Updated Mar 10, 2014 - 4:20 pm
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Sunday, February 2, 2014 @ 8:46pm
By Danny O'Neil
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Seahawks could have won the Super Bowl without their offense taking a single snap.
After a week of the country asking whether the Seattle defense was ready for the Broncos' top-ranked offense, well, Seattle's defense went and outscored the Broncos all by itself: 9-8.
Malcolm Smith returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble to earn Super Bowl MVP honors. (AP)
As far as conclusions go, that was pretty fitting, and that's not to diminish the contributions of Seattle's offense, whether it's the diminutive quarterback or the dominating running back.
But this was a team built upon the bedrock of this defense, a unit that didn't allow a single one of the final eight opponents to score so much as 20 points and on Sunday went and silenced Peyton Manning to finish a season in which he threw more touchdown passes than anyone in NFL history.
How did the Seahawks do it? By being themselves.
Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator: "We didn't want to change how we play."
Safety Earl Thomas: "We stayed to our guns," safety Earl Thomas said.
Cornerback Walter Thurmond: "We don't get caught up on who our opponent is. At the end of the day, they have to deal with us."
And Denver couldn't deal with Seattle. Not even close.
The Broncos had scored in the first quarter in all but three games they had played in the regular season and the postseason. They didn't have a first down in the opening period.
This wasn't just about the safety that Denver allowed on the first play from scrimmage when center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Manning's shoulder and into the end zone. That was a fluke. It's what followed for the next 63 plays that proved to be a fulfillment of everything that Seattle's defensive-minded coach could have wanted.
"It was exactly the way we wanted it," coach Pete Carroll said.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Highlights | Interviews||• O'Neil: What we learned from Seahawks' win||• O'Neil: Seahawks' Super Bowl MVP? Take your pick||• Huard: Breaking down the fly sweep in ‘Chalk Talk'||• Henderson: Title extra sweet for Harvin, receivers||• Henderson: Russell Wilson makes history in victory||• Henderson: Malcom Smith takes MVP honors|
Denver couldn't run first because the Seahawks' pass-rush package was capable of squelching Knowshon Moreno, and later because the Broncos trailed by too many points.
And when Manning was forced to pass, it played right into the strength of Seattle's defense.
The Seahawks forced four turnovers, three from Manning. Combine that with the five passes Seattle picked off from Peyton's younger brother Eli and it means that in the eight quarters of football the Seahawks played at Met Life Stadium this season, they averaged a turnover a quarter from the Manning family.
Look at the players responsible for those turnovers. Kam Chancellor recorded the first interception. He was a fifth-round pick. It was Malcolm Smith, who returned the second interception 69 yards for a touchdown, breaking the game open. Smith was a seventh-round selection.
Then there was sixth-round choice Byron Maxwell perfectly punching the ball out from receiver Demaryius Thomas before the final turnover came on a forced fumble by defensive end Chris Clemons and recovered by Clinton McDonald, who was cut entering the first week of the season.
Yet somehow that defense built from so many overlooked and underestimated players turned in a performance that was completely and totally overwhelming.
And when it was over and Red Bryant stood on a field full of confetti, a cap proclaiming the Seahawks world champions on his head, the captain of this defense could say that he truly wasn't surprised at just what had happened.
"I knew we were going to do it," Bryant said. "I knew when we woke up this morning we were going to win. I knew we were going to continue to do what we've been doing all year. That's silence the critics.
"Can't nobody say we ain't the best. Can't nobody say that this wasn't one of the best defenses to ever do it."
Friday, January 31, 2014 @ 1:41pm
By Danny O'Neil
NEW YORK – Taking a closer look at two key players in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and Broncos tight end Julius Thomas:
Kam Chancellor's vitals
•Position: Strong safety/Designated hitter
•Experience: Fourth year
Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor has earned the nickname Bam Bam on account of his hard-hitting style. (AP)
He went to college as a quarterback if you can believe that, the position he played in high school, only to switch to defense before his second season and wound up playing safety in spite – not because of – his size.
Chancellor is big enough that there's always background chatter about his possibilities as a linebacker, but it's mostly his speed on the field and velocity of his hits that makes him a game-changer.
