PHOENIX, Ariz. -The final day of player media availability for the Seahawks came prior to the team's "Turnover Thursday" practice, when cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett were two of 53-plus Seahawks to meet with the press.
Below, check out four things we learned from Thursday's sessions with Sherman and Bennett:
1. He Doesn't Think Student-Athletes Have Enough Time To Take Advantage Of Their Education
Sherman, a graduate of Stanford University, gave his most impassioned answer of the week when asked if he believes NCAA student-athletes are given enough time to take advantage of their scholarship education.
"I really appreciate that question." Sherman began. "No, I don't think college athletes are given enough time to really take advantage of the free education that they're given, and it's frustrating because a lot of people get upset with student-athletes and say they're not focused on school and they're not taking advantage of the opportunity they're given."
Sherman challenged a regular student to operate on a student-athlete's busy schedule, when team meetings, conditioning, and practice can take away from opportunities in the classroom. Sherman acknowledged that while many aspects of a student-athlete's education are taken care of, he still faced times at Stanford when he had a negative balance in his bank account, situations that forced him to chose between getting gas for his car or eating a meal that day.
"People think, 'Oh, you're on scholarship.' They pay for your room and board, they pay for your education, but to their knowledge, you're there to play football," said Sherman. "You're not on scholarship for school, and it sounds crazy when a student-athlete says that, but those are the things coaches tell them every day: 'You're not on scholarship for school.'
"Luckily, I was blessed to go to Stanford and a school that was primarily focused on academics, so it was a blessing. It was a little bit better. As [former Stanford head coach] Jim Harbaugh would attest, we were also there for football."
Sherman recalled a story of his former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck, who went No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft to the Indianapolis Colts. Luck majored in engineering, a rigorous field of study that Sherman said clashed with the quarterback's football commitments at times.
"What do you do?" Sherman said. "Do you switch your major or do you tell your coach, 'Hey, I've got an engineering class from 2 to 3:30 and I have to go to that.' That's a conflict of interest. That's what people don't realize. But it's not something that hurts the bottom line in a lot of people's lives, so I don't think it'll be something that will be addressed. But I appreciate the question."
2. He Thinks Tom Brady & Peyton Manning Are Both Incredibly Tough To Prepare For
The Seahawks' Super Bowl XLVIII victory came over future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. This season, Seattle is up against another future Hall of Famer in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
So, which signal caller is more difficult to prepare for?
"I think that's a tough question to answer, honestly, because they are both incredibly tough to prepare for and they both present different issues," said Sherman. "But they're also similar in the respect that they get the ball out fast and make great decisions. They are extremely accurate with the football. They rarely make mistakes. They have great supporting casts. The Patriots are very dynamic in their offensive approach and have great variety. So I'd say it's kind of a wash in that regard.
"I think if you're facing either one of them, you're in for a tough day."
1. LeGarrette Blount's Dreads Have Hang-Time, And That's Pretty Cool
Bennett played with Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount during their time together at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Seahawks defensive end was asked about how tough it will be to defend Blount this weekend after he racked up 146 yards and three touchdowns in New England's AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts.
"It's always a big challenge when you're playing against a running back with the talent of LeGarrette Blount," Bennett said. "I've known LeGarrette since I was in Tampa. We came into the league at the same time and he's been a great, powerful back that can do so many things."
But that's not all Bennett had to relay of his former teammate. He likes what he sees up top, too.
"I'm glad his dreads have got a lot longer because when he first came to Tampa his hair was really short," Bennett said. "But now he has hang-time on his dreads, so that's pretty cool."
2. He Knows Richard Sherman Is Facing A Hard Decision
Sherman and his girlfriend Ashley Moss are expecting the birth of their first son any day now. It's been a topic of national discussion of late, if the baby is born on Sunday, would Sherman miss Super Bowl XLIX to be with his family?
"Do you have kids? Do you know how important it is to your wife to be there for the kids?" Bennett questioned the media member who asked for his thoughts on Sherman's baby-on-board situation. "Well then, you understand and you answered your own question. I understand his mindset and I know his wife will tell him to just to come to the game after she has the baby because that's how wives' would want to do.
"They wouldn't want to put him in a bad situation, which is not really a bad situation to be there for your kid," Bennett continued. "I know the world would be on his back if he doesn't come to the game, but I think Sherm will make the right decision. I mean, it's only once in a lifetime you get to see your son born, but it's only once in a lifetime you get to be at the Super Bowl, so it's a hard decision.
Bennett said he was faced with a similar encounter in college at Texas A&M.
"I had a game and I ended up seeing my baby in the same day," he said. "But I ended up going to see my baby being born in the morning and got to the game at night, so it was a hard decision."