more storied history of the L-R football program.
A 29-year journeyman coach in the NFL and native of Monroe, Pope has spent 21 seasons with the Giants, including 12 straight from 2000-2011. His first tenure with the team lasted from 1983-91.
He left the Giants in 1992 to pursue a job with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Remaining with the Bengals until 1993, Pope worked with the Patriots (1994-96) and Redskins (1997-99) before returning to New York.
Pope is the longest tenured coach of any kind in Giants franchise history.
According to his profile on the team’s website, Pope is regarded by Giants coach Tom Coughlin as “the best tight ends coach in football.”
A win Sunday gives Pope his fourth Super Bowl ring in as many decades. He won titles with New York in 1987, 1991 and 2008.
Prior to his experience in the NFL, Pope spent 13 years as coach at the college and high school ranks.
Pope’s notable collegiate coaching jobs included Florida State (1970-74), Texas Tech (1975-77) and Mississippi (1978-82).
After successful playing and coaching careers, both men were inducted into the L-R Sports Hall of Fame — Pope in 1997 and Fewell in 2011.