While this year’s Super Bowl features only one Badger, there are still enough guys with Wisconsin ties (state or program) to warrant a quick dive into who they are.
Hopefully, 2025 will give me more to work with, because featuring an ex-Hawkeye hurts my soul a bit.
The Badger From Birth: Leo Chenal
A three-star recruit (the 635th best player in the country per 24/7 Sports) and fan favorite from tiny Grantsburg, Wisconsin, Chenal played three seasons for the Badgers before skipping his last year of eligibility in Madison in 2022 to test his fortunes in the NFL—and so far, so good.
After winning the Butkus Award and being named All-Big Ten after the 2021 season for the Badgers, Chenal declared for the draft, where he was taken by Kansas City in the third round (No. 103 overall).
He has since had two very solid seasons with the Chiefs, making the Super Bowl in both, including racking up six tackles and a sack in Kansas City’s Super Bowl win over the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
He made a nice jump at linebacker for Kansas City in 2023, registering 65 tackles and three sacks, and is an important piece of the Chiefs defense that will be trying hard to stop the potent Niners attack tonight.
The Ron Dayne Loving Future Hawkeye Born in Madison: George Kittle
Kittle grew up a massive Badger fan, even sporting a Ron Dayne jersey as a kid while watching the Wisconsin legend run all over Iowa in 1999 to set the NCAA career rushing record.
While he was born in Madison, his parents later moved to Iowa City, where Kittle graduated from high school as a two-star recruit per 247 Sports with Iowa as his only power five offer. A tall, athletic TE for the Hawkeyes, Kittle parlayed his stint in Iowa City into a fifth-round selection by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2017 Draft.
While Kittle was an intriguing athlete, his four years of college production at Iowa were hardly earth-shattering—48 catches for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns across four seasons.
But, in the NFL, Kittle has been a different animal, becoming one of the most feared tight ends in the game to the tune of five Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections.
The Madison Kid Who Grew Up In Texas: Jake Brendel
A three-star recruit who played his high school ball in Plano, Texas, Brendel went undrafted as a second-team All-Pac-12 center out of UCLA in 2016.
He signed with the Cowboys as a free agent but never played there and bounced around the NFL as an afterthought for years until winning the starting gig for the Niners in 2022, leading to a four-year contract extension in 2023.
He’s started every game for San Francisco the last two seasons and, while he has no major professional awards or accolades, 34 consecutive starts for a Super Bowl team is fairly impressive and no doubt at least partially due to starting his journey in Madison as a baby.
The Brookfield Native: Mike Caliendo
Named first-team All-State playing for Brookfield East in 2015 (he took a visit to but was never offered by Wisconsin), Caliendo played both center and guard for Western Michigan, and made first-team All-MAC in both 2020 and 2021.
After going undrafted in 2022, the Chiefs signed him as a free agent and he has seen action in eight games in 2023 at guard for the Chiefs.
Wisconsin school district releases tape of Black superintendent’s comments that led to resignation
The Green Bay school district on Wednesday released the recording of its first Black superintendent’s appearance on an Atlanta radio show in which he made blunt comments about race relations, criticized the community and derided one of the district’s principals.
Claude Tiller Jr. resigned on Saturday after a closed-door meeting with school board members.
On the recording, he is caught during a break from speaking on air during a WAOK-AM radio interview on Feb. 6 referring to a female principal as a “wicked witch” and using a disparaging slang word to describe her. Tiller was in Atlanta on a teacher recruiting trip.
During one of the breaks, the show’s host refers to Green Bay as “about as lily white as I have ever seen.”
Tiller responds, “The lily on top of the lily.”
Green Bay, a city of about 100,000 people in northeastern Wisconsin, is about 72% white, according to U.S. Census data released in July 2023. People who identify as Black make up about 4.2% of the population.
The entire interview, including conversations Tiller had with the host during breaks, was livestreamed on Facebook. The host informed Tiller that his appearance would be streamed.
During the interview, Tiller was asked about his conversations with mostly white teachers.
“I’m a bald head man and I wear bow ties,” Tiller said. “So first all, they think that I’m a Muslim. They think I like to fix bean pies. And that’s furthest from the truth. So I have to go debunking some microaggressions before I even go into. They think majority of us we like fried chicken and watermelon. I prefer my chicken baked.” He added that, as “a bald head black man with a bow tie, they get my passion confused with anger.”