Seattle drafted him in the fifth round out of Virginia Tech, and after being a special-teams mainstay his rookie year, he became the team's starting strong safety in 2011, making the Pro Bowl after picking off four passes.
Even then, some wondered if he was going to be one of those players who was a key contributor, but ultimately proved too expensive to re-sign given the breadth of Seattle's young and talented nucleus. Seattle re-signed him to an extension last offseason, showing that the player nicknamed Bam Bam is part of the bedrock of this defense.
The description for Chancellor's role in Seattle's defense would call for the strong and silent type. Very strong. It's only fitting, then, that he once took Seahawks legend Kenny Easley's daughter to a high-school dance. In terms of playing style, Chancellor is known for the kind of punishing hits Easley was known for.
Question: Has playing physical always come natural to you?
Chancellor: "Always. It has always been a part of my game. I've always been a physical player, and I just love that part of the game. I love being a physical presence on that field, and I love having that impact and being an enforcer."
Question: How much pride do you take in Richard Sherman calling you the enforcer of the Legion of Boom?
Chancellor: "A whole lot, man. I love being called the enforcer, and I love the respect from my teammates and the LOB. Since Day One, I always been a guy who has been physical. Always been a guy who brings the boom to the group. And they always looked at me as that guy. They looked at me as a big brother. Every chance I get I try to go out there and lay the boom for these guys. I play for my brothers, and we emphasize that all the time."
Julius Thomas' vitals
•Position: Tight end/Post-up specialist
•Experience: Third season
Broncos tight end Julius Thomas caught just one pass in his first two NFL seasons, but he had 65 receptions for 788 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. (AP)
Who says Ken Bone can't put a player in the pros. Yeah, that's right. Thomas played for Bone at Portland State. He played basketball for four years before giving football one season as a redshirt senior.
Then he followed in the path of such previous transition-game successes as Antonio Gates in San Diego and Jimmy Graham in New Orleans in going from the hardwood to the hard hits of football.
Drafted in the fifth round, Thomas appeared in nine games and caught all of one pass his first two seasons combined. This season, he caught 65 passes for 788 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
Seattle has had success against top receiving tight ends this season, most notably the Saints' Graham in two meetings. The difference is Denver has three other receivers who have caught 10 or more touchdown passes this season, meaning it will be tough to focus too much on Thomas.
Q: Will Denver be able to have success considering how well Seattle stopped Graham and then San Francisco's Vernon Davis?
Thomas: "They've done a great job against two great tight ends. They were both Pro Bowl tight ends, but we'll say it the same way we have all season: If a team wants to focus on taking one guy, we have so many weapons that can go out there and make big plays. At times, it may be me that's not having the most production in a quarter, but if you watch our season, all it takes is one quarter or one drive and you're like, 'That guy's going. He's here.' "
Q: What does Seattle do to take away opposing tight ends?
Thomas: "They play fast. I've been saying it all week. They're a bunch of guys that enjoy playing football and they enjoy playing with each other. You put the tape on and you see guys flying around making plays, encouraging each other, and I think they feed off each other. It helps them play with a tremendous amount of energy."
Friday, January 31, 2014 @ 8:02am
By Danny O'Neil
NEW YORK – It took Seattle 30 seasons to play for its first Super Bowl.
And after an XL-sized disappointment in Detroit in February 2006, it took the Seahawks eight seasons, two coaching changes and a complete overhaul to get back to their sport's biggest stage.
It wasn't easy, and it certainly didn't happen overnight, but after tallying nearly 150 roster moves in Pete Carroll's first year as head coach, it's possible now to look back and lay out in chronological order the five biggest risks Seattle took en route to reaching this moment:
1. Hiring Pete Carroll as coach and vice president of football operations | Jan. 11, 2010
The Seahawks had a coach when they reached a crossroads at the end of the 2009 season. The team had won nine games the previous two seasons – four of them against the Rams – and endured a transition from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora that was not necessarily unpleasant but certainly awkward.
