HOUSTON — Former UCLA linebacker Roman Phifer, now in his 13th season in the NFL, has started every game for the New England Patriots since their season-opening 31-0 loss at Buffalo.
Phifer makes his off-season home in the Hastings Ranch area of Pasadena.
His wife, Linda, is from Pasadena, but Phifer is from Charlotte, N.C.
During Super Bowl media day here Tuesday, Phifer said he got game tickets for 15 relatives and friends from Charlotte.
"Yeah, some of them are pretty big Panther fans," he said.
But will they be rooting for his team Sunday?
"I hope so," Phifer said.
Trivia time: Who was Phifer named after?
Multi-talented: Phifer was a star in football and basketball in high school. Matt Stevens, who was a senior quarterback at UCLA when Phifer was a redshirt freshman, recalled his introduction to Phifer. It was at a pick-up basketball game involving senior and freshman football players.
"The opening tip went to Phifer and he took about four steps and slammed in a tomahawk dunk like you wouldn't believe," Stevens said. "We thought we were going to kill the freshmen, but they killed us and Phifer had like 40 points."
Just a thought: Troy Aikman, former UCLA quarterback, said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters that he was merely looking out for his alma mater when he picked up the phone 13 months ago, dialed the Bruin athletic department and left a message.
Athletic Director Dan Guerrero was searching for a football coach after firing Bob Toledo, and Aikman tossed him the name of Norv Turner, Aikman's offensive coordinator in Dallas, former Washington Redskin head coach and coach of the Oakland Raiders since Monday.
Guerrero, however, had his sights set on another former NFL head coach -- Mike Riley -- and an NFL assistant with no head coaching experience he ultimately hired -- Karl Dorrell.
Maybe Guerrero was scared off by the line in Turner's resume that reads: USC assistant, 1976-84.
Impostor: Sal Iacono, a cousin of ABC late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel who does offbeat bits for the show, wore a No. 4 Carolina jersey and tried to pass himself off as Panther kicker John Kasay.
Despite the fact Iacono was wearing a different-colored jersey from the rest of the Panthers, several reporters fell for it and conducted straight interviews, believing they were talking to Kasay. Iacono didn't level with the reporters, but he said he gave such outlandish answers that they should have figured it out.
For example, when he was asked what it would mean to win Sunday's game, he said, "It wouldn't mean too much because I already make more money than you guys."
Trivia answer: Former Ram quarterback Roman Gabriel, who is from North Carolina.
And finally: Phifer's middle name is Zubinski. Why Zubinski? His father James just picked it out of the phone book.
Larry Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.