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The Super Bowl and Fil-Am football heroes

/ 04:00 AM February 05, 2018

SACRAMENTO, California—There are at least three Filipino-American athletes known to have made their mark in the National Football League, whose 52nd Super Bowl unfurls on Sunday afternoon (Monday morning in Manila).

Here’s everything you need to know about them and the NFL if you actually want to sound smart between the expensive commercials while watching the game on television or streaming it wherever you are in the world.

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The biggest sporting event in the United States, the Super Bowl attracts the biggest TV audience of the year—more than 100 million viewers at home and millions more scattered around the globe.

According to the Nielsen ratings, Super Bowls make up 19 of the 20 most watched TV broadcasts, with the series finale of the classic series “MASH” in 1983 being the exception.

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Because of the Super Bowl’s gargantuan market reach, NBC, the TV network beaming this year’s match up between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles is charging $5 million (about P250 million pesos) for a 30-second ad.

The Patriots will be on a record 10th Super Bowl appearance on Sunday. They are in the NFL’s marquee game for the third time in four years.

The franchise is attempting to win a sixth championship since 2001 with the unflappable tandem of quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

The Eagles, who are 4½- point underdogs, are no pushovers themselves. They are making their third trip to the Super Bowl although they have yet to win one.

Tedy Bruschi, Doug Baldwin Jr. and Roman Gabriel Jr. the known Filipino standouts in the NFL, past and present, happen to have the Patriots and Eagles in their DNA.

Bruschi who hails from Roseville near Sacramento, was an outstanding linebacker for the Patriots for 13 seasons.

He was with the team when it won the Super Bowl in 2001, 2003 and 2004 at the start of the team’s Brady and Belichick era.

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He drew inspiration and support from his Italian-American dad, Anthony Bruschi Sr. and his mom Juanita Lacap, a Filipino with Kapampangan roots.

Still a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, the 2014 Super Bowl titlists, Baldwin whose mom hails from Tacloban, Leyte, scored a touchdown in his team’s close loss to the Patriots in the NFL’s 2015 title showdown.

Before a home game at Seattle’s Century Link Field in 2013, Baldwin created one of the sports most stirring moments when he famously trotted out on the field while waving an upside down Philippine flag.

His offbeat way of honoring and rallying support for victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” including his relatives in Tacloban, endeared the Stanford University product to the 100,000 strong Fil-Am community in the Seattle Metro Area.

Gabriel, the son of Filipino immigrant Roman Sr., was the star quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams from 1962-1972 before moving East to join the Eagles from 1973-1977.

He was the NFL Player of the Year in 1969 and the Comeback Player of the Year in 1973.

He became an actor in Hollywood and is best known for his portrayal of Blue Boy, a Native American in the John Wayne-Rock Hudson Western blockbuster “The Undefeated.”

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