The Seahawks could have kept Mora. There was a financial incentive to do so given the fact he had three years remaining on his contract. There was a human component to that, too. Mora was coaching in his hometown. He had passed on job opportunities with Washington – both the NFL team and the university – to get that chance, only to be given a Tim Ruskell-assembled roster that was clearly inadequate.
Owner Paul Allen opted for a more extreme remedy – resetting all systems instead of rebooting. And he went out and hired a coach who was historically successful in nine seasons at USC but who had a record of 33-31 as an NFL coach and as many NFL playoff victories as Mora: one.
2. Parting ways with Matt Hasselbeck | July 29, 2011
Matt Hasselbeck was the franchise's most successful quarterback when he and the Seahawks parted ways in 2011. (AP)
"He had a lot of angst because he knew he was going to have to be the guy who told Brett it was time to move on," Schneider said of Ted Thompson. "I felt that with Matt when I got here. Just because I was here when we acquired him the first time so I knew we were going to be going in a different direction at some point."
It wasn't a foregone conclusion that was going to be in 2011. The Seahawks tried to re-sign Hasselbeck, offering to guarantee to the first year and portion of the second season in the contract. The Seahawks put an expiration date on the offer at the end of February, saying that if it wasn't accepted by the time of the league lockout everyone was expecting, then it might never be back on the table.
It wasn't, Seattle choosing to sign Tarvaris Jackson and usher in a new era at quarterback.
3. Drafting Russell Wilson in the third round, No. 75 overall | April 27, 2012
No one in the Seahawks' draft room was opposed to the decision to select Wilson. However, Schneider was the only one who wanted to pick him in the third round.
Good thing the Seahawks did. The Eagles were planning to choose Wilson later that round – with the very next pick, in fact – seeing him as a ready-made backup for Michael Vick.
Instead, Seattle landed the quarterback who was exactly 4 inches from being a sure-fire first-round pick. Two years later, Carroll was able to joke that Seattle should have chosen Wilson sooner in the draft. No one else in the league is laughing.
4. Naming Russell Wilson the starter | Aug. 26, 2012
Matt Flynn's arm was sore and Wilson's exhibition-game performance was incredible, so by the time the rookie was named Seattle's starter it wasn't quite unbelievable.
Seattle chose to start Russell Wilson at the beginning of his rookie season instead of letting him learn as a backup to free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn. (AP)
That has never been the route these Seahawks have traveled. Not under Carroll and Schneider, and after signing veterans like Charlie Whitehurst, then Jackson and finally Flynn, the Seahawks found their starting quarterback in an undersized rookie with oversized ambitions.
Has the experience changed the way Schneider evaluates quarterbacks?
"Since we got here, I think there's lessons to be learned about how you acquire the player," Schneider said. "But not like the skill set and the way he plays."
5. Acquiring Percy Harvin | March 12, 2013
It's too soon to evaluate the single-biggest personnel risk Seattle has taken over the past four years. Not just in terms of the money the Seahawks paid Harvin in a new contract, but the three picks they gave up for the privilege of paying him that contract, including last year's first-round selection.
Harvin was injured this season, sidelined first by a hip injury that required surgery and then by a concussion. It wasn't the start that anyone envisioned for his Seahawks career, but it's also not the final judgment. He was a player acquired not to put the team over the top, but the manner in which Seattle had constructed the rest of this team offered the flexibility – financially and in terms of draft picks – to make its most aggressive move. Instead of using the No. 25 pick on a player unlikely to be a starter right away, the Seahawks landed someone who in their eyes is one of the 10 best offensive players in the league, quarterbacks excluded.
He played six quarters in Seattle's first 18 games for a total of 33 snaps, yet here he is at the Super Bowl with five more years left on what was a long-term investment.
"I feel bad for him, the way that this has gone," Schneider said. "I'm sure it's been tough for him. I'm very happy for him now. I think this is incredibly exciting for Percy and his family and his teammates and the staff and our fans that he has an opportunity to play in the biggest game of the year.
"But I feel bad for him that this has gone the way it's gone. But the best thing about it is that it's a six-year contract and he's a young man."
Friday, January 31, 2014 @ 7:02am
By Danny O'Neil
NEW YORK – The stage was literal on Friday morning, the two Super Bowl coaches seated on director's chairs at the Rose Theater at 60th and Broadway.
