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Sherman's Army marches into Miami for Super Bowl 54

The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship game and Anthony Sherman, in his seventh season as the team's fullback, among his many roles, wept.

His wife Jessica, the former Jessica Arremony of Griswold High School softball notoriety, fully understood, but couldn't help teasing her 5-foot-10, 242-pound husband.

"I was kind of joking with him. He definitely had tears in his eyes," Jessica Sherman said in a telephone interview this week from her home in Overland Park, Kansas. "I said, 'I don't think I saw tears when we got married. You're lucky that I get it.'

"We both were talking about it the other day. We won the (Eastern Connecticut Conference) championship my freshman year, but in softball, volleyball and basketball, I never won the big game. I never won a state championship. I never won a national championship (in travel softball). Same thing for Anthony. He never won the conference championship. Neither of us have ever won the biggest game. Even though it's not me playing, I still feel so much a part of it."

Anthony Sherman will get his chance on Sunday night when the Chiefs play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Jessica Sherman flew to Miami on Friday along with sons 5-year-old Rex and 3-year-old Bo, while 20-month-old daughter Remi remained in Kansas. Also attending the game will be Jessica's parents, Rick and Dawn Arremony of Griswold.

Rick is set to begin his 19th season as the head softball coach at Griswold, where he coached both Jessica, a 2007 graduate and a three-time all-state selection, and her sister Stephanie, the 2004 Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year.

Jessica, who met Sherman — a 2019 Pro-Bowl selection — while both were athletes at UConn, left Griswold with all-time softball records in hits (169), batting average (.457), runs scored (149), stolen bases (25), shutouts (36) and earned run average (0.91), having played shortstop and pitched throughout her career.

She was UConn's starting shortstop from the moment she arrived in Storrs.

‘So far out of reach’

Fast forward to Sunday, Jan. 19, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, which holds the NFL record for loudest outdoor stadium at 142.2 decibels, 2.2 more decibels than the roar of an aircraft carrier.

A week after overcoming a 24-0 deficit to win a playoff game over the Houston Texans, the second-seeded Chiefs — led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes — rallied once again to topple the Tennessee Titans 35-24 to win the AFC championship. That gave the Chiefs their first Super Bowl appearance since 1970.

"It was kind of funny," Jessica said of the scene, which included both her family and Sherman's family. "They told us to go down to the family room with 5 minutes left in the game. I said, 'There's still 5:00 left in the game, I'm not leaving my seat.’

"With a minute and a half left we stopped them on fourth down, we jumped up and ran down. We were all screaming and jumping up and down. I've been on that field a million times, but I've never been on the field in a full stadium, looking up at thousands of people. I had chills."

Rick Arremony was a New York Giants fan growing up until Jessica met Sherman at UConn. Since then, Arremony has been a UConn fan, an Arizona Cardinals fan — the team that took Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft — and a Chiefs fan.

"It's kind of fun hearing everything through (Jessica)," said Arremony, who also made the trip to Miami.

"We're very excited. It's one of those things where it's so far out of reach, it wasn't even on my bucket list."

The Sausage

Anthony Sherman, 31, is from North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

In high school, he was named the 2006 Gatorade Massachusetts Football Player of the Year, finishing his career at North Attleborough High School as the all-time leading rusher with 2,537 yards and 48 touchdowns.

At UConn, Sherman was a two-time captain for coach Randy Edsall, while serving as the lead blocker for 2008 Big East Offensive Player of the Year Donald Brown and 2010 Big East Offensive Player of the Year Jordan Todman.

In Kansas City, he’s a fun-loving fan favorite — he arrives at training camp each year in a different eye-catching outfit: overalls or a red, white and blue wrestling singlet — known as “The Sausage,” or in the case of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid “a sausage with hands.”

Jessica Sherman calls Anthony “the hardest worker I’ve ever met in my life.”

“He gets to every practice two hours before he has to be there,” she said. “In the offseason I say, ‘Let’s go on vacation’ and he says, ‘I have to work out.’ We go to a conference that the NFL throws and he’ll call around to find a gym. He’ll wake up at 5 in the morning.

“He refuses to let anyone outwork him. He works hard. He doesn’t care about the glory.”

Sherman has partnered with the Veterans Community Project in Kansas City, supporting the organization by selling T-shirts with his likeness and the word “SAUSAGE” with the “USA” in the middle of the word highlighted in blue.

In his NFL career as primarily a blocking fullback, he has 25 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown and 65 catches for 547 yards and three touchdowns. He also plays as a defender on special teams with 69 career tackles and five forced fumbles. He was selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl for his special teams play and scored a touchdown.

“Wherever he goes, he ends up to be a captain,” Rick Arremony said. “In college, he played in the East-West (Shrine) Game. He was there for a week and he was captain of that team. He was a two-time captain at UConn. For the Chiefs he’s been a captain a number of times (on a game-by-game basis).

“A lot of the things you see about him is what you preach to athletes. Team first. Being selfless.”

‘Kansas City, here I come’

Kansas City is known for, among other things, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals and Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque. A former football player from Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, where the Shermans live, Graham Mertz, was a freshman quarterback this season at the University of Wisconsin.

Jessica said the Shermans hope to make their permanent home in the region — which borders Missouri — following Anthony’s retirement.

“That’s how much we love it,” Jessica said. “There’s so much to do. I feel like there’s a lot of athletes that come from here, pretty big-time. Anthony wants to take over one of the high school programs. I definitely want to coach softball, for sure.

“For a guy to stay with one team for so long, nine years in the NFL in general and the same team for seven years, we’ve been able to really make this home. We have an awesome church here, a church family we’re really close to. It’s not like all we have here is football.”

Jessica said that following the AFC Championship victory, Anthony went to pick up their sons one day at preschool and he was met with a “good luck sendoff,” complete with red and yellow flags.

She has also had several offers from friends to help with the kids while Anthony is away at the Super Bowl.

“We developed a ton of relationships that are outside of football. People in the Midwest are super welcoming,” Jessica said. “The amount of love and support we’ve gotten, from the neighbors making huge signs in their yards … the Chiefs are amazing; they put family first. It’s a family organization. They make all of us feel a part of it.

“We’re trying to get our families to move out there.

“This whole experience has been pretty surreal.”

v.fulkerson@theday.com 

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