The San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Feb. 2, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Despite no regional teams playing in the big game, there are some local fans ready to cheer on their favorites.
Kansas City Chiefs fan
Jeff Doran remembers lying on the floor of his parents’ home in Avoca when he was 6 years old, perusing the J.C. Penny catalog making his Christmas wish list. He was a New York Jets fan then, but he couldn’t find any Jets stuff in the catalog.
“In those days,” he said, “they only carried successful teams like the Redskins and Steelers.”
A few years later, 9 years old now, he watched the NFL draft with his father, Jimmy Doran. The Chiefs picked Alabama linebacker/defensive end Derrick Thomas with the fourth overall pick. Something about Thomas made an impression on Doran and he has been a Chiefs fan ever since.
He has seen the Chiefs play twice live, against the Eagles in Philadelphia and against the Green Bay Packers with his father, a Packers fan, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in 2007. Though they didn’t know it at the time, it turned out to be Farve’s last season in Green Bay.
Yes, they tried some barbecue. Their pick — burnt ends at Jack Stack BBQ.
In 2005, another linebacker named Derrick caught Doran’s attention. The Chiefs took Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson with their first round pick. Doran bought an authentic Johnson jersey and went to the Chiefs’ training camp in Wisconsin.
“He signed the jersey. He told me he had signed replicas, but mine was the first authentic jersey he signed.”
Doran also has a collection of helmets, a folding Chiefs rocking chair and an autograph mini helmet with 11 signatures he got at the training camp in 2005.
“I have the NFL ticket so I can watch all the Chief games. I make sure I’m home to watch every game or tape it.”
His favorite players are Thomas, who died in 1999 after being paralyzed in a car accident, Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and current quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
His most memorable game is from last season when the Chiefs broke a playoff losing streak by beating the Indianapolis Colts before losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game. The Chiefs went to one other AFC title game, back in 1993, with Joe Montana at quarterback. They lost to the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs have played in two Super Bowls, both before Doran was born. They lost to Green Bay in Super Bowl I and beat Minnesota in Super Bowl IV in 1970.
Doran is 40 now and this will be his first chance to see his Chiefs win a Super Bowl. He is having a party in his Chiefs themed man cave for about 20 friends.
A Wilkes grad, he is the owner of Express Employment Professionals in Kingston. He is a 1997 Pittston Area graduate, where he was on the track and basketball teams. He and his wife, Jackie, a Pitt alumnus and Steelers fan, live in Archbald with their daughter, Caitlin, 7 and son, Connor, 9, “a hardcore Chiefs fan.”
Does his wife think he’s nuts?
“In more ways than one,” Doran said with a laugh.
Asked for a prediction, he mulled the Chiefs being 1.5 point favorites and said they will win 27-24.
San Francisco 49ers Fan
Ted Kerpovich, 43, has a different take. He expects his San Francisco 49ers to win. Kerpovich is a popular bartender at Sabatini’s Bottle Shop and Bar in Exeter with a wealth of knowledge about sports, music and beer.
Like Doran did with the Chiefs, Ted latched onto the 49ers when he was 9 years old.
“I grew up in a Steelers/Eagles family but didn’t have any real interest in football until I watched Super Bowl 19 with my dad,” he said.
“I asked him who we were rooting for and he said the 49ers. My favorite color was red and they won in convincing fashion so they were my team going forward.”
The 49ers beat the Dolphins and Dan Marino, 38-16 in Super Bowl 19 in 1985.
He saw the Niners play the Cardinals in Phoenix with his wife in 2007. His wife struck up a conversation with two men sitting next to her and learned they grew up in Exeter, as did she.
In 2006 Ted decided on a whim to go to San Francisco for a game. Traveling alone he saw them play the Packers in Candlestick Park.
“I hung out in Haight Asbury for a while and stopped in some cool beer bars.”
The Niners, with Trent Dilfer at quarterback, lost to the Packers in that game. They also lost the game he saw in Phoenix.But they have done a lot of winning over the years. They are 5-1 in Super Bowls, though it’s been a while. Their last appearance was in 2013 when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
Kerpovich’s favorite game was Super Bowl 23 in 1989, when Joe Montana led the Niners on a game-winning drive to beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Down 16-13, San Francisco got the ball on their own 8-yard line with 3:10 left and drove 92 yards to score the winning touchdown on a pass from Montana to John Taylor with 34 seconds left.
“It was absolutely amazing to watch,” Kerpovich said.
Like our Chiefs fan Doran, Kerpovich has the NFL cable package so he can watch Niners games and has some interesting memorabilia.
“I was an avid autograph hound in the late ’80s and early ’90s so I have signed photos from a lot of the stars from that time, as well as some signed hand written letters. I also have a Joe Montana Topps rookie card on an uncut sheet.”
Kerpovich said the stars were more likely to send reproduced copies of signed photos, while lesser known players sent more personalized replies. Tim McKyer, a safety in the late 1980s, sent him a signed Christmas card.
His favorite players?
“Growing up it was all about Jerry Rice and Joe Montana. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate hard hitting defense players like Ronnie Lott more.”
Kerpovich graduated from Dallas Area High School. The Mountaineers won the state championship in football in 1994, his senior year. He was on the track team.
Today he lives in Kingston with his wife, Marlena, and daughter, Vyla. Though she is only 2½ years old, she’s already learned to love the Niners. After they won the NFC championship two weeks ago, she chanted “Jimmy G, Jimmy G,” her dad said. The Niners quarterback is Jimmy Garoppolo.
He is watching the game this weekend at the home of his best friend Brian Gieda. Ted and Gieda’s brother, Eddie, used to play Montana-to-Rice in the backyard.
Here’s how Kerpovich sees this Super Bowl playing out:
“The Chiefs will have the most talented player on the field, in Mahomes, but I believe the 49ers are a better team top to bottom. I see them running the ball and controlling the time of possession while sneaking in a few long play action passes. Under the fastest pressure Mahomes has seen to date, he will turn the ball over multiple times and the 49ers will win by two touchdowns.”