Tiller’s comments about bow ties and bean pies were a reference to the Nation of Islam, a Black nationalist movement with roots in Detroit whose male followers often wear distinctive red bowties. Followers also often consume and sell food made from navy beans, including pies, which are promoted as healthy.
Tiller didn’t respond to a phone message left by The Associated Press on Wednesday evening. In a statement he issued following his resignation, he said his remarks during the interview were “specifically directed toward the broader systemic issues within public education that contribute to ongoing challenges.”
He added that he offered his perspective “with candor, anchoring my narrative in both my professional insights and personal experiences as an educational leader of color.”
“Simply put, I spoke my truth.”
The school district board’s president, Laura McCoy, didn’t respond to a phone message on Wednesday evening. Board Vice President James Lyerly declined to comment, saying Tiller’s resignation was “a human resources matter.”
Tiller became superintendent in Green Bay in July. He had previously served as an assistant superintendent over high school transformation with the Detroit Public Schools Community District, according to a biography on the Green Bay school district’s website.
During one break he told the host that “mindset in Green Bay, Black and brown folks, it’s almost like stepping back in time. They don’t even realize it til I came along and I have people coming up to me crying saying ‘don’t leave’ because I’m giving voice to the voiceless.”
At another point during the interview, he said he applied for the job only at his wife’s urging, thinking that “no all white board is going to choose an African American male.”
Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody in Chicago contributed to this report.
Wisconsin AG among multi-state coalition aiming to uphold federal air regulations
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is joining 15 other Democratic attorneys general intervening in a case that challenges Clean Air Act regulations.
In November, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized changes on how states must meet clean air standards under the regulations. The updates govern state plans to limit air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
The final rule set timelines providing a framework for states to develop plans that set and enforce emission standards for existing power plants. Kaul said the rule would allow states to adopt more stringent standards for facilities than what’s required under federal law.
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In January, West Virginia and a group of other states challenged the regulations in a federal appeals court. They argue the EPA is going beyond its authority with the proposed changes.
Kaul is defending the EPA’s regulations.
“The changes that the states challenging these regulations are seeking would weaken efforts to limit air pollution,” Kaul said in a statement. “We must not take a step backward in protecting clean air and combating the climate crisis.”
The changes would also allow states more time to submit plans and update how states can engage with communities affected by power plants. The EPA plan also provides a process states can follow that allows facilities to meet less stringent standards based on their remaining useful life. Under that process, power plants may also receive more time to comply with the regulations.
The challenge comes after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2022 limited the EPA’s authority to issue regulations that would curb carbon emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act. The decision limited the agency’s ability to regulate pollution only at the facility through emission controls rather than considering other options, such as adopting clean energy projects.
Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2024, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.
Rapper Yung Gravy is coming to Wisconsin State Fair’s Main Stage with Nicky Youre
After being a Summerfest MVP in 2023, Yung Gravy has his sights set on the Wisconsin State Fair in 2024.
The tongue-in-cheek rapper and University of Wisconsin-Madison alum will headline the Main Stage on Aug. 3, fair officials announced Wednesday.
Gravy headlined Summerfest’s Generac Power Stage last year — and then filled in at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater for a free show on July 6, after AJR cancelled its show because the band members and brothers’ father was ailing (he died in early July). AJR had been booked to fill in for Jimmy Buffett, who was ill and died Sept. 1.
Nicky Youre, a pop newcomer who had a big hit with “Sunroof” in 2022, will open for Gravy.
Tickets, priced at $50 to $60, will include fair general admission Aug. 3, and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Members of Friends of the Fair will have presale access.
Gravy is the eighth Main Stage concert, out of 11, revealed for the fair 2024.
Tickets also go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday for Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias on Aug. 1, the fair’s opening day; Casting Crowns on Aug. 5; and Riley Green on Aug. 7.
Tickets also are available for Kidz Bop (Aug. 6), Lauren Daigle (Aug. 9), Foreigner with Melissa Etheridge (Aug. 10), and the Happy Together tour, led by the Turtles, on closing day (Aug. 11).
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