Behold ancient high school yearbook photos of Super Bowl heroes

Why Is It Super Bowl 50 and Not Super Bowl L?

When the dust has finally settled around Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night, either Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning or Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be hailed as a hero.

They'll be cemented in the Super Bowl pantheon alongside legends like Joe Montana, Emmitt Smith and Charles Haley. But let's go back even further — to a time when those gridiron stars of yore were just awkward teens with funny-looking high school yearbook photos. trawled their archives and came up with some excellent pulls, which they then passed on to us and are presented below. From Montana rocking bell-bottoms, to Deion Sanders already looking ready for primetime — these are some serious blasts from the past.

1. Joe Montana


Image: Lennox McLennon/Associated Press

Before Joe Cool won four Super Bowls and three Super Bowl MVP awards with the San Francisco 49ers, he was a star at Ringgold High School in western Pennsylvania. Here's his senior pic.


Here's a more casual shot of Joe rocking classic '70s style.


And here's the future Hall of Fame quarterback playing baseball in some terrifically old-school sweatpants.


2. Emmitt Smith


Image: Tom DiPace/Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys icon and three-time Super Bowl champ attended Escambia High School in Pensacola, Florida, before moving on to the University of Florida and then the NFL. This is him already looking like a grown man as a high school junior.


3. Deion Sanders


Image: Tom DiPace/Associated Press

Sanders accomplished the remarkable feat of winning consecutive Super Bowls with different teams in 1995 and 1996, first doing so with the 49ers and then doing it again with the Cowboys. Before all that, though, he starred in multiple sports at Florida's North Fort Myers High School and took a senior portrait that already boasted his trademark swagger.


4. Larry Allen


Image: David Phillip/Associated Press

Among the greatest offensive linemen of his generation, Allen won Super Bowl XXX with Cowboys in 1996. Here he is, first as a high school freshmen then again as a high school senior. What a difference a few years makes.



Allen is also a former homecoming king. Glory days!


5. Charles Haley


Image: Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

Haley is one of the most menacing defensive players in NFL history. He also won five Super Bowls with the 49ers and Cowboys between 1989 and 1996. Once upon a time, though, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was just a (relatively) little high school sophomore.


Haley also played some basketball (we're guessing not at point guard).


6. Lawrence Taylor


Image: NFL Photos/Associated Press

Another legendary defender, this is Taylor as a sophomore at Lafayette High School in Virginia.


7. Ray Lewis


Image: Allen Kee/Associated Press

Lewis, currently an ESPN commentator, led the Baltimore Ravens to Super Bowl wins in 2001 and 2013. Here he is as a youngster at Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida.


8. Desmond Howard


Image: Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

This is Howard, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXI in 1997, as a senior at St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, Ohio.


9. Ronnie Lott


Image: NFL Photos/Associated Press

Lott helped lead the 49ers to four Super Bowl wins between 1982 and 1990. In this photo of him as a teenager, you can already see a striking resemblance to the feared defensive back he would become.


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