You probably knew Mississippi produces more NFL players per capita than any other state. It has been that way for a long time.

What you might not have known is this: Mississippi will have more natives playing in the 2023 Super Bowl than any other state. And, as you may notice, there’s no mention of per capita there. The Magnolia State will have more players in the game than any other state. Period.

Eight native-born Mississippians dot the rosters of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, who will play Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz.

Texas, Georgia and Ohio all tie for second in representation in this year’s Super Bowl with seven players each. The figures were provided by, citing

What you should know about all that is this: Texas has a population of just under 30 million. Georgia and Ohio have populations of more than 11 million. Mississippi’s population is just under 3 million.

Florida, with a population of more than 22 million, has six players in the Super Bowl. The nation’s most populous state, California (over 40 million population) is next with five.

Mississippians who play for the Philadelphia Eagles include All Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and running back Kenneth Gainwell, both of Yazoo City; quarterback Gardner Minshew of Brandon; wide receiver A.J. Brown of Starkville and linebacker Nakobe Dean of Horn Lake.

Mississippians who play for Kansas City include All Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones of Houston, Willie Gay of Starkville and linebacker Darius Harris of Horn Lake.

Amazingly, the towns of Horn Lake (population 28,000), Yazoo City (10,000) and Starkville (24,500) all boast two players each on football’s biggest stage.

All will follow in the footsteps of so many small-town Mississippians who have made their marks in the Super Bowl, including the likes of Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Brett Favre, Lance Alworth, L.C. Greenwood, Kent Hull, Sammy Winder and so many more.

In addition, the Eagles’ Cameron Tom (Southern Miss by way of Baton Rouge), Quez Watkins (Southern Miss by way of Athens, Ala.) and Darius Slay (Mississippi State by way of Brunswick, Ga.) played college football in Mississippi.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.