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Super Bowl filled with players making first title appearances

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PHOENIX – Landon Cohen was working at his valet company in South Carolina when he got a call earlier this month.

The Seattle Seahawks were on the line. They needed a defensive lineman.

“What time you need me there?” Cohen asked.

Two games later, he is 60 minutes away from winning the Super Bowl instead of parking cars.
This is his ninth team in seven years but his first Super Bowl – one of several players experiencing the madness that is the game.

Notable players appearing in their first Super Bowl include New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Kevin Williams.

Revis nearly made the Super Bowl twice with the New York Jets. The team played in two straight AFC Championship games but lost both.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Revis. “This is what you play for every year. In the off season you work hard to get to this point and when you get there, it’s so surreal to me. It’s awesome, but it’s also crazy.”

Williams, in his first year with the Seahawks, spent his first 11 years with the Minnesota Vikings. His closest shot at the Super Bowl came in 2009 when the Vikings lost to the eventual champion New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game.

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower won two BCS titles with Alabama. Now he’s starting in his first Super Bowl.

“This is really just a dream come true,” Hightower said. “I’ve been wanting to play in this game since I was little. I was able to get a couple of milestones that I wanted in college and now I have the opportunity to do it in the National Football League.”

Not every first-time player will dress for the game. Patriots quarterback Garrett Gilbert and Seahawks defensive lineman Ryan Robinson will watch from the sidelines as practice squad players.

The Patriots signed Gilbert, a rookie from Southern Methodist, in December after spending time with the St. Louis Rams, who drafted him in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. While he won’t take the field, he is back in a championship game setting, having played for Texas in the BCS National Championship against Alabama in 2010.

“It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” Gilbert said. “It’s been a crazy year and I’ve been very fortunate and thankful to have this opportunity.”

In his limited time with the Patriots, Gilbert has simulated the playing styles of Geno Smith, Kyle Orton, Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck. Now it’s his turn to mimic Russell Wilson.

“Well, he’s obviously a little faster than I am. He’s so good at extending plays. My goal is to get the defense to play through the tackle.”

In November, Robinson went from a losing culture in Oakland to a winning one in Seattle and found a major difference in locker room culture.

“No disrespect to Oakland but Seattle’s got a top notch facility,” Robinson said. “I love ‘em both but Seattle is more professional.”

Robinson, who watched No Good Deed on the flight to Phoenix, is taking it all in, especially the weather. He is also sharing the experience with his parents, who drove about 20 hours from Georgia.