Former NSA Saint has a chance to become repeat Super Bowl champion
Published 4:59 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Most kids only dream about making it to the Super Bowl, but for former Nansemond-Suffolk Academy star Cole Christiansen, getting to the big game is old hat at this point. The former Saint and Army product was part of the Chiefs practice squad last year when Kansas City defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. Christiansen was elevated to the active roster and will travel with the Chiefs to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII, where he and his teammates hope to become the first back-to-back champions since Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 2003-2004 team.
“It definitely meant a lot last year, but this one’s gonna be really, really, really special,” Christiansen told the Suffolk News-Herald. “Even this past AFC Championship game had a little more meaning to it. Being a part of the team and having grass stains on my uniform, like I really contributed, it really meant a lot.”
Being close to home and winning the AFC Championship allowed more family and friends to be in the stands to watch him play.
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“I had my parents, my fiancee, my middle sister, my financial adviser, his wife, and then two of my parents’ friends came,” Christiansen said. “So we had a big crew, and they had a blast being there. It really made me happy knowing that they were up there watching me.”
Christiansen said his family is excited about this trip to the Super Bowl, especially having him suited up and likely to see action on the field. Cole says no one is more excited than his father, David.
“They’re so pumped,” Cole said about his family. “They honestly are more thrilled than I am. Dad especially because he has been my number one supporter my whole life in football. My mom, too, honestly, but my dad really just loves being at the tailgates, like when I was in college, they would drive up every single weekend, and they were the king and queen of the Army tailgate. My dad [would] be out there at six in the morning grilling for all the dads, and they’d be out there until 10 o’clock at night after the game with all my buddies. So, he doesn’t want this train to end. So, every time he gets to go to another football game, he’s just so excited, and then to be able to go to the Super Bowl twice, I mean, the guy is losing his mind. It’s awesome.”
Cole was able to defer his military commitment out of college to pursue his career in the NFL. Still, after his NFL ride is over, Cole will jump into another uniform to defend our nation in the United States Army. However, his NFL opportunity almost wasn’t available. Before a last-minute change to the National Defense Authorization Act in 2019, upperclassmen at service academies could only pursue professional careers after fulfilling their service obligations.
“When I went in, they weren’t letting us go to the league,” he said. “All the way up until my senior year, the rule was still that you would serve first, play second. Then, we were actually at the White House accepting the commander-in-chief trophy the second time, and President Donald Trump found out that we had to serve first, and he said I want to change that rule; called his lawyer while we were in the Oval Office talking to him and says I want to do this, I want to sign an Executive Order to let them play. Fast forward like three months, the rules change.”
Cole played a pivotal role in the Chiefs’ defeat of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round on Jan. 23, 2024. With under 13 minutes to play in the game, with the Chiefs up three points and the Bills facing a fourth-and-five at their 30-yard line, Buffalo ran a fake punt – most likely because they realized the Chiefs only had 10 players on the field. However, it only took one man – Christiansen – to stop Damar Hamlin two yards short of the line to gain, paving the way for another trip to the AFC Championship game in Baltimore, Maryland. The Chiefs defeated the Ravens 17-10 Sunday to secure a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII and a chance at a repeat.
On that play, Cole says Hamlin had been lined up on the opposite side of him the whole game, then came to his side. That was just one of four indicators the Chiefs’ special teams unit picked up on to determine the Bills would try the fake punt. Cole credits his teammates for setting the edge on their side, which allowed him to run down Hamlin for the stop.
“I thought it was going to come to my side because he [Hamlin] originally switched his alignment to my side,” Cole said. “So, I went up the field to set the edge, but it [the play] goes away from me, and the rest of the guys did an awesome job setting the edge on their side, and I just ran him down from behind.”
Cole earned Chiefs Special Teams Player of the Week for that play.
Super Bowl LVIII will take place in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m. and will be televised on CBS.
Photo courtesy of Cole Christiansen