Some coaches like to wear their championship rings on a daily basis, but Romeo Crennel keeps his five Super Bowl rings locked in a safe.
The rings rarely come out, except for special occasions.
When Crennel does actually wear football’s most prized accessory, he typically opts for the most recent – New England’s Super Bowl XXXIX victory over Philadelphia following the 2004 season.
The Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since Crennel roamed the sideline as the team’s defensive coordinator. That was seven seasons ago, when the Patriots defense tied for second in the NFL allowing only 16.3 points per game.
Crennel’s defense allowed just 45 rushing yards in the Patriots Super Bowl XXXIX win vs. the Eagles.
New England’s 2004 campaign was a special one for Crennel, but so was the New York Giants’ 1986 season. During his time with the Giants, Crennelcoached alongside Super Bowl XLVI head coaches Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin.
The Giants’ 39-20 victory over the John Elway-led Broncos was the first of six Super Bowl appearances for Crennel. He’s 5-1 in Super Bowls, earning five rings to lock away in the safe.
With deep ties to both franchises playing in this year’s World Championship, Crennel finds himself playing Switzerland.
“I’m neutral in this game, really neutral,” Crennel told Mike Francesa on WFAN in New York. “The first Super Bowl was with the Giants and the last one I won was with the Patriots, so I’m divided and it keeps me neutral.”
Keeping neutral, however, doesn’t restrict Crennel from giving his take on the key for each team to win Sunday’s game.
“I think the key for both sides is whether or not they can protect the quarterbacks,” Crennel said. “Both quarterbacks can move the ball and both quarterbacks can score points. If the offensive lines can control the pass rush – the pass rush for the Giants is pretty good and the Patriots pass rush has been coming on – I think that will be the key to this game.”
Crennel has a longstanding working relationship with Patriots QB Tom Brady. The two won three Super Bowl rings together. But he’s also impressed with Giants QB Eli Manning, who is aiming to go 2-0 against Brady in Super Bowls.
“I’ve seen Eli grow into a championship winning quarterback, but haven’t had to go against him yet,” said Crennel. “I’d look forward to that opportunity though.”
That opportunity won’t come next season unless the Chiefs and Giants square off in Super Bowl XLVII.
Manning is 2-0 all-time against the Chiefs, last leading the Giants to a 27-16 victory at Arrowhead Stadium in 2009. Crennel was hired as Kansas City’s defensive coordinator the next season.
Manning’s first victory against the Chiefs came in a 27-17 New York win at the Meadowlands in 2005. He’s 37-of-66 passing for 478 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs in his two starts against the Chiefs, good for a 86.8 QB rating.
“He’s good player and I think they have a really good team,” Crennel said. “I believe it’s going to be a really good game on Sunday.”
Crennel will be watching Sunday’s Super Bowl with significant interest. But at this point in his career, it’s about rooting for relationships over franchises.
The only franchise Crennel wants to see in the Super Bowl is the Kansas City Chiefs.