Rams Walter Payton Man of the Year Andrew Whitworth Reflects on Playing Against His Former Team in the Super Bowl

The Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals have traveled different paths to the 2022 Super Bowl. LA built an all-star team en route to winning the NFC West. Cincinnati shocked the world by claiming the AFC North crown and taking down the best in the conference. However, the two teams share a connection — Andrew Whitworth.

Whitworth has strong ties to the Bengals organization, but he’ll be on the other side of the field at SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl 56. The Rams star offensive lineman’s career has come full circle, and this game could be the end to an incredible NFL career.

Andrew Whitworth started his career with the Bengals

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth in action for the Rams and Bengals
Andrew Whitworth of the Los Angeles Rams leaves field after game against the Vikings | Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Whitworth in action for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Steelers | George Gojkovich/Getty Images

It’s been quite the career for Andrew Whitworth. With Tom Brady retiring from the NFL, the LA Rams offensive tackle is the oldest active player in the league at 40 years old.

Before heading west, Whitworth spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals. The front office selected him with the No. 55 overall pick in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of LSU.

Whitworth developed into one of the league’s most consistent offensive linemen during his time in Cincinnati. The Monroe, Louisiana native started 164 games for the Bengals in his career and played a massive role in what the team was trying to build there.

The four-time Pro Bowler gave everything he had to the organization and left a lasting mark on many people. Whitworth still has great relationships with people in and around the Bengals locker room to this day. Surely, emotions will be running high when he takes the field for Super Bowl 56 as a member of the Rams.

The Rams left tackle reflects on facing his former team

Andrew Whitworth became an unrestricted free agent after the 2016 season when the Cincinnati Bengals opted not to re-sign the veteran left tackle. As a result, the LA Rams signed him to a three-year $36 million contract.

Despite the change of scenery, Whitworth has been just as good in LA. The two-time All-Pro selection cherishes the opportunity to get back to the Super Bowl after losing the big game in 2019. He also suggests it’s pretty cool to be facing his former team.

Whitworth recently joined The Rich Eisen Show to discuss the upcoming matchup against the Bengals.

“Couldn’t be happier to have it all happen like this,” he said. “To play Cincinnati, a place we care and love so much and have a lot of people there we believe in, what a cool story.”

Whitworth also noted that he developed a bond with Bengals and former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow in the 2020 season while both were rehabbing from their respective knee injuries.

“We’re sitting in my house watching NFL football games on a Sunday,” said Whitworth. “Both in crutches and knee braces. And now for us to be playing each other in the Super Bowl, it’s just been a wild year.”

While Whitworth and Burrow are new friends, they’ll be on opposite sides of the coin on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner has inspired the NFL

As Andrew Whitworth will tell you, it’s been a wild ride in the NFL. He’s enjoyed plenty of success playing football, but the LA Rams offensive lineman is leaving a lasting legacy off the field as well.

Whitworth took home the Walter Payton Man of the Year award at the NFL Honors ceremony, which took place just days before Super Bowl 56. The league honored him for his charitable endeavors over the years but especially in 2021.

The Rams star launched his Big Whit Homes for LA project to assist families in the local community with finding affordable housing. He pledged to donate $20,000 after each Rams home game. Whitworth also helped people in his home state of Louisiana who were affected by Hurricane Ida.

In his acceptance speech, Whitworth inspired the rest of the players in attendance to give back to the game and the community.

“You can invest your time, you can invest your finances, or you can invest your voice,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which. We just have to keep investing in each other. Let your heart lead you all the way.”

If the 2022 Super Bowl is Andrew Whitworth’s last game, he’s left his mark on the Rams, Bengals, and the NFL at large.

Bengals tight C.J. Uzomah sums up Whitworth’s impact perfectly.

“Seeing how much the community loves him, seeing how much people love him, it’s an honor,” Uzomah told The Athletic. “That’s what I aspire to be and do and that presence I want around the community, to help people out and be a really good football player on the field and use my platform, my influence in a positive way. Be a light for people. He is that.”

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

RELATED: Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr. Chose His Fate for the First Time in His Career, Changing the Narrative With an Unexpected Super Bowl Run