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Seahawks keeping their focus amid the Super distractions
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Business as usual. Business as usual? Business as usual!
That’s the way the Seahawks are attempting to handle this relocation process that has made New Jersey their home away from home this week as they prepare for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII matchup against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium.
With one notable – and noticeable – exception: There’s very little that’s usual about all of this.
The Seahawks are about to play in the Super Bowl. It’s been a fact since last Sunday, when Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s pass to Michael Crabtree in the south end zone at CenturyLink Field and Malcolm Smith intercepted the deflection to ice the 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
But last week, despite a few more media sessions in front of a few more media members, it was pretty much business as usual at Virginia Mason Athletic Center as the team used its bye week to install the game plan for the Broncos and even got in a couple of outdoor practice sessions along the shores of Lake Washington.
That changed Sunday, and it started early with the bus ride from VMAC to the airport. An estimated throng of 30,000 12th Man fans created a gauntlet that prompted the caravan of four buses to slow to a crawl. The throng of well-wishers included one fan holding a sign that provided a reminder of how the Seahawks got here: Just Another Business Trip.
Or not. While that has to be the mentality, it quickly became apparent once the team arrived at the Westin Jersey City that it also will have to be a mind-over-matter situation.
The media – and an XXXL-sized Big Apple slice of the ever-changing Fifth Estate, at that – was waiting and ready for coach Pete Carroll and a handful of his players.
They wanted to know how the Seahawks would cope with having no players on their roster with any Super Bowl experience. Carroll pointed out that Ricardo Lockette was at last year’s Super Bowl, but failed to mention that the track-fast wide receiver was on the 49ers’ practice squad.
“Ricardo Lockette has not made a presentation to the club yet,” Carroll cracked.
They wanted to know how a Seahawks defense that led the NFL in average points, yards and passing yards allowed as well as turnovers and interceptions during the regular season, and then held the New Orleans Saints to 15 points and the 49ers to 17 points in the playoffs, could possibly handle everything that Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense will throw at them?
While Carroll admitted the obvious, “It’s an extraordinary challenge.” He also added the bottom-line assessment, “They have to play us, too.”
They wanted to know this and that about that and this, dredging up storylines that have been told and retold in the Pacific Northwest but now are fresh fodder for reporters looking for a story – any story. Like how it was possible that Doug Baldwin went from being undrafted in 2011 to a wide receiver and kickoff returner who continues to make big plays for the Seahawks the bigger the stage gets.
“To be honest with you, I really don’t care right now,” Baldwin said when asked why he didn’t get drafted. When the question turned to what happened during his injury-plagued junior season at Stanford, Baldwin offered, “I mean, it’s well-documented. I don’t want to speak on it right now.”
They wanted Sherman, the only-at-times outspoken All-Pro cornerback, to be outrageous. They were disappointed, as the headline on the back page of Monday’s New York Daily News proclaimed: “The Mouth That Bored; Seahawks’ Sherman suddenly goes soft, gets Super Bowl week off to sorry start.”
That’s because Sherman was showing the side he displays most often, but also the one that doesn’t prompt national headlines and sound bites.
Just across the street from the hotel is the Hudson River, and just across the river is Manhattan – with all that it features.
“I’m going to make a few appearances and shake a few hands, certain things you have to do when you get in this position. But no, I’m not doing a lot extra,” Sherman said when asked if he plans to “go out.”
“I came here to play football. So, that’s what I’m focused on.”
Mind seems to be handling matter just fine, to this point.