Making it to the Super Bowl is not an easy task. Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs, who ended a 50-year drought earlier this month and went on to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20.
Ricky Proehl, though, had the good fortune of playing in four – count ‘em, four -- Super Bowls. He came away victorious twice, first in 2000 when the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16 and then again in 2007 when the Indianapolis Colts took down the Chicago Bears 29-17.
The determined wide receiver also has the distinction of being one of just three players to catch a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl for two different teams. NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (49ers and Oakland Raiders) and Muhsin Muhammad (Carolina Panthers and Bears) are the others.
One of Proehl’s touchdowns came in 2004 on a 12-yarder from Jake Delhomme that pulled the Panthers into a tie with the New England Patriots with 1:08 remaining. But the Pats won the game on a 41-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with four seconds left.
Proehl also caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to tie the game with 90 seconds remaining in the 2002 Super Bowl. Once again Vinatieri proved to be the nemesis, kicking a 48-yarder as time expired to give the Patriots their first Super Bowl title.
A 2011 inductee into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, Proehl went out on top -- retiring after the Colts’ 2007 Super Bowl victory where, interestingly, Vinatieri was one of his teammates. During his 17-year NFL career, Proehl caught 669 passes for 8,878 yards and 54 touchdowns.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Proehl, who was born in the Bronx, New York, only had two scholarship offers and the college he chose, Wake Forest, wasn’t exactly known for its football program at the time. But Proehl played as a freshman, lettered four years and still owns school records for receiving yards and touchdowns.
After playing in the Blue-Gray Football Classic and East-West All-Star games, he was taken in the third round of the NFL draft with the 58th pick by the Arizona Cardinals. He played with six different NFL teams, hitting his stride with the Rams as part of an offense called the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
Proehl also spent six seasons as an assistant coach for the Panthers and went to a fifth Super Bowl in 2016. One of the reasons he left coaching was to watch his sons Austin and Blake play football – wide receiver, of course -- for North Carolina and East Carolina, respectively. Austin now plays for the Seattle Dragons of the XFL.
The 51-year-old Proehl lives in Greensboro and operates Proehlific Park, a family sports complex and fitness center. “I’ve always had a passion for helping kids,” he said. “I have an opportunity to give back to kids within the community and I feel blessed to be able to do that.”
Tag(s): Member of the Month