Sony Michel is used to shining under the brightest lights.
In Georgia, it was an overtime game-winning touchdown in the Rose Bowl to send the Bulldogs to the national championship in the 2017-18 season. Fast forward a week, and Michel would end his UGA career with a loss to Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, but left as the Bulldogs’ third-best runner of all time. .
A few months later, Michel, a Florida-born star of Haitian descent, heard his name called with the 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
A nagging knee injury in pre-season and a slow start quickly sparked criticism of Michel’s ability. He regained his health and quickly silenced his doubters, rushing for 931 yards and six touchdowns in the regular season in his rookie year.
When the playoffs rolled around, Michel made history by scoring an NFL playoff-record six touchdowns while rushing for 336 yards.
Super Bowl LIII was held in none other than Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where Michel had suffered a heartbreaking loss a year prior. Of course, the Patriots would win this game, beating Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. Michel rushed for 94 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown.
Michel spent three seasons with the Patriots, racking up 535 attempts for 2,292 yards with 14 touchdowns and 258 additional yards and 26 receptions through the air. He was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams — the team he beat in the Super Bowl a few years prior — this past offseason for a few late-round draft picks.
Michel spent much of the 2021 season splitting runs with Darrell Henderson, but found himself as the Rams primary in December as Henderson dealt with injuries and Covid. Michel led the NFL in rushing in December with 423 yards and another proved his doubters, this time the New England Patriots, wrong.
Now Michel, joined by fellow Bulldogs Matthew Stafford and Leonard Floyd, has the opportunity to bring a Super Bowl to the Rams organization for the first time since 1999.
Michel and the Rams have another tough job this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, a team that has done a good job of limiting the former Georgia running back in two games this season.
For Michel, his mission is to win his second Super Bowl in only his fourth season in the NFL. But as he noted, it’s not just for him, but for his family.
Migrants from Haiti, Jean and Marie Michel met in Florida in 1991, where they had Sony and her older brother Marken after leaving their daughter Lamise behind in Haiti. Michel’s mother came to the United States on a ferry with 13 other people when she was 23 years old.
“When I walk on this pitch, this Michel on my back is not just for me. It’s bigger than me. It’s my family.