In a couple days, the biggest game of the sports year will get underway.

With Super Bowl LIII kicking off Sunday, we tracked down a handful of former local athletes with professional football ties to get their prediction on the Rams-Patriots showdown.

Stephen Neal

Bakersfield ties: Neal was a two-time national-champion wrestler at Cal State Bakersfield (1998, 1999). He held a 156-10 career record at the school and a 120-2 mark in his final three years.

Career NFL highlight: After entering the league as an undrafted free agent, Neal eventually settled in as a starting guard for the Patriots. He played 10 years in New England, blocking for Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady,  winning three Super Bowls in the process.

Prediction: "I will go 34-31, Patriots. I expect an exciting game just like last year, this season has been fun to watch. I believe experience will come into play at some point and one or two mistakes will create the outcome."

David Carr

Bakersfield ties: Stockdale High graduate in 1997. Played college football at Fresno State.

Career NFL highlight: 11 years in the NFL, including five years as starting quarterback of the Houston Texans and four (2008-09, 2011-12) as backup quarterback of the New York Giants, winners of the 2011 Super Bowl. No. 1 overall pick in 2002 draft.

Prediction: "Rams over Patriots. The NFC is absolutely loaded, with about six teams looking like true contenders. It's the Rams, though, who edge out the competition, and Sean McVay proceeds to out-scheme Bill Belichick for his first Lombardi."

Rashaan Shehee

Bakersfield ties: The 1993 Foothill High graduate is currently girls basketball coach at Bakersfield High.

Career NFL highlight: After a standout career at the University of Washington, Shehee played two years with the Kansas City Chiefs. His best season was 1999, when he started five games, gained 374 all-purpose yards and scored a touchdown.

Prediction: Patriots over Rams, 27-20. I'm just pulling for Tom Brady to add to his greatness. I'm in awe of what he has accomplished throughout his career.

Larry Parker

Bakersfield ties: Bakersfield High graduate played college football at USC before being selected in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft.

Career NFL highlight: Parker played wide receiver for Kansas City from 1999-2001. His best season was 2001, when he caught 15 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns.

Prediction: Patriots over Rams, 30-17. You can't ever bet against Tom Brady.

Jeff Buckey

Bakersfield ties: Bakersfield High graduate in 1992 who played college football at Stanford.

Career NFL highlight: Was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Played three seasons with the Dolphins (1996-98), blocking for Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, and one with the San Francisco 49ers (1999).

Prediction: New England is my pick. Although I can't stand the Patriots from my playing days in Miami, I can't look past the success Brady and Co. have had over the years winning Super Bowls.

Rodney Wright

Bakersfield ties: Bakersfield High graduate in 1998 who played college football at Fresno State with Carr.

Career NFL highlight: The wide receiver was selected in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.

Prediction: #RamsHouse Defense shows up and shows out!

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.