Greek-born George Karlaftis won his second Super Bowl in as many seasons as a defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs who beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 on Sunday.
The win cements the Chiefs’ legacy as the NFL’s next great dynasty, becoming the first back-to-back NFL champions in 19 years and winning its third ring under head coach Andy Reid.
— NFL (@NFL) February 12, 2024
Karlaftis’ impact was felt immediately, recovering a Christian McCaffrey fumble to end San Francisco’s first drive. He also had a key fumble recovery in the Chiefs’ 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game two weeks prior.
Chiefs force the fumble and firmly grasp the recovery 👀
— NFL (@NFL) February 11, 2024
Karlaftis had five tackles, including half a sack in Kansas City’s 25-22 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium Sunday night.
2 QB Pressures LATE in the game!
George Karlaftis and the Kansas City Chiefs are BACK to BACK Super Bowl Champions of the NFL!!!
Chiefs Kingdom’s Greek Warrior 🔥🇬🇷 pic.twitter.com/WDwdyvhDoM
— Super Greek 2.0 (@TheSuperGreek2) February 12, 2024
The former West Lafayette High School and Purdue football standout, he opted to enter the NFL draft and was drafted in the first round in 2022 with the 30th overall pick by Kansas City.
Karlaftis has started 33 regular season games in his first two seasons and has 16.5 career sacks in addition to two Super Bowl wins.
He is 6’4″ and weighs 263lbs. He is indeed huge compared to most humans, but perhaps his abnormality in American football is that he may be a bit undersized. Some questioned if he could compete among the many strong players of the NFL. It turns out observers find him relentless.
From Alex Karras to George Karlaftis?
Very few Greek-Americans have distinguished themselves in American football. However, one is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who also played on the defensive line. Alex Karras played for the Detroit Lions. Karras, much like Karlaftis, was raised in Indiana. Both lost their fathers when they were young teenagers. Karras’ father happened to be named George.
The Lion of Greek origin was an all-star while playing football in the 1960s. However, most middle-aged or older Americans remember Karras as an actor. He played a famous if understated role. He was the adopted father of a young African-American son played by Emmanuel Lewis in the 1980s television program Webster.
Karras’ character was named George Papadapolis. Many American children, who were Webster’s friends on the show and who watched at home, chuckled. It was difficult for them to pronounce Mr. Papadapolis’ name.
George Karlaftis is a potential role model for young fans to identify with. How many will come to know his name?
Star of Kansas City Chiefs after Overcoming Family Tragedy
George Karlaftis’ father, Matt, a javelin thrower, was a star in track and field at the University of Miami. His father, while attending graduate school, met his mother Amy at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue has an unsung relationship with Greece and Greek-Americans.
George’s parents returned to Athens where his father became a professor. The family had four children. Everything changed, however, when their father died of a heart attack while traveling for work at age forty-four. Within days, their mother, Amy, moved the children back to Indiana, where she had more support.
It was in Indiana that George, who played many sports in Greece, fell in love with American football.