Trio of Zips Celebrate Super Sunday Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Monday, February 04 2008
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Domenik Hixon Watches Game Winning FG in Green Bay
Super Bowl Sunday was a good day to be a New York Giant and not too shabby if you were an Akron Zip either as three former members of the Akron Zips had reason to celebrate Super Sunday.

When the New York Giants registered one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history by defeating the New England Patriots, 17-14, Mid-American Conference fans may have recognized a couple of smiling faces on the Giants squad.

The first man to touch the pigskin on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLII was none other than former Akron wide receiver and special teams performer Domenik Hixon.

Hixon, who had earlier this season returned a kickoff for a touchdown against the New England Patriots in the Giants' 38-35 loss to New England on December 29, averaged 24.8 yards per kick return this past season for New York. Hixon's touchdown return against the Patriots was the Giants only special teams touchdown this past year.

Chase Blackburn

Hixon arrived with the Giants in October after being unexpectedly released by the Denver Broncos who had drafted Hixon in the 4th round in the 2006 NFL Draft after a career at Akron that saw Hixon haul in 141 receptions for 2,092 yards and 14 touchdowns in just two seasons after being converted from free safety. Hixon also caught the game-winning touchdown in Akron's 31-30 victory over Northern Illinois in the 2005 MAC championship game.

Hixon also tallied 1,646 yards in returns during his collegiate career which included a pair of touchdowns. For his efforts Hixon was named the 2005 MAC Special Teams MVP by MAC Report Online following the conclusion of Akron's 2005 MAC Championship Season. Hixon ranks fourth all-time at Akron on the career all-purpose yardage list.

Joining Hixon as a member of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants is former Zips linebacker Chase Blackburn. Blackburn led the Zips with 96 tackles in 2002 and recorded a team-high five sacks in his senior campaign in 2004.

Blackburn appeared in all 16 games this past season for the Giants, playing primarily on special teams and recorded five tackles. Blackburn joined the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2005.

A third Zip also got on the field for Super Bowl XLII but did not suit up.

Former Akron defensive Jason Taylor, now a member of the Miami Dolphins, was honored during an on-field ceremony as the "2007 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year" award winner. Taylor was presented with the trophy by the widow of former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, Connie Payton, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

 Jason Taylor

The award acknowledges a player's off-field community service in addition to his on-field performance.

Taylor, the Dolphins' all-time career sacks leader and a six-time Pro Bowl selection, established the Jason Taylor Foundation in 2004 to assist impoverished children in the South Florida area. In 2007 the Foundation contributed over $300,000 to various programs dedicated to assisting disadvantaged youth and established the "Jason Taylor Reading Room," an after-school program designed to counteract illiteracy among inner-city youth. In addition, Taylor contributed $50,000 to Holz Children's Hospital in Miami and opened the "Jason Taylor Children's Learning Center" for hospitalized children.

In accepting the award, Taylor stated "I am extremely humbled to receive an award bearing Walter Payton's name as he embodied everything an NFL player should aspire to be, both on and off the field."

While a member of the Zips, Taylor led Akron in tackles in 1995, recording a team high 99 stops and topped Akron for three straight season in sacks from 1994-1996, registering 21 total sacks and his four fumble recoveries in 1996 also topped the Zips. Taylor finished his career at Akron as the school's all-time leader with 41 tackles for loss.

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