Super Bowl players have roots in county

Talk about having a rooting interest in the Super Bowl this week – western Monmouth County has not one, but two local players in the game who will compete for the NFL championship.

Dan Klecko and Darrell Reid have earned their roster spots with the Indianapolis Colts through hard work, dedication to excellence and perseverance. Their presence in Sunday’s game will make this more than just another Super Bowl for area sports fans.

Klecko, the son of New York Jets defensive lineman Joe Klecko, played his high school football at Marlboro High School and his college ball at Temple University. He was often the best player on bad teams. His skills as a defensive lineman were recognized when he was drafted by the New England Patriots. He went on to be a member of two Super Bowl championship teams.

Released by the Patriots before the 2006 season, Klecko hooked up with the Colts and has proven to be a valuable member of the team. Listed as a defensive lineman, Klecko has also seen some time at fullback and he caught a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning in the Colts’ AFC championship game victory over the Patriots.

Does Klecko have another TD catch in his future this week? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Reid played his high school football at Freehold High School and went on to an outstanding gridiron career in the Big Ten Conference at the University of Minnesota. He earned a spot with the Colts as an undrafted free agent for the 2005 season and kept that spot for 2006. He has made some big plays on special teams and is earning time on the defensive line as well.

One of Reid’s crunching hits in the AFC title game against New England was featured as a full-page photograph in last week’s issue of Sports Illustrated. No doubt, that picture will be one of his prized NFL mementos. But Reid would like another memento to keep forever – a Super Bowl ring that goes to the members of the winning team in the big game.

These two young men have shown by their hard work what is possible in sports. They beat the almost unbelievable odds that keep 99 percent of high school and college athletes from earning a living as professionals. Their reward will be playing on the biggest stage in American sports.

When the Colts and the Bears square off in the Super Bowl on the evening of Feb. 4 most fans will have a favorite player or two in the game. There certainly are big names like Manning, Urlacher and Harrison.

Here in western Monmouth County two players we will be watching are players we have followed for years: Dan Klecko and Darrell Reid. Here’s hoping they are able to win that ring that so many pursue and so few attain.