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MISSOULA — Will Poehls missed the Super Bowl by a whisker, but the former Montana Griz football player did manage to land on "The Tonight Show."

Sort of, anyway. Host Jimmy Fallon spoofed the red-bearded giant in one of his monologues recently, suggesting the offensive lineman was "Most Likely to be the love child of Ron Weasley and Hagrid."

If you've never heard of Weasley and Hagrid, you're not alone. My younger co-workers tell me it's some sort of Harry Potter reference.

Potter is that guy with the round glasses and wand in the movies, not to be confused with Col. Potter of the M.A.S.H. 4077th. But I digress ...  

"I thought it was really funny," Poehls confided with a chuckle, acknowledging his 15 seconds of late-night TV fame. "I didn't see it live or anything but somebody posted it on Twitter and tagged me. It was like 6:30 in the morning when I saw it and I just busted out laughing. I just hope Jimmy Fallon can pronounce my name right one of these days."

Once and for all it's Poehls as in lunch pails. Which makes a lot of sense since Will is a lunch-pail kind of guy who has been a lot of places and finally knows what it's like to look at pro football's pinnacle — even if he didn't quite get there two weeks ago in Massachusetts.

"It was definitely a change from my previous couple years where we had won no more than three games," said Poehls, who had stints with the Titans, Bills and Bears before landing with the Jaguars. "It's frustrating to get so close but it was a crazy-cool experience, just to be able to go up to Foxboro and Pittsburgh and have your team play in their places and play well."

The difference between dynamic teams and duds is in the details, according to the 6-foot-8 Poehls. It also shows up in practices.

"When I first got to Jacksonville in September, the first practice was really hard," he recalled. "I was gassed. The guys were telling me, 'This is an easy practice.' I thought there's no way."

Poehls never made it into the starting lineup but he plans on making a splash next season. He's learned from top-notch coaches at Jacksonville the importance of keeping his body prepared for an extended season and always minding his technique.

"Your body starts to break down toward the end of the season and me not playing past the end of the regular season ever, it was a new experience for me for sure," he shared.

"I hit a little bit of a wall that week before we played New England. They talk about the rookie wall and I never hit it. I felt pretty sure I hit it this year."

A lot of players and teams hit the wall when they face New England QB Tom Brady in the playoffs. Now he's back in the Super Bowl yet again, a decided favorite to win against counterpart Nick Hope-He-Doesn't-Fold and the Eagles.

"You have the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady, you cannot deny that," Poehls said. "It's unfortunate when you lose to him but you really can't deny it.

"(The Patriots) have a game plan and if it doesn't work they have a backup game plan. Tom Brady is that good to be able to find the holes where there's not normally holes. He can read the defense before anything happens. That's why he doesn't get hit very much. You beat him by keeping him from throwing the ball really quickly."

Got that Philadelphia? Now get on it.

In the mean time, Griz fans, take a minute to feel good about the impact former Montana players are having on The League. We've got Brock Coyle starting at LB for the Niners and Tim Hauck coaching for the Eagles and all sorts of hungry types like Poehls that don't give up on dreams worth a darn.

"Blessed is the best term to use," Poehls said of his four-year stint in the NFL. "God blessed me with a family that loves me and a wife that's really supportive that moves everywhere across the country with me and still loves me no matter what.

"It's been incredibly awesome and I can't wait to see what else God has in store for me as I continue in this crazy life called the NFL."

Like most of us, Poehls will sit back and enjoy the Super Bowl Sunday night. He's a big fan of the commercials and hopes for a close game.

"We'll see what the GOAT can do I guess," he said, using the acronym Greatest Of All Time to refer to Brady.

Come on Eagles, get him. One time, baby.

Timmy Hauck needs a ring.

Email Bill Speltz at or follow him on Twitter at @billspeltz.


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