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Super Bowl has Uniondale connections

Green Bay Packers right end Andrew Quarless celebrates

Green Bay Packers right end Andrew Quarless celebrates his nine-yard touchdown reception with a Lambeau Leap during the second quarter of their game against the Minnesota Vikings. (Oct. 24, 2010) Credit: MCT

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Super Bowl is being played in Dallas this year, but its Long Island epicenter is in Uniondale.

That's where Packers rookie tight end Andrew Quarless grew up and played two years of high school football, and it's where injured Steelers offensive tackle Willie Colon played college football at Hofstra.

Who knew Hempstead Turnpike was such a launching pad to the NFL's biggest show?

Quarless spent Tuesday taking in his first Media Day experience, gazing at the overflow of reporters and answering questions about everything from the game plan against the Steelers to his expanding role on the team to who does his tattoos. The one thing that caught his eye - and everyone's eye for that matter - was the video board that hangs over the field at Cowboys Stadium.

"That JumboTron is . . . whew!" Quarless said of the 40-yard-long display. "That was one of the first things I saw when I came out. I'm just ready to make a play so I can see myself on the big screen. It's amazing."

Quarless has a pretty good shot at making in onto the screen. Colon does not. He already has a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers, but the starting right tackle blew out his Achilles just before the start of training camp last summer and has been on injured reserve since. He said he's about 85 percent back and hopes to be fully ready to play by the time minicamps begin. Of course that depends on a new CBA between the union and the owners, as well as the Steelers' intentions because Colon is due to be a free agent after this season ends next month.

"We'll see how it all works out," Colon said. "It should be interesting."

While they might have passed each other any number of times in the Uniondale neighborhood, Quarless and Colon do not know each other. And while one shows his hometown pride prominently, the other has no Pride to go back to.

Quarless doesn't have to tell you where he's from. You can read it for yourself. The Packers rookie tight end has tattoos running down each of his forearms reflecting his hometown. On his left is a map of Long Island with a star where his hometown of Uniondale is; the words "Strong Island" written below. On the right, three large digits representing his home area code: 516.

As for Colon, Hofstra disbanding its football program just more than a year ago was like pulling the roots out from under a tree. He said his teammates have been giving him grief over it, taunting him about being a college football orphan.

"It's tough that they let the program go," Colon said. "There was so much history, so many good ballplayers came out of there. It was a stamp of Long Island. I'd love to see some type of action to get it back."

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