Brate, Miller bring Super Bowl rings to suburbs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were brand new to Tampa Bay this year.
Tight end Cameron Brate, a Naperville Central grad, has been there long enough to see some rough times.
Only two Buccaneers have been on the team longer than Brate -- LB Lavonte David and DE William Gholston. Wide receiver Mike Evans has him beat by a few days, since he was a first-round draft pick in 2014, the same year Brate signed as an undrafted free agent out of Harvard.
The Bucs went 2-14 during Brate's rookie season. He was the team's second-leading receiver in 2016. Now he's a Super Bowl champion.
"It's been a wild ride this year, to say the least, really for everyone," Brate said this week, according to the team's website. "It's been crazy. It feels like we're living in some bizarro world. We were all locked inside for a long time with the quarantine and everything like that. The Bucs signed Tom Brady. We got Gronk. It's just been a crazy year."
Brate and Barrington's Scotty Miller both earned Super Bowl rings on Sunday. Miller didn't see very many snaps, which was expected since Antonio Brown was back from an injury.
They were both on the field as the game ended, with Miller playing the deep running back position as Brady knelt on the final snaps.
Brate was listed as questionable all week with a back injury, but did play and made some nice contributions in Tampa Bay's 31-9 victory over Kansas City.
He caught a 5-yard pass on the Buccaneers' second drive, then took a screen pass 15 yards on Tampa's third drive, which helped set up the first touchdown of the game, an 8-yard pass from Brady to Gronkowski.
Brate could be seen punching Gronkowski in celebration after the former Patriot's second touchdown of the game. Brate also had a nice block to help set the edge on Leonard Fournette's 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Miller got one touch Sunday. On Tampa Bay's second drive, Brady pitched it to Miller on a reverse, but it lost 3 yards. Miller caught a huge touchdown pass in the NFC title game in Green Bay, but Brown missed that game with an injury.
The Buccaneers website had a good predraft anecdote about Miller. On the advice of a scout, Tampa Bay receivers coach Kevin Garver watched some Bowling Green game film late one night and got so excited, he immediately called Miller, forgetting it was 4:30 a.m.
He said Miller didn't pick up the phone, but called back about 30 minutes later. Miller was the Bucs' sixth-round draft pick in 2019.
Miller did get plenty of attention the last few weeks for saying he'd be willing to race Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill. Maybe that can still happen someday.
"I'm very confident in my speed. I think I can run with anybody, anywhere," Miller said this week. "I think I should start getting more respect for what I do on Sundays, but it is what it is. I can't control that. I just go out there and try to make plays when my number's called."