Alter grad Thuney can make history in Super Bowl LII

Mike and Beth Thuney readily admit they are spoiled.

The Centerville residents are in Minneapolis to watch their son, Alter graduate Joe Thuney, play in his second consecutive Super Bowl as the starting guard for the New England Patriots.

“Everybody gives us grief about the dynasty things and there’s definitely a sense from non-Patriots fans of ‘enough is enough,’” Mike said.

“But we appreciate it,” Beth added. “We understand this is a blessed team.”

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Their good fortune is even greater than they imagined.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, if Joe starts Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles (he’s started all 37 regular season and playoff games since New England selected him out of North Carolina State in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft) and the Patriots win, he would be just the fifth player in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls as a starter in his first two seasons in the league.

“That would be crazy,” Mike said when told of the possibility.

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It got crazier when Mike and Beth were informed of the other four to do it:

Pittsburgh linebacker Jack Lambert (Super Bowls IX and X), Pittsburgh cornerback Ronald Johnson (Super Bowls XIII and XIV), New England safety Eugene Wilson (XXXVIII and XXXIX) and New England center Dan Koppen (XXXVIII and XXXIX).

“I know Dan,” Mike said. “He went to Boston College and played for coach (Tom) O’Brien. He was the one coach O’Brien compared Joseph to when he recruited him at North Carolina State. He said ‘You remind me a lot of him, and I think you’re going to have a pretty similar career.

“I guess he was pretty prophetic.”

Even if the Patriots lose, Thuney will be one of only 11 players to start back-to-back Super Bowls in the first two years of a career.

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Mike and Beth left Thursday morning for Minneapolis with 10 other friends and family members, including Joe’s high school teammate.

This will be the 16th Patriots game Beth and Mike have attended this season, including the AFC Championship Game, when they experienced many of the wild emotions they went through in last year’s Super Bowl when the team rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons.

“We were losing our minds,” Mike said, referring to the 11-point deficit the team faced in the second quarter and 10-point hole they were in during the fourth.

“It was similar, but not quite as intense as the Super Bowl,” he added. “For three quarters we were just kind of grinding with too many three-and-outs and it’s like ‘what in the world?’ Then all of a sudden this spark happens and (Tom Brady) just starts getting into it and everything starts happen. It was just incredible.”

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The big story leading up the game was the mystery surrounding the injury to Brady’s hand, but it wasn’t a mystery to Mike and Beth. Joe let them know about the accident Brady suffered in practice and that he was going to play. But there still was concern because it was his throwing hand.

Even though Mike and Beth travel to almost every game, most of their conversations with Joe come during the week, or sometimes second hand after he’s texted with his sisters.

The in-person visits the night before the game tend to brief.

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“He comes in the room, gives us our tickets and passes and then we’ll go to Chipotle and watch him eat,” Beth said. “Then we’ll go get something to eat somewhere else. We only see him for about 30-45 minutes. He has meetings, curfews. You can tell he’s already focused on the game.”

The Thuneys are hoping there will be plenty of time to talk with their son Sunday night, and they’re hoping that conversation will take place on a U.S. Bank Stadium littered with red and blue confetti after Joe has stepped into history.

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