Green Bay Packers Super Bowl ring
Two former Packers Super Bowl winners have roots in the valley.

Two have Super Bowl rings for the Green Bay Packers

The Salinas Valley runs from Castroville and Salinas towards King City and San Ardo, and there must be something in the water of the Salinas River, judging by how many incredible athletes hail from the region. Over the years, athletes born in the Salinas Valley have embarked on long, illustrious professional careers filled with riches, trophies, and admiration from loving fans.

Although no National Football League players have come from King City, as you would expect from a population of 13,000, many NFL stars are intrinsically linked to the neighboring towns and cities in the Salinas Valley, with four of those stars capturing American football’s biggest prize. We are, of course, talking about the coveted Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is a magical sporting event that captures the imagination of anyone with even the remotest interest in American football. Families gather around the television, online sportsbooks in California are busier than ever, and millions of people worldwide tune into the event, some just for the famous halftime show. Every young American football player dreams of getting their hands on a Super Bowl ring. It remains a pipedream for most, but not for these four men. All four have played on the biggest stage, defied the odds, and become Super Bowl champions.

Chris Dalman

Chris Dalman was born in Salinas, California, in March 1970. He attended Palma School, where he played offensive and defensive tackle. He graduated in 1988 and committed to Stanford University. Dalman suffered a back injury while at college and underwent spinal fusion surgery between his sophomore and junior years at Stanford, but he amazingly returned to the football field.

Dalman entered the 1993 NFL Draft, and the San Francisco 49ers selected him as the 166th overall pick in the sixth round. Although Dalman found starts hard to come by, he was part of the 49ers team that won Super Bowl XXIX in 1995. He found his feet the following season, starting all 16 games, and eventually hung up his boots, having played 105 games (starting 64) for the 49ers.

Although Dalman has been retired since 2000, he is actively involved in football. He was a coach for Palma High School, the Atlanta Falcons, and Stanford. Dalman’s son, Drew, plays for the Atlanta Falcons, having been drafted 114th overall in the 2021 draft. Perhaps the Dalman family will have two Super Bowl champions in it in the next few years?

Carl Nicks

Carl Nicks
Former New Orleans Saint and North Salinas High School student Carl Nicks

Carl Nicks was born in San Francisco in May 1985 and attended North Salinas High School. He graduated in 2003 and attended three colleges, settling on Nebraska in 2006, where he played for the Cornhuskers. Nicks was known for his on- and off-the-field problems, but the controversial young guard had obvious talent.

The New Orleans Saints recognized Nicks’ potential and selected him 164th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. The Saints threw Nicks into the starting lineup after one of their regular guards, Jamar Nesbit, violated the league’s substance abuse policy. Nicks performed above expectations, playing all 16 games in his rookie season, starting 13. 

Nicks started all 16 games in 2009 and was the Saints’ starting left guard by 2010. This meant Nicks was part of the Saints team that won Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. Nicks received a Super Bowl ring and gave a profanity-laced interview following the Saints’ win.

In 2012, Nicks signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but things didn’t work out for the North Salinas man. A toe problem required surgery, and he was kept on the injured reserve list. He then suffered from a treatment-resistant bacterial infection in addition to several other health issues, and the Buccaneers and Nicks mutually agreed to part ways. He retired in 2013, having played only nine games across two seasons for the Bucs.

Evan Smith

Evan Smith was born in Salinas in July 1986. Smith attended Beuna Vista Middle School and Salinas High School before heading to Idaho State for college. A 6-foot, 2-inch, 308-pound giant of a man, Smith played as a center as a youngster but switched to guard later in his career. Although talented, Smith went undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft but didn’t give up on his dream of playing professionally.

He signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent, but the Packers cut him after training camp. He spent one month with the Seattle Seahawks before they cut him, and he returned to the Packers in December 2010.

Smith didn’t feature for the Packers in 2010 but played 16 games in 2011, starting three, and was part of the team that won Super Bowl XLV. He played another 32 games, including 22 starts, for the Packers over the next two seasons before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March 2014. After starting 15 of the Buccaneers’ 16 games in 2014, injuries hindered Smith’s career and limited him to only a handful of appearances over the next few seasons. The Buccaneers released Smith in August 2019, and he hung up his boots shortly after.

Nick McDonald

Born in Salinas in June 1987, Nick McDonald played for the same Green Bay Packers team as Evan Smith. McDonald’s family moved away when he was young, and he attended Henry Ford II High School in Michigan before representing Grand Valley State University.

Like Smith, McDonald went undrafted (in 2010) yet found his way onto the Packers’ roster. Being part of the roster meant he collected a Super Bowl ring when the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.

McDonald’s NFL career failed to take off, and he managed only 24 games, including ten starts, before he called it a day in 2015. McDonald played for the New England Patriots and was part of the practice squad for the San Diego Chargers and the Cleveland Browns.

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