MADISON, Wis. — Former Wisconsin Badgers standouts Beau Allen and Chris Maragos returned to campus Sunday, where they were honored during the first half of Wisconsin’s regular-season basketball finale. Allen and Maragos, now teammates with the Philadelphia Eagles, were back in town after earning a Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots earlier this month.
Allen appeared in 54 career games at Wisconsin from 2010-13 and recorded 94 tackles with 15 tackles for loss. He was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Maragos began his college career at Western Michigan as a wide receiver before transferring to Wisconsin in 2007 as a walk-on. Maragos tallied 94 tackles with 5 interceptions in two seasons for the Badgers and went undrafted in 2010. He has played with San Francisco, Seattle and Philadelphia.
Allen and Maragos spoke with reporters before the basketball game Sunday about their experiences at Wisconsin and in the NFL. Here’s what they had to say:
For both of you, in what ways do you think being a part of Wisconsin’s program helped prepare you for what you would face in the NFL?
Beau Allen: I think I definitely noticed this early in my career, just playing against a pro-style offense and the offensive lines that we had. I’ve said this time and time again. It really prepared me for the type of offenses we play in the NFL and really the type of O-line, the bodies and the talent level and stuff like that, that I see every week. I feel like every week I’m playing against another Badger offensive lineman or running back or something like that. So definitely from that aspect.
But also I think just the kind of mentality of guys here and guys that have played at the college level here and had success and then gone on to the NFL. Guys that I emulated when I was a young college player. I think kind of looking at those guys and trying to model myself and my behavior after those guys really helped me.
Chris Maragos: Obviously, the physical aspects of just being a college football player here and being taught the right things. I think for me more than anything, it was the things that I learned as a man and through the integrity and the character that you need to get to the next level and to stay at the next level.
When I transitioned out of Wisconsin, I was an undrafted guy, and the discipline and the things I had learned in my time here made the transition to the NFL extremely smooth because I knew how to do things the right way. I was coached really well. I knew not to cut corners. I knew about work ethic. I knew about all the things it was going to take to have success at the next level. I would say that was really, really important in my career to be to this point.
What is one moment that sticks out to you from the Super Bowl?
Maragos: For me, it was definitely the parade. I think just because everybody’s been waiting for this for so long. As an Eagles fan, the whole community is invested in it. They pour everything they have into the team all year round. They’re talking about football in February, March, April, when it’s the offseason. Just that everybody was so excited about it. The city really emulates a lot of what our team was this year. Hard working. Blue-collar-type town. And that’s exactly what our team was. We didn’t have a whole lot of flashes to us. We just went to work every day and had a lot of success.
Allen: Yeah, the parade was amazing. All year guys were kind of talking about you win the Super Bowl, the parade is going to be unbelievable. So you get an idea for it. And then you actually show up on the day of the parade, and it exceeds all of your expectations. You can’t even really describe it. That was something that will stick with me.
We got together with some guys last night. It was kind of a funny story. I was playing the Super Bowl obviously against James White, who is a friend of mine. We played here at UW together. One thing I’ll always remember about the game. I had a dirty assist where I jumped on a pile and tackled him. And my facemask was right up on his face. It was the Super Bowl. I was like, “Oh, hey, James. What’s up?” He was like, “What’s up, Beau?” We kind of went our separate ways and jogged back to the huddle. So that’s one thing that I think was a fun little memory for me.
Chris, how’s it feel to win a Super Bowl in Seattle and Philadelphia? What does it mean to win a Super Bowl with your second team?
Maragos: It’s special. I think the second time around you really realize a lot more just how rare it is and how special it is. The first time, it’s kind of a whirlwind for you just because you get to the point, you win the game, everybody’s excited about it. But the thing about it is you don’t really know how to embrace the process the week of.
I really would say how to enjoy it afterward. But the second time you go through it, you understand how rare and how hard it is to get to that point. So I think you savor every moment a little bit more. So this one was really, really sweet, especially being the franchise’s first Super Bowl in Philadelphia and how great that was.
Allen: If I could hop in really quick and kind of gas Chris up a little bit. When we were first kind of starting our playoff run and we were playing the Falcons, Coach [Doug Pederson] brought up guys that had been there before and had them address the team. Chris did an unbelievable job. And it’s tough to get in front of a team and talk. I think it was really our whole organization that was there, like our front office, the other side of the building that you’re not really that associated with as a player.
