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Former Badgers to play in AFC, NFC championship games this weekend

Once a Badger, always a Badger!

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New York Jets v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

According to the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl game notes, 26 former Wisconsin Badgers were on NFL rosters in some fashion this season. Now four will attempt to secure Super Bowl berths this upcoming weekend in playing in both the AFC and NFC championship games.

Los Angles Rams (13-3) at New Orleans Saints (13-3)

When the Rams travel to “The Big Easy” to face off against the Saints next weekend, three former Badgers will be lacing up their spikes.

Offensive lineman Rob Havenstein is the lone former Badger in a Rams uniform. A second round draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, he is now in his fourth season with the organization. In one of the two NFC divisional playoff games, he and his fellow lineman paved the way in their 30-22 win over Dallas as the Rams rushed for 273 yards. That ground attack featured two 100-yard rushers in running backs C.J. Anderson (123) and Todd Gurley (115).

Wisconsin is also represented on the Rams’ coaching staff as former Badgers defensive back, Aubrey Pleasant, is the team’s cornerback coach.

On the other side, the Saints feature two former Badgers in right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and linebacker Vince Biegel. A second-year player who was drafted 32nd overall in 2017 NFL Draft, Ramczyk claimed AP second-team All-Pro honors in 2018. He has started all 31 games he has played in during his brief professional career.

A former fourth round draft pick in the same draft as Ramczyk, Biegel signed with New Orleans prior to this season after being waived by Green Bay. Biegel played in 14 games after being promoted from the Practice Squad and has recorded four tackles (three solo).

New England Patriots (11-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

Running back James White will be the only former Badgers playing in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Last Sunday, White helped the Patriots end the season of two other former Wisconsin players and teammates—running back Melvin Gordon and fullback Derek Watt—in a 41-28 AFC divisional playoff win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

White played a major role in his team’s victory, becoming the first player in NFL history to record 12 or more receptions in two playoff games. Against the Chargers, he caught 15 passes for 97 yards.

White’s other 12-plus reception game came in Super Bowl LI, where he caught 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. White also added two rushing touchdowns and a two-point conversion. He recorded both the game-tying and winning score for the Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons.

If New England wins this weekend, this will be White’s fourth Super Bowl since being drafted in 2014.

Though not a Badger, Kansas City tight end Demetrius Harris played basketball for the Milwaukee Panthers. This season, he caught 12 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns.