JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Sunday morning, they waved and honked from Seattle freeways. Entering the Sea-Tac airport area, they clogged the road and pounded on the team buses. By evening, after crossing the country, the Seahawks were cheered at Newark Liberty airport. Arrival at their Jersey City hotel inspired several dozen to show up with 12th Man flags and scream.
Then in the hotel press conference, coach Pete Carroll and half a dozen Seahawks players were inundated by at least twice as many media workers as descended upon the Denver Broncos a few hours earlier at their hotel.
It’s the kind of the adulation that might make a fella swoon. Carroll even showed up in a tie and a nice jacket, perhaps last seen at his introductory press conference in 2010. But that was about the only discordant note in the otherwise flawless liftoff of Seattle’s football team into celebrity orbit.
At the height the Seahawks are traveling, geographic boundaries become indistinct, like seeing North America from space without the political lines. It looks like they could own it all.
Then again, if the Seahawks lose Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday, descent back to earth is going to burn a bit.
But the loss won’t happen because of a lack of support.
“We had an extraordinary sendoff,” Carroll said after the bus ride from the Newark airport to this tony strip of suburb across from Manhattan. “The 12s were out there in full force. The bus could only go about two miles an hour because they had swarmed into the streets. They were pounding on the bus.
“It was extraordinarily fun for everybody to see. Very cool.”
They are such novices at this. By average age, they were the fourth youngest team in the NFL this year, and the second youngest to play in a Super Bowl.
Carroll, at 62 the league’s second-oldest coach, has never even been to a Super Bowl — as player, coach, fan, guest or media member.
“Never,” he said Friday. “I really had the thought a long time ago that I’m not going until we’re playing in it. Fortunately, we’re finally going.”
Does that Super Bowl experience mean anything? When it comes to managing the crush of media, it might. Carroll likened what was spread before him Sunday to big bowl games, but that gets there only part way. Not only is this the biggest annual hootenanny in North American sports, this time, for the first time, the Super Bowl is in the media capital of the world.
But judging by the first clash, the Seahawks neither freaked nor failed. Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, Max Unger and The Inevitable Richard Sherman all said the right things, laughed and the right times and shed the awkward questions.
Naturally, Sherman, who has ascended to pop culture Valhalla after his televised rant following the Seahawks’ win over the 49ers in the NFC Championship. was particularly adroit at the give-and-take.
Asked about the difference in playing experience, Sherman, facing a swarm of more than 100 pixel troopers, he said, “They have a little more experience in it than we do . . . but I’ve never seen experience play in the game.”
Carroll mentioned the asset that he thinks will carry the day.
“Even though we’re young I think they have a really mature perspective,” he said. “That’s what we’re relying on.”
Carroll has done a remarkable job in being consistent in word and deed, never letting the highs and lows of a season compromise the goal. They have managed distractions well.
“We’ve been preparing to be a championship team all season,” he said. “We don’t plan on that changing. We have a longstanding process to deal with each week.
There’s a lot happening — it’s a very exciting time for everyone. We have to stay focused on football.”
No one is better at focus than Wilson, who said he spent more than three hours on the flight study video of the Broncos defense.
“Keeping this game normal is just staying focused on your preparation,” he said. “Making sure you’re getting tons of sleep. Making sure that you’re eating well, making sure you’re watching all the same things and going through your check list.
“We’re not going to shy away from it. I’ve always been told don’t be afraid to excel.”
Carroll was quick to make a correction in his media manners. He was called out by a local councilman for saying he’s happy to be back in New York when he was standing in New Jersey. But before his questioner could finish, Carroll interrupted.
“I know what you’re saying — I know,” he said, smiling.
Twenty years ago this month, Carroll was fired by the New York Jets after a single season as head coach. He remains dismayed to this day about it. That hoary “local angle” on Carroll will be wrung out this week, but he can blow it away with a win Sunday.
Then he’ll own both sides of the river, as well as the football world.
The thing that strikes me between the 05 squad and this years team? In 05 they seemed caught up on the “gee golly whiz” this is the very 1st SuperBowl this franchise has made it to~isn’t this grand?
This years team has a sense of belonging attached to the experience. A more nobel demeanor if you will. To no ones surprise we are here. We were preseason favorites on a lot of folks radar for a reason~its because we are deserving.
This team is not going to be overwhelmed over anything. It appears they will be much more prepared to handle all that comes with being in the big show and I don’t believe there is an iota of doubt resonating from the brainwaves of any Seahawk from the players all of the way down to the equipment manager and cooks. Expect great things and dreams can come true. This club is poised~probably far beyond what their youth should allow.
In my opinion the talent in the NFC is a cut above what Peyton played against in the AFC ~it was a brawl for Seattle in the play offs but we are the best the NFC has to offer. That Seattle is a underdog in Vegas is laughable.
Someone give that ground hog a hawk jersey to wear on Feb 2nd. We are going to roll that day. An early spring and Seattle as SB champs~has a nice ring to it.
Can’t wait to see how the current Hawks are taken by the media. So far it’s been fairly mixed but East Coast media has never had much of an opportunity to interact with the team. I think as the week goes on they’ll appreciate them, players and coaches, more and more as most of them are always gracious with the media except for Marshawn. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues his mimimalist approach with the media this week.
Maybe a generation from now we will look back on this feb fondly and say now I’m going to party like its 2014 again. The Year the Seahawks rode into Jersey and seized the moment to become NFL champions.
And by the way can we get a big “Hell Yah”! that we wont be subjected to Jim Harbaughs over the top emotions for this years Superbowl?(In fact Harbaugh free). Although the Nat’l media will probably also make fun of Pete’s rah rah~ run up and down the sidelines fist pumping everything demeanor too. To me its refreshing but i have been a Seahawk fan since I was a teen so Pete cant do any wrong with me.
God Bless Paul Allen and his vision when he abruptly cut ties with Mora and brought Pete and John on board. At the time I didn’t understand it. Now I applaud it.
Go out and get this one Seattle. Bring a world championship home to the Emerald City.