But Chris kind of talked to everybody and did a really good job of sharing his experience in Seattle and telling us what to expect and kind of how to behave and how to act under those kind of circumstances. So as a leader, Chris did an unbelievable job of really setting the expectations for us really on in the playoff run.
Beau, at what point did you know they were playing a Super Bowl in your hometown of the Twin Cities, and how long had you thought about playing there?
Allen: I thought about that for a while. I kind of joked about it with my buddies, actually. I think we found out maybe like a year and a half ago or something like that. The Vikings were building this brand new, really cool stadium and all that. The Super Bowl was there. We were joking that Super Bowl 2018 would be in Minnesota and we could get all the guys together when the Eagles went there. And then lo and behold, that actually ended up happening.
It was kind of a dream come true. It’s weird because I look back and I’m like damn, the Super Bowl is in Minneapolis. What an experience. It just seems like a dream come true really. I can’t really even think of a good way to describe it.
Chris, as an undrafted free agent, you have good insight into what Corey Clement was able to do for your team. How important was he to your stretch run?
Maragos: Corey’s been unbelievable for us all year. He came in from the day he stepped in, in OTAs, he really represented the university well because I was hyping him up coming in to all the guys saying this dude can play, this dude can play.
Allen: Yeah, we were both talking him up big. He had a lot of shoes to fill.
Maragos: A lot of shoes to fill, yeah. And he filled them, though. He came in, he did everything that the team asked for him. He was running on kickoffs. He made our first kickoff tackle, our first game, really set the tone for the whole game. We beat the Redskins there in Week 1 on the road. His role just kept expanding.
I think that really epitomizes a lot of what the guys who come from this program emulate. Just give me an opportunity and we’re going to make the most of it, and that’s what Corey did. You obviously saw throughout our playoff run stretch. He had a big I think it was a third down pivotal moment in the game against the Falcons or Vikings when he stiff-armed one of those guys. He had a huge play for us. It was going to be probably a tackle for loss, and he broke a couple tackles and made like 10 yards. Got the drive alive. I think it was against Atlanta.
Obviously you saw what he did in the Super Bowl. We’re real excited for his success. And he’s a young player that is only going to get better with more time, too.
For both of you, how much leading up to Super Bowl week, how much did James White factor into your game plan?
Allen: Well it’s funny because you see, we definitely talked about it. You definitely notice a guy like that. He’s a mismatch in coverage for linebackers. You saw what he did last year in the Super Bowl against the Falcons and that unbelievable game he played. So obviously you take notice of a guy like that. You game plan against him.
We definitely knew where he was on the field and try to neutralize him. He had a really good game against us, too. He had a really good 30-yard touchdown run. He did a lot of good things for them. He’s a really good player.
Maragos: I would say too from the back end, more from the defensive back perspective, he creates a lot of unique mismatches. Really creates problems for a defense because if you go into your dime package or nickel to put a guy in the box to cover him, that can stay with him, you’re light in the run game and then they just start running the ball down you.
Those safeties or cornerbacks or whatever it might be, they can’t hold up. Or if you keep your base package in and you’ve got a linebacker manned up on him, he’s just running by guys and he’s running his routes. He really opens up a lot of things to do what they do on offense. He’s a unique challenge for sure. We talked a lot about what he does and how we had to stop him.
Allen: And James is a great teammate, too. All the way back to being here at UW. Really detail oriented, really focused on those little things. You can tell he puts a lot of time and effort into doing things the right way. I have a lot of respect for James as a person and a player.
Beau, when you realized you did win the Super Bowl, what were the thoughts and emotions going through your head?
Allen: I don’t know if I can tell you a lot of them in this kind of setting. Maybe after. You just realize you kind of think to yourself, the game is so long and drawn out during the day because there’s such a buildup going up to it and the week of. There’s so much media involved. It’s kind of mentally draining that after the game I felt like I was almost kind of numb to it. You’re taking it all in. “Damn, I just won the Super Bowl.”
For me it was in my home state. You just keep saying that to yourself over and over again to make sure it’s real. But it’s really I can’t even tell you. I’ll never forget, I think my favorite moment actually was right after the incomplete pass to finish the game, we stormed the field. And it’s pandemonium out there. There’s people everywhere, everyone is celebrating.
I remember seeing Brent Celek who is a teammate of ours in Philly. He’s been there for 10 years. He’s kind of the ultimate grinder, does it all right. Does scout team reps. Blocks. Works his ass off. He’s just an unbelievable guy. I think he was so stunned and so happy. The look on his face, I’ll never forget that. That’s the reason we play the game is for moments like that and to kind of share those moments with teammates.
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