Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack has been a key part of the high-powered offence that has taken the team to Super Bowl LI against the New England Patriots. Mack, who wears #51, suffered a leg injury during the Falcons’ NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers, but is still expected to start the Super Bowl.
The 31-year-old Mack, a Los Angeles native, is married to Alyssa Mack, nee Ropes. You can follow Mack on Twitter right here.
Here’s a look at Mack’s life, career and his injury.
1. Mack Didn’t Practice at All During the Week Before Super Bowl Week, but Expects to Play
As 11Alive.com notes, Mack suffered an injury to his left fibula during the NFC Championship Game victory over the Packers, forcing Ben Garland to fill in at center during the last series of the game. ESPN reported that both Mack and wide receiver Julio Jones didn’t practice during the week between the Packers game and the Super Bowl.
However, Mack has told reporters that he intends to play. 11Alive.com noted that Mack appeared to walk normally to the Falcons bus in Houston on January 30. The team practiced at Rice University before the game against the Patriots.
According to Yahoo Sports, there are reports that Mack will be playing in the Super Bowl with a fracture in his left leg.
2. Mack Reportedly Took Less Money to Sign With the Falcons & Instead of Re-Signing With the Browns
Mack started his career in 2009 with the Cleveland Browns, who drafted him in the first round of the 2009 draft with the 21st pick. He was drafted high thanks to his stellar career at the University of California Berkley, where he won the Draddy and Morris Trophies.
After seven seasons with the Browns, Mack decided to join the Falcons. Fox Sports reports that he decided to use an opt-out clause in his contract to sign a five-year, $47.5 million deal with the Falcons. The first two years are fully guaranteed.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported on Twitter that Mack’s deal averages out to $9.5 million a year, but he could have made $500,000 more a year in Cleveland. Mack wanted to re-join Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who he worked with in Cleveland.
3. His Wife Worked as a Teacher in Ohio While He Played for the Browns
Mack is married to Alyssa Ropes and the two have appeared at red carpet events together recently. While he played in Cleveland, Alyssa taught math at Olmsted Falls High School in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, according her Rate My Teachers profile. A Cleveland Magazine photo gallery shows the two together at an event in September 2015.
Mack only has a Twitter page, which does not include pictures of his wife.
4. Mack Was the First California Player to Win the Draddy Trophy, Also Known as the ‘Academic Heisman’
In 2008, Mack became the first player from the University of California to win the Draddy Trophy, as USA Today reported at the time. The Draddy is an award for football players with high academic excellence, so it’s known as the “Academic Heisman.” The award also included a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.
Mack earned a bachelor’s degree in legal studies with a 3.61 GPA. He went on to earn a Master’s in Education.
During his college career, Mack also picked up the Morris Trophy in 2007 and 2008. He was the first player to win the award twice since 1992. Mack also played in the 2009 Senior Bowl.
As Cleveland.com reported in 2009, the Browns tested Mack’s brains too, giving him a football test.
“Being a smart player, knowing the playbook well and knowing how to get the play accomplished is important,” Mack told Cleveland.com in 2009. “Offense isn’t simple. They threw a lot at me at Cal. We had a complex offense and a lot was required of me there.”
5. Mack Is One of 5 Former Browns Playing in Super Bowl LI
Browns fans usually don’t have much to root for during the postseason, since the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002. But they can root for several former Browns during the Super Bowl. As Sporting News notes, Mack and Taylor Gabriel are two Falcons who used to play for the Browns. The Patriots have three former Browns – Dion Lewis, Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard.
USA Today points out that Mack had four different coaches during his seven seasons with the Browns and 12 different stating quarterbacks. In 2015, his last season with the Browns, Mack snapped the ball to three different quarterbacks.