There’s a secret hidden away in a Cleveland suburb that leads to the New England Patriots.

The team will face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Super Bowl LI. It will be its seventh championship game for the franchise in the past 16 seasons, and a victory would give the Patriots five titles in that span. The reasons for New England’s dominance are numerous.

One is a group of employees who have something in common: a link in Northeast Ohio.

“You may not play for an NFL franchise if you come to John Carroll,” Dr. Andy Welki, associate professor of economics told USA TODAY Sports in a phone call, “but you might run one.”

New England has seven full-time football staffers who played football for the Blue Streaks and graduated: offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (Class of ’99); director of player personnel Nick Caserio (‘99); assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski (‘99); director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler (‘00); coaching assistant Nick Caley (‘06); pro scout Frank Ross (‘10); and scouting assistant D.J. Debick (‘12).

So how exactly does this Division III school in University Heights, Ohio – one whose total enrollment is only 3,673, plays in the Ohio Athletic Conference, and has a stadium that seats just 5,146 – have a direct pipeline into the NFL’s most prolific dynasty?

Don Shula (’51) started it. He was the school’s first alumnus to establish deep NFL roots.

Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian had two sons, Brian and Chris, attend John Carroll in the 1990s. Tom Telesco and Dave Caldwell played alongside the Polian brothers on the football team. And at every stop, Bill Polian brought along Telesco and Caldwell and helped launch their careers.

Telesco, now, is the general manager of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Caldwell holds the same title for the Jacksonville Jaguars.