Seahawks amazed by Super Bowl send-off
The reception the players received on their way to Sea-Tac airport was overwhelming, but the media obligations in Phoenix were kept largely in stride, with the Seahawks understanding what to expect at the most-hyped sporting event in the country.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PHOENIX — From cheering throngs of fans to inquiring masses of media.
That was the experience for the Seahawks on Sunday as they left Seattle in the morning for Super Bowl XLIX, where the first thing coach Pete Carroll and six of the team’s key players did upon arriving was meet with reporters at the team’s hotel in Tempe, Ariz.
If the reception they received on their way to Sea-Tac airport was overwhelming, the media obligations were kept largely in stride, with the Seahawks now understanding what to expect at the most-hyped sporting event in the country.
Asked what he knew now about the Super Bowl that he didn’t know a year ago, left tackle Russell Okung smiled and said, “I learned that you guys have a lot of questions.’’
The Seahawks, though, understand the attention is a small price to pay for the rewards of making a repeat trip to the Super Bowl.
One of those was witnessing the thousands of Seahawk fans lined a mile-long stretch of road in SeaTac on Sunday morning to cheer on the team as it headed for the airport.
The Seahawks, in a caravan of several cars and chartered buses with tinted windows, rolled slowly by the intersection of South 188th Street and 42nd Avenue in SeaTac at about 10 a.m., led by police on motorcycles.
“It’s amazing what they do,’’ Okung said of the fans who lined the streets. “And how early they can do it, too.’’
Said defensive lineman Michael Bennett: “It was like instead of having the game in the stadium it was in the street today. It was over 60,000 people, maybe even more, all over the place. Kids were throwing Skittles at the bus. They had all kind of stuff going on.”
Or, as safety Earl Thomas put it: “It was nothing but love.’’
The Seahawks got a similar, if much smaller, greeting in Arizona as Seattle fans manned the streets on the route to the hotel here.
The reception the Seahawks received from the media, meanwhile, was more tempered than a year ago in New York.
Then, the Seahawks were fresh off Richard Sherman’s rant with sideline reporter Erin Andrews after the NFC Championship Game win over San Francisco.
On Sunday, instead of talking about any of their own controversies, the Seahawks were more often asked about New England’s deflated-football controversy and the speech Saturday by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots don’t arrive until Monday, leaving the Seahawks as the focus of all attention here.
Other than Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wondering about a conflict of interest with New England owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hanging out socially, the Seahawks largely shrugged off “Deflate-gate.”
Bennett said he was watching “Dora the Explorer” with his three daughters during Belichick’s news conference.
“I think it’s all propaganda, just to get a chance to build the game up,’’ Bennett said. “It’s all inflating the game right now. It’s like just to make it even more worth it than what it’s really about. It’s really just about us, two great teams, playing. I think a lot of people are shying away from that aspect of it. They have the Patriots, who are arguably one of the best teams of this decade, and we’re starting to try to catch up to where they’re at and what they’ve done in the last 10 years. Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches of all time. I think people are forgetting that. The coaches going and the players playing, it’s too much about the balls. Hopefully everybody starts to talk about the game again.”
It’s a game, Bennett said the Seahawks learned a year ago, that doesn’t need to be made bigger than it is.
“Last year, you thought it was going to feel different because you’re in the Super Bowl,’’ he said. “But honestly, it was just like an exhibition game. The fans were the same. The game was playing, and it ultimately comes down to just playing football.”
What the Seahawks also learned, they said, was an approach that worked. As they did last year, the Seahawks installed most of their game plan during practices in Seattle last week and will spend their time here honing and refining it.
Bennett said the Seahawks also figured out how to deal with the Super Bowl off the field, saying last year most players hit the town just once, a low-key approach he hinted they’ll follow again.
“Other than that we just stayed in and rested the whole week,’’ he said. “We understood that you have all offseason to party and do all those things. You can go to Vegas any time you want if you win a Super Bowl. And you probably can go for free.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com. Seattle Times staff reporter Leah Todd contributed to this story.