Seahawks arrive for Super Bowl in unfamiliar role
Thanks to the Patriots’ deflated-football controversy, the in-your-face defending champions are the more lovable team in Phoenix.
Times staff columnist
PHOENIX – The Seahawks arrived in the desert Sunday as quietly as they’ll ever show up anywhere.
For a change, they’re not the team accompanied by noise. The New England Patriots and their magic deflating footballs are causing all the commotion. It puts the Seahawks in an unfamiliar position as the Super Bowl XLIX hype turns extreme.
The more lovable, huggable and root-able of the two teams?
The in-your-face, doubter-bashing, crotch-grabbing Seahawks?
It feels strange. The Seahawks have grown accustomed to being disregarded or disliked by those not dressed in blue and green. But now, because of the Patriots’ Deflate-gate controversy and the nation’s general hatred/jealousy of the NFL’s most dominant team the past 15 years, the Seahawks stand as America’s best hope.
They’re the best hope to keep New England from winning amid a cheating accusation. And they’re the best hope to signal the end of the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era.
If the deflation scandal weren’t dominating headlines, you could focus on the real story here: This Super Bowl could be a passing of the torch from the Patriots to the Seahawks as the league’s top dog, from Brady to Russell Wilson as the quarterback with the best knack for winning and from Belichick to Pete Carroll as the coach with the golden whistle. Or the game could send the message that the Patriots’ reign isn’t over.
That’s the story line that matters most to the Seahawks. Deflate-gate is just an opportunity for them to needle their opponent and the NFL.
The Seahawks made a quiet entrance compared with what New England will face upon arriving Monday. But they wouldn’t be the Seahawks if they didn’t do a little barking. Cornerback Richard Sherman made the strongest statement, declaring the Patriots won’t be punished because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is too close with New England owner Robert Kraft.
“I think the perception is the reality,” Sherman said when asked about the Patriots’ alleged cheating, as well as their history of bending the rules (Spygate, for instance). “I mean, it is what it is. Their résumé speaks for itself. Their past is what their past is. Their present is what their present is. And will they be punished? Probably not. Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. I think he was just at Kraft’s house last week before the AFC championship. You talk about conflict of interest. But, you know, as long as that happens, it won’t affect them at all. Nothing will stop them.”
The Seahawks could stop them. They’re the younger, faster and more-athletic team. They’re the reigning champions, but what they really want is to build a machine similar to what New England has been since 2000.
The controversies are part of the Patriots’ success story. Nevertheless, it’s foolish to discredit the longevity of their greatness. You’re not supposed to be this good, for this long, in the NFL. As much as detractors mock the Patriots for not having won a championship since the 2004 season, how about the fact that they’re still in the title picture all these years later? This is their sixth Super Bowl appearance of this era. And it would be remarkable if Brady wins another title, which would be his fourth, 10 years after his previous one. Windows rarely stay open like this in professional sports.
The Seahawks have the appropriate respect for the Patriots. They want to be the king for a while, too. They’re attempting to be the first repeat champion since New England did it in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. It’s only right that they would have to get past the Patriots to do so.
This is a Legacy Super Bowl for both teams.
The teams are too in the moment to harp on it. But it’s understood.
“I am too young to be thinking about legacy right now, but sometimes you don’t have to say anything because your work speaks for itself,” safety Earl Thomas said. “So we definitely have that on the table.”
If you think the Seahawks are happy just to get back here after that dramatic comeback in the NFC Championship Game, forget that notion, too. They’re still hungry.
“People say that we’re the defending champs, and I think that’s a lie,” left tackle Russell Okung said. “I think we are just in this pursuit and chasing a title as well, too. We’re still just as competitive and just as on edge to come after a win.”
The Patriots have rallied around a mantra: “Ignore the noise.” If it were the Seahawks, they’d be saying, “Embrace the noise.”
On Sunday, the Seahawks arrived at Super Bowl XLIX quietly, at least by their standards. And they’re already trying to turn up the volume.
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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