Super Bowl Bittersweet for Simoneau

by Mark Janssen

Editor's Note: This is the third of a three-part series on former Kansas State Wildcats who will be playing in Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday when Indianapolis plays New Orleans in Miami.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - At 6-foot, 245-pounds, Mark Simoneau hardly fits the mold of a cheerleader, but that will be his duty Sunday night in Miami, Fla., at Super Bowl XLIV.

In a word, "frustrated" best fits the disposition of the former Kansas State linebacker, who is now in his 10th NFL season.

Simoneau is currently on the New Orleans injured reserve list after a preseason tricep injury required surgery and ended his season. Adding to the frustration is the fact that tearing his tricep came after hip and back surgery kept him off the field during the 2008 campaign.

"It's hard, but the fact that I played in a Super Bowl with Philadelphia makes it a little easier to take," Simoneau said. "It's not fun just watching and not being able to play, but I'm really happy for my teammates."

The 33-year-old Simoneau started his career with three seasons in Atlanta, followed by three in Philadelphia and the last four in New Orleans.

He's played in 103 games with his best year coming with the Eagles in 2003 when he recorded 102 tackles. For a career, Simoneau has 400 all-time stops, with 8.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and one interception.

Simoneau and the Eagles lost to New England, 24-21, in Super Bowl XXXIX, which is a day he will never forget.

"It's hard to explain the moment," Simoneau said. "It really is a feeling that when you're about to run onto the field, all those emotions come over you. It's like your feet aren't touching the ground. It really is like that.

"It's that big game you dream about as a kid," he said. "It's pretty special. Words can't tell the story."

Part of the story this year is the Saints winning for the people of New Orleans.

"This means everything to the city," Simoneau said. "The city has always been behind us, but since Katrina there has been even more backing. The energy in this city since we made the playoffs has been unbelievable. New Orleans has a small-town feel to it, which makes it even more special.

"Philadelphia was really hungry for a winner, but with the devastation that New Orleans went through with Katrina, it just adds another component to the atmosphere," he said.

In going head-to-head against Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, Simoneau said, "As a linebacker, it really is a chess match. He's just amazing with his command of their offense. He looks at the linebackers and the secondary, and has that ability to always check into the right play. He does that as well as anybody. He will go down as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play this game."

While he won't be a player in Sunday's game, Simoneau still admits that a championship ring would be treasured.

"Especially when it gets later in a career, you always want a world championship. That's always the ultimate goal," Simoneau said. "It's that one season where you can say you put it all together and you are the best in the business. That's something to hang your hat on."