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Erik Kennedy and his Seahawks staff are equipped for anything that comes their way

Behind the scenes: Most of the players might have vacated the Seahawks’ locker room for the offseason, but that just allowed Erik Kennedy and his equipment staff to take over and get everything ready for their return.


The players cleared out their cubicles in the locker room last Tuesday; roughly 36 hours after the Seahawks came up a yard short in their quest to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

But the *cleaning *out of those cubicles in the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center continued on Thursday, as director of equipment Erik Kennedy and his staff are using the downtime between the abrupt and disappointing end of the 2014 season and the can't-get-here-soon-enough start of the 2015 offseason program to make sure everything is shipshape when the players return in April.

Their efforts are a buzz of activity at a time when things are pretty quiet in those areas the players consider home during the season. Kennedy's staff – assistant managers Drew Bley, Derin Lazuta and Chad Sensibaugh, as well as interns Ben Hulka, Brandon Sorkin, Nate Peterson, Drew Evans and Bo Rainwater – is literally cleaning the cubicles with a vacuum; making repairs where needed; and preparing shoulder pads for their offseason reconditioning.

"And we're still unpacking from the Super Bowl," Kennedy said of sorting through and storing the tons of equipment that was shipped to Phoenix so the team would have it during the week that ended in a 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium.

"It's not like we have a little bit of stuff here. There are massive amounts of gear and equipment and reconditioning."

Kennedy and his staff are among the unsung heroes in all the success the team has had in recent seasons. Unsung to a point that is, as coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson have referred to Kennedy as "the best in the business."

But the work of Kennedy and his staff definitely is behind-the-scenes stuff. A perfect example of that is what Lazuta was doing on Thursday.

"The pads will be sent to the manufacturer," Kennedy said. "They'll remove all the Velcro from them and then check them for cracks and parts, and then send them back."

That happens in early April, when the interns will begin replacing the Velcro.

"And that's just one small part of what we do," Kennedy said.

The cubicles also will be restocked with practice and game jerseys, as well as cleats and training shoes.

"And it's not like there are 10 guys and this is an easy process," Kennedy said. "We're probably talking about 80 guys, so it is an involved process."     

The equipment room is one side of what Kennedy calls the "trifecta." On the other side of the locker room is the training room and adjacent to the equipment room is the players' lounge and the office of Maurice Kelly, a safety with the Seahawks in 2000-01 who is now senior director of player development.

"You form a true friendship, a bond with everybody," Kennedy said. "It's like a big family."

Part of the offseason adjustment period for the equipment staff involves acclimating themselves to a "normal" schedule after only getting a handful days off over the past seven months.

"These guys work their tails off," said Kennedy, who began working in the Seahawks' equipment room while still a student at Redmond High School. "And then it's the longevity of the season, from the start of training camp to that final game."

The past two seasons, the final game has come in the Super Bowl. And four times in five seasons under Carroll, the Seahawks' season has included the postseason.

"It's obviously good when you win. That makes everything more fun," Kennedy said. "And really, when you get to playoff time, everybody is excited. It's a bonus time."

As well as a time when the whole football world is seeing the job that Kennedy and his staff do behind the scenes, as subliminal as it might be.

"As much as it means during the season, it means that much more during the next phase of the season, which is the playoffs," Kennedy said. "So you get a chance to show how good your team wants to look out there – from our side, a cosmetic side. We don't want the helmets flopping around. We want the jerseys to look good every week.

"We want to do the best thing not just for our owner (Paul Allen), but our executives. We want to show that we're doing a good job."

And that, of course, includes the chores that Kennedy and his staff are busy with right now.

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