Pete Carroll and John Fox, two men now fully grey, whose coaching roots extended back into the secondary yet who lead two teams that are defined by their differences. The Broncos and their league-best offense against the Seahawks and their league-leading defense.
"There's only going to be one happy camper at the end," John Fox said as he and Pete Carroll met with the media Friday for the final time before Super Bowl XLVIII. (AP)
"Can I just say, what a stud," Carroll said. "He's comparing open-heart surgery to an ankle sprain."
But the biggest question comes down to what is being billed as a classic matchup between the Broncos and their record-setting offense and the Seahawks defense that has allowed the fewest points in the league in each of the past two years.
"At the end of the day, this is a team game," Fox said. "In my mind, there's three phases of the game."
In fact, each coach was asked what he admired most about the opponent. Fox cited Seattle's defense, the length and speed and especially the secondary, which he called the best in the league. Carroll was more specific.
"We'd like to have their points," he said. "How many did you score, about 800?"
Nope, "only" 606.
"If we had those points, our defense could play pretty well," Carroll said. "That would help us."
Cue the laugh track for one final press conference as the two coaches sat together on either side of the trophy that their teams will play for.
"It's the pinnacle for probably everybody that does what we do," Fox said. "Something that you work very hard – as Pete mentioned earlier – you take individuals and you try to paint a picture of where you want to get to. And I think this is the pinnacle.
"Like all different levels of football, there's only going to be one happy camper at the end. That's going to be the team hoisting that trophy."
The Seahawks practiced at the Giants' facility in East Rutherford, N.J. this week, opening the doors and turning the temperature down to 32 degrees to try and acclimate to the conditions expected for Sunday's Super Bowl while the Broncos worked out at the Jets' complex in Florham Park.
And on Sunday, the game will be decided as a pair of former defensive-back coaches compete to see who'll stop the other team's passing game.
"It is an offensive era that we're in, it seems," Carroll said. "With all the passing game, it has gone crazy. Maybe it's fitting. We've been fighting our whole life to try and slow the thing down and now we get to do it on a big stage."
Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ 3:44pm
The prognostication game has been a difficult one as the Seahawks and Broncos have neared Sunday's Super Bowl.
Analysts have known to flip-flop on their picks this week, and it's with good reason – with the No. 1 offense of Denver against the No. 1 defense of Seattle, there are all kinds of subplots that point to one team or the other having the advantage.
To help sort it all out, 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" called in a pair of Super Bowl-experienced experts to give it a closer look Thursday – FOX analyst Brian Billick, who coached the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl XXXV victory, and the NFL Network's Rich Gannon, who quarterbacked the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Here's what Billick and Gannon pinpointed as points of emphasis for each team.
The Seahawks' open-field tackling can neutralize Denver's scoring ability.
Safety Kam Chancellor has been a big part of the Seahawks' strong open-field tackling. (AP)
Billick said there's a lot to like about the Seahawks defense, a statement that carries some weight considering his Ravens defense was considered one of the best of all-time.
"I see a lot of compelling things. I see a team that can put a pressure on you with just a four-man rush," he said. "Most importantly, I think it's gonna be a factor in this game, (is the Seahawks are) a team that tackles well in the open field."
To him, that means they can keep quarterback Peyton Manning and the high-scoring Broncos from frequenting the end zone.
"Peyton Manning's gonna get his connections, and if you give him the right box, he's gonna run the ball," he said. "But instead of knocking off those runs that all of the sudden go 10, 15, 20 yards, or completing the balls where they get the yards after the catch in that regard, they keep that to a 4 and 5 yard gain. They're capable of doing that because (of) their ability and athleticism to tackle in the open field."
Denver can make Seattle pay for 3 and outs.
The Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson have gotten away with short drives and settling for punts this season because of how stout the defense is. But Gannon said that could come back to haunt them against Manning and Co., as the Seahawks can't count on their defense holding the Broncos to the same amount of plays.
"I think if I'm Russell Wilson, and I think he understands this, every possession is absolutely critical," Gannon said. "A 3 and out in this game is not just any old 3 and out. It's another 10 or 12 plays and maybe eight minutes of football for Peyton Manning and that offense."
