There will be Super Bowl parties galore across the country on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs seek their first National Football League championship since 1970 and the San Francisco 49ers try to hoist their first Lombardi Trophy in 25 years.
Mike DeVito won’t be attending any parties. For a good reason.
The University of Maine Sports Hall of Famer and two-time All-Atlantic 10 defensive lineman spent the past three seasons of his nine-year National Football League career playing for the Chiefs and their coach, Andy Reid.
Both arrived in Kansas City in 2013.
“I can’t wait,” said DeVito, who lives in Hampden with wife Jessie and sons Rocco and Sal. “This is the first time a team I’ve rooted for has made it this far.”
He’s going to stay home and watch the Super Bowl with his family.
“I’m really happy for the Chiefs. I still feel like a part of it,” DeVito said. “I want them to win it so badly.”
He said a half-dozen former teammates and several of the coaches who were in KC with him are still with the organization.
“I’m really excited for Dustin Colquitt, the punter. He’s been there 15 years. He has been through all the ups and downs and all the coaching changes,” DeVito said.
Tight end Travis Kelce, fullback Anthony Sherman, safety Daniel Sorensen, offensive tackle Eric Fisher and offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif are among the other teammates that are still with the Chiefs.
“I shoot them text messages. It’s fun. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said DeVito, who spent his first six seasons with the New York Jets.
He is ecstatic for the long-suffering Chiefs fans whom he called “the greatest fans in the world.
“Boy do they support that team,” DeVito said. “Arrowhead [Stadium] was crazy every [game], no matter what our record was. Playing there was an incredible experience. It was unique. There’s nothing like Arrowhead.”
The Chiefs made the playoffs in two of his three seasons — 2013 and 2015 — but were a wildcard team and never got to play a home game.
DeVito has nothing but praise for Reid and the job he has done.
Reid inherited a 2-14 team and turned it into an 11-5 playoff team in their first season. They have made the playoffs five consecutive years.
“They really deserve it,” DeVito said. “They have built the foundation through a lot of blood, sweat and tears.”
Reid is a player’s coach, according to DeVito.
“He maintains discipline, structure and focus, and he treats you like a man,” DeVito said. “He shows you that he loves you and cares about you. He interacts with the media and other people. He’s easy to love. He is so respected by players and coaches on other teams as well.”
DeVito thinks a Super Bowl ring would be fitting to enhance what he called Reid’s Hall of Fame resume.
The Chiefs offense has been a juggernaut in the playoffs, overcoming a 24-0 hole to beat Houston 51-31 and erasing a 10-point deficit to beat Tennessee 35-24 in the AFC Championship game.
“To be down by 24 points and make that up tells you how much talent they have. [Quarterback Pat Mahomes] can move around and sling it downfield. They have a ton of weapons. They have a great offensive line and a great offensive system,” DeVito said.
DeVito also praised a KC defense that features a good pass rush and a run defense headed by nose tackle Chris Jones.
DeVito firmly believes the Chiefs are a better team than the 49ers and predicted a 31-24 Kansas City victory.
The 49ers have a good running game and are capable of stringing together long drives. They also have a formidable defense.
“The last thing you want to do against the 49ers is fall behind so their defensive line can just put their heads down and rush the passer a million miles an hour,” DeVito said. “If you have to come out with three or four wide receivers and have to pass-protect for 50 plays, it isn’t going to work.”