Tammy and Carl Allegretti boarded a plane Monday to come back to Illinois. After the best trip ever.
On Sunday, the Allegrettis lived every parents’ dream: watching their son, Nick, win the Super Bowl.
Allegretti, a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft, played on special teams during Kansas City’s 31-20 comeback victory against San Francisco at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
“People play their whole life in the NFL and don’t play in the Super Bowl,” Carl Allegretti said. “Joe Thomas, first ballot Hall of Famer, never played in the playoffs. First year, Nicky’s in the Super Bowl and wins.”
Of course, Nick’s parents were in south Florida. Along with his brother, Joey, and Joey’s wife, Eugenia, Nick’s girlfriend, Christina Chillon, and her dad.
A year ago, Carl Allegretti bought six tickets for the game. With the idea of taking a winter vacation in Miami. Good thinking.
“We had a great time,” Carl Allegretti said. “How could you not have a good time?”
The seats were up high, allowing the Allegrettis to see the play better.
“Most of my seats were always at press box level,” Carl Allegretti said. “If you’re down low, you really can’t see the plays develop.”
After the game, the Allegrettis went to the Chiefs’ party at the JW Marriott Turnberry in Aventura, Fla.
“A very classy affair,” Carl Allegretti said. “Everybody was having a good time. But nothing was out of control.”
How was Nick feeling after the game?
“It was surreal,” Carl said. “He couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Next up for Nick and the Chiefs is Wednesday’s victory parade in Kansas City, Mo. Former Illini receiver Mikey Dudek and quarterback Chayce Crouch plan to be there. Along with many of Nick’s other friends.
“He’s been going hard ever since he got done with Illinois,” Carl said. “He needs some time off. A well-deserved break.”
Carl and Tammy went to most of their son’s games during his rookie season. That’s 19 trips, often far away.
Nick’s journey to Super Bowl champion sounds made up.
In five years at Illinois, he never played on a winning team. He had three head coaches, playing for Tim Beckman, then Bill Cubit and finally Lovie Smith.
“He loves Illinois.” Carl said. “It wasn’t the best of times down there, but you saw him at the end. He always did the right thing. And I think, by always doing the right thing and building character, it carried over into the NFL. It’s worked out pretty well there.”
The future looks bright for 23-year-old Nick with the Chiefs.
“I think they like him,” Carl said. “It’s a tough business. He’ll have to get after it and work. You have to earn your stripes every week in the NFL.”
One of the top seven linemen his first season, he is part of an organization that is built to last under coach Andy Reid. MVP Patrick Mahomes is now the face of the NFL and has the look of a younger, faster Tom Brady.
“Nicky is playing for a Hall of Fame coach,” Carl Allegretti said. “Look at that locker room. Most likely Patrick Mahomes is on the Hall of Fame trajectory. (Tight end) Travis Kelce is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. And (defensive end) Terrell Suggs is going into the Hall of Fame.”
Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz has shown Nick the NFL ropes.
“I could not imagine a better situation for him,” Carl said.
Allegretti has all sorts of perks coming for winning the Super Bowl. He will receive a championship ring. And a big check worth $124,000 that goes to each member of the winning team.
Good thing Nick was a business major at Illinois. There likely won’t be a spending spree.
“He’s a smart kid, and I think he’s living a very conservative life and taking it all in,” Carl said. “If Nicky indulges in anything, he’s going to buy some coins (he is an avid collector). But that’s all an investment to him.
“He hasn’t changed at all.”
Taking it in
Of course, Smith watched the Super Bowl. Start to finish.
“I know how hard it is to get there,” the Illinois coach said. “I know it’s really hard to win it.”
Smith exchanged texts with Allegretti on Monday.
“He’s been on a natural high,” Smith said. “I’m so pumped up for him.”
Allegretti followed former Illini Ted Karras in the Super Bowl. Karras played in three for the Patriots.
It’s a big deal to Smith to see Allegretti and Karras reach the top of the sport.
“For our players inside, they are all excited for them,” Smith said. “It makes them work harder, too. It’s not Nick was a high draft pick. He’s had to earn every little piece that he’s got.”
Bob Asmussen can be reached at 217-351-5233 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.