John Lotulelei is not in New York for the Super Bowl, but there aren't many people who have a better feel for the matchup.
The 2009 Baldwin High School graduate played linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos in a preseason game and made three tackles in two regular-season games with the NFC champions before being waived and finishing his rookie year with the Jackson-ville Jaguars.
"I'll have to go with the Seahawks," Lotulelei said of his pick to win. "Man, it's going to be a really tough game. For me, it was such an honor to play on that freaking defense along with all the players on that team."
John Lotulelei, shown playing for the Seattle Seahawks during a preseason game in August, could be in line for a Super Bowl ring.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS photo
John Lotulelei plays for the Seattle Seahawks in September against the Jacksonville Jaguars — the team with which he finished the season.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS photo
The Seahawks beat the Broncos 40-10 in Seattle in the second preseason game for both teams in August. Seattle led 33-7 at halftime.
"Our first team and their first team played for the first two quarters," said Lotulelei, who made the Seahawks' roster as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada-Las Vegas. "They went at it and our defense held their ground against them. Now, at the end of the year, they're both developed and much better now, so it's going to be a crazy game."
Lotulelei said he is not sad about what could have been.
From the MIL to the NFL
Jaguars / Seahawks
WITH SEAHAWKS: Two games, three tackles.
WITH JAGUARS: 12 games, nine tackles, one forced fumble.
SEASON TOTALS: 14 games, 12 tackles, one forced fumble.
SUPER BOWL ON TV
Sunday At East Rutherford, N.J.
Denver vs. Seattle, 1:30 p.m. HST (FOX)
"I mean, it would have been great if I was still out there, I would have been at the Super Bowl right now," he said. "But things happen for a reason, I accept that."
Lotulelei does not know if he is in line for a Super Bowl ring or any playoff money - Sunday's winning share is $92,000 per player; the losers receive $46,000 apiece.
"I will have to check with my agent on that," he said. "Man, that would be so awesome to come in as a rookie and get a Super Bowl ring. That's what everyone was telling me when I first signed with the Seahawks. Everyone went, 'Hey, you are about to win the Super Bowl.'
"At first it bothered me (after getting waived), but now I'm, like, 'Man, that could have happened.' "
He said the key for the Seahawks' defense will be putting pressure on Peyton Manning.
"The main thing, they have got to continue to rush the quarterback," Lotulelei said. "The same thing they have been doing for the past couple of games in the playoffs - that's the main thing with Peyton Manning, they have to get someone on him so he can move around and release the ball as quick as he could.
"That's the main reason our DBs - I mean Seattle's DBs - are ranked No. 1."
Lotulelei said he was on the field for "one or two plays against Peyton" in the preseason game.
"I was hoping to get a blitz call against him, to at least get pretty close to him, but the only plays I got were run plays," Lotulelei said. "I never had the chance to play any pass defense against him."
Lotulelei is in Las Vegas finishing the final three classes for his degree in interdisciplinary studies.
"It is so important," he said. "I just want to get it over with so I don't have to worry about it later on in life."
Lotulelei has two seasons remaining on his contract, but knows that in the NFL, "nothing's guaranteed, they can cut me anytime. There is no time to rest. I had a good one month of not doing anything, now I have to get back on my program."
Lotulelei's younger brother, Tau Lotulelei, had 31 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2013 for the Rebels.
"Probably in like a month or so we will start working out together," John Lotulelei said. "The main thing with Tau is he has that same motivation, that same drive to work hard, but the other thing I have learned from college and football is pay attention to detail. That will help improve his game a lot."
John Lotulelei is scheduled to report on April 21 for offseason training in Jacksonville. The Super Bowl remains the ultimate goal - Lotulelei had nine tackles in 12 games for the Jaguars, who finished the season 4-12 under head coach Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012.
"That would be something, that's the talk that is going around, especially with the coach coming from Seattle - he knows how to win," Lotulelei said. "I guess that's why they brought him over there. We made a few changes - we won four games from two the year before - but that would be so good, man, that would be great."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org