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Grasping for Rooting Interest in the NFL Playoffs

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At last, the pairings for the two NFL conference championship games are set: The San Diego Chargers face off against the New England Patriots in the AFC contest, while the Green Bay Packers take on the New York Giants for NFC supremacy. These aren't exactly dream matchups for Colorado football fans, given the relative dearth of links to our fair state. Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (pictured), is the rare key player with a direct connection; he was born in Colorado Springs and attended college at the University of Northern Colorado. But associations can be found with the other three teams, too -- if you dig deep enough.

The Green Bay Packers are the easiest of the remaining trio: Rookie kicker Mason Crosby booted for the University of Colorado Buffaloes. But neither the Giants nor the Patriots have a single player who attended college here -- or, if they did, the team websites don't list them. That leaves the coaching staffs, and fortunately, there's a smidgen of Colorado in both. Giants assistant special teams coach Thomas McGaughey did the same job for the Denver Broncos for the two previous seasons: Woo-hoo! And Patriots secondary coach Joel Collier is the son of Joe Collier, who served as the defensive coordinator for the Broncos over a long stretch. Indeed, when Joel was a mere lad, he was a Broncos ballboy.

Isn't that good news, Broncos boosters? Now, as the Pats march to their inevitable victory, you'll be able to smile with satisfaction as you chant, "Go, ballboy, go!" -- Michael Roberts

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