Sony Michel looking to shine once more on biggest of stages

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Sony Michel has a history of shining under the brightest of lights.

At Georgia, it was a game-winning overtime touchdown in the Rose Bowl to send the Bulldogs to the national championship in the 2017-18 season. Fast forward one week, and Michel would end his UGA career with a loss to Alabama in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium but left as the Bulldogs’ third all-time leading rusher.

A few months later, Michel, a Florida-born star of Haitian descendants, heard his name called with the 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.

A nagging knee injury in the preseason and a slow start prompted quick criticism of Michel’s ability. He got healthy and quickly silenced his doubters, rushing for 931 yards and six touchdowns in the regular season of his rookie year.

When the playoffs rolled around, Michel made history scoring an NFL playoff record six touchdowns while rushing for 336 yards.

Super Bowl LIII was held in none other than Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Michel had suffered a heartbreaking defeat just one year prior. Of course the Patriots would go on to win that game, beating Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. Michel rushed for 94 yards and scored the only touchdown of the game.

Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (26) scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Michel spent three seasons with the Patriots, racking up 535 attempts for 2,292 yards with 14 touchdowns and another 258 yards and 26 receptions through the air. He was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams – the team he beat in the Super Bowl just a couple years prior – this past offseason for a few late-round draft picks.

Michel spent much of the 2021 season splitting carries with Darrell Henderson, but found himself as the Rams’ primary back in December as Henderson was dealing with injuries and Covid. Michel led the NFL in rushing in the month of December with 423 yards and one again proved his doubters, this time the New England Patriots, wrong.

Now Michel, joined by fellow Bulldogs Matthew Stafford and Leonard Floyd, have an opportunity to bring a Super Bowl to the Rams organization for the first time since 1999.

Michel and the Rams have another tough task this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship, a team that has done a good job of limiting the former Georgia running back in two meetings this season.

Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel, center, runs for a touchdown as quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

For Michel, he’s on a mission to win his second Super Bowl in just his fourth season in the NFL. But as he’s noted, this is not just for him, but for his family.

Migrants of Haiti, Jean and Marie Michel met in Florida in 1991, where they had Sony and older brother Marken after leaving their daughter Lamise behind in Haiti. Michel’s mother came to the United States on a ferry with 13 other people at the age of 23.

“When I walk on that field, that Michel on my back is not just for me. It’s bigger than me. It’s my family.”