The 103rd NFL season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 8, and two Penn alums and former Penn football stars will be suiting up for their respective franchises.
Greg Van Roten, a 2012 alumnus, plays guard for the Buffalo Bills, who will take on the reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams on Thursday in Los Angeles.
From Mineola, New York, Van Roten signed with the Bills in June after spending the last two seasons with the New York Jets. He played in all 17 games for the Jets in 2021 and started 10. Entering his eighth NFL season, he has started 50 of 77 games and two playoff games. Undrafted out of Penn, Van Roten began his career with the Green Bay Packers. He later played in the CFL before signing with the Carolina Panthers and Jets.
After spending the previous four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who selected him in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL Draft, wide receiver Justin Watson, a 2018 alumnus, is now a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, who he signed with in February. Watson, from Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, has 23 catches for 258 yards, and two touchdowns in his four NFL seasons, and has also been a key contributor on special teams. The Chiefs open their season on Sunday, Sept. 11, against the Arizona Cardinals in Arizona.
The Bills and Chiefs will face each other on Oct. 16 at the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium. Pundits are also predicting that the two teams could face each other in the playoffs, as they did last season. The Chiefs won last season’s playoff game—a classic—42-36 in overtime.