WHAT: Super Bowl XLVIII
WHO: Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos
WHERE: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
WHEN: Kick-off 1:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox (KHON Channel 3); Pre-game coverage starts at 7 a.m.
Hawaii 24/7 Staff
For the first time in its 48 year history, the NFL’s Super Bowl features a Big Island player.
Max Unger used to wear the red and white of Hawaii Preparatory Academy. On Saturday, he’ll be wearing the blue and green of the Seattle Seahawks.
Unger, 27, is the starting center for the Seahawks. He caps an offensive line that protects one of the league’s brightest and most exciting young players, quarterback Russell Wilson.
He has started 61 games in his five seasons, including becoming the first rookie lineman to start all 16 games since Ray Roberts in 1992. A toe injury kept him out almost the entire 2010 season, but he has only missed four games in the three seasons since then.
The 6-5, 305-pound offensive lineman doesn’t get much time in the spotlight. That’s a good thing as he has given up just a handful of sacks and penalties.
He has, however, helped clear the way for running back Marshawn Lynch, who has recorded three straight seasons with more than 1,000 yards rushing.
The second round draft pick in 2009, Unger was selected All-Pro in 2012 and named to the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2013.
Unger played his college ball at University of Oregon, where he earned a scholarship and started all four years – three as left tackle and moving to center as a senior.
As a Duck, he started 51 consecutive games and earned all-conference honors every season, including being named to first-team All-Pac-10 twice and also to several All-American teams.
He added those honors to his high school accolades. He was selected to the All-BIIF first team on the offensive and defensive lines as a junior and as a senior.
His coaches long have recognized Unger as an exceptional athlete with an attitude that compliments his size, speed and quickness. The 2004 HPA graduate also played basketball, posting a double-double average in points and rebounds as a senior.
The son of Keith and Cynda Unger, of McCandless Ranch in Captain Cook, Unger is married to Leah, a former Ducks sprinter from Coos Bay, Ore. The couple spends some downtime back here on the Big Island.
The only other Big Island native currently on an NFL team roster is Unger’s old teammate Daniel Teo-Nesheim. He graduated HPA in 2005 and is a defensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Also, Honolulu native Bruno Mars will be joined by Red Hot Chili Peppers for the halftime show. Check out Mars’ press conference from earlier this week: