While this year’s Super Bowl features only one Badger, there are still enough guys with Wisconsin ties (state or program) to warrant a quick dive into who they are.
Hopefully, 2025 will give me more to work with, because featuring an ex-Hawkeye hurts my soul a bit.
The Badger From Birth: Leo Chenal
A three-star recruit (the 635th best player in the country per 24/7 Sports) and fan favorite from tiny Grantsburg, Wisconsin, Chenal played three seasons for the Badgers before skipping his last year of eligibility in Madison in 2022 to test his fortunes in the NFL—and so far, so good.
After winning the Butkus Award and being named All-Big Ten after the 2021 season for the Badgers, Chenal declared for the draft, where he was taken by Kansas City in the third round (No. 103 overall).
He has since had two very solid seasons with the Chiefs, making the Super Bowl in both, including racking up six tackles and a sack in Kansas City’s Super Bowl win over the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
He made a nice jump at linebacker for Kansas City in 2023, registering 65 tackles and three sacks, and is an important piece of the Chiefs defense that will be trying hard to stop the potent Niners attack tonight.
The Ron Dayne Loving Future Hawkeye Born in Madison: George Kittle
Kittle grew up a massive Badger fan, even sporting a Ron Dayne jersey as a kid while watching the Wisconsin legend run all over Iowa in 1999 to set the NCAA career rushing record.
While he was born in Madison, his parents later moved to Iowa City, where Kittle graduated from high school as a two-star recruit per 247 Sports with Iowa as his only power five offer. A tall, athletic TE for the Hawkeyes, Kittle parlayed his stint in Iowa City into a fifth-round selection by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2017 Draft.
While Kittle was an intriguing athlete, his four years of college production at Iowa were hardly earth-shattering—48 catches for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns across four seasons.
But, in the NFL, Kittle has been a different animal, becoming one of the most feared tight ends in the game to the tune of five Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections.
The Madison Kid Who Grew Up In Texas: Jake Brendel
A three-star recruit who played his high school ball in Plano, Texas, Brendel went undrafted as a second-team All-Pac-12 center out of UCLA in 2016.
He signed with the Cowboys as a free agent but never played there and bounced around the NFL as an afterthought for years until winning the starting gig for the Niners in 2022, leading to a four-year contract extension in 2023.
He’s started every game for San Francisco the last two seasons and, while he has no major professional awards or accolades, 34 consecutive starts for a Super Bowl team is fairly impressive and no doubt at least partially due to starting his journey in Madison as a baby.
The Brookfield Native: Mike Caliendo
Named first-team All-State playing for Brookfield East in 2015 (he took a visit to but was never offered by Wisconsin), Caliendo played both center and guard for Western Michigan, and made first-team All-MAC in both 2020 and 2021.
After going undrafted in 2022, the Chiefs signed him as a free agent and he has seen action in eight games in 2023 at guard for the Chiefs.