Pressure with four rushers is the key to stopping Manning.
While Denver's passing game gets most of the attention, running back Knowshon Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. (AP)
Simply put, you can't give Manning time to throw. That's evident just from looking at his insane 2013 statistics – 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns, 68.3 completion percentage. You also can't sacrifice pass-defenders against him, because, again, the numbers don't lie. And that's why getting pressure on him with just four pass-rushers is important.
"Well go back and look at the team that beat both of those teams in the regular season, Indianapolis," Gannon said. "I had a conversation with Greg Manusky, (Colts) defensive coordinator. He said he really felt like that was the key against Denver in that regular season matchup, to be able to rush and win with four men. You look at how that played out and that really changes everything you could do in the back end."
Gannon doesn't doubt the Seahawks can get pressure with just four rushers, but he also thinks Denver can counter with its unsung running game.
"I think it's gonna be really important ... the ability to be able to run the football," he said. "Knowshon Moreno rushed for over 1,000 yards. They've got this other back they bring in there in Montee Ball, and he had almost 600 yards rushing. I think Denver has to be able to take the edge off a little bit of that pass rush and be able to run the football. I think it's gonna be important, especially early in this game."
Denver needs to stuff the lanes on defense.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to get his usual 25-plus carries, and it's always important for the Seahawks to get him near or past the 100-yard mark. That, coupled with Wilson's well-known ability to scramble and turn near-sacks into positive yardage, puts the pressure on the Broncos' defensive linemen to win the battle at the line.
"That's the job for Denver," Billick said. "They've gotta fill the rush lanes with five and six guys. Not only to get pressure and stop the run, but they can't let Russell Wilson play-action boot and waggle, get those deep drops, expand that pocket. They gotta keep him in the pocket."
Though Wilson has shown skill in throwing from the pocket, most of his big pass plays come after leaving it.
"They can't let (Wilson) step up either. They've gotta keep that tight pocket," Billick said. "If they do and make Russell Wilson throw from there, that would benefit them."
Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ 10:51am
By Danny O'Neil
NEW YORK – Taking a closer look at two more key players in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle's Earl Thomas and Denver's Wes Welker:
Earl Thomas' vitals
• Position: Seahawks centerfielder
• Height: 5-10
• Weight: 202
• Age: 24
• Experience: Fourth year
He was the safety Seattle never expected to be able to draft, and the one who may be most essential to the style of defense Seattle plays. He is the shortest member of a secondary known for its size, a guy who was a risk taker his first year who has grown to be the safety net reinforcing the back of the defense.
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman and the Seahawks' physical brand of coverage earn all the attention, but it's Thomas and his range that allow Seattle to play the style of defense they prefer: single high safety. That means one man is at the back of the defense, trusted to cover more range than anyone else in the league.
His selection with the No. 14 overall pick in 2010 came as a shock. Not just because many were expecting the Seahawks to target Taylor Mays in the draft, but because when Philadelphia traded up to the No. 13 spot, Seattle was convinced the Eagles made the move to pick Thomas. In fact, general manager John Schneider had a trade already worked out to move down in the draft order were Thomas gone.
When the Eagles picked outside pass rusher Brandon Graham out of Michigan, Seattle was free to pick Thomas and four years later he is making a case as the best safety in the league.
Thomas is one of the quieter members of this defense, but someone who is coming out of his shell this season whether it was keeping a journal to track the growth of his confidence or setting up a booth to offer free safety advice outside Pike Place Market in Seattle earlier this season (Get it? He plays free safety and was telling people to watch their step).
He made no secret about the height of his ambitions this week.
Question: Do you try to emulate another player?
Thomas: "Not really. The safety position is still kind of new to me, but I think I'm unique. If you take two people that I really watch, it would be Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. I just try to take what they do best and bring both of them into my own game."
Question: What is the significance of the Legion of Boom?
Thomas: "I think it just means legendary. We have a great chance to be the best to ever do it, and we understand that. It's about keep practicing our butts off and keep taking coaching and keep striving to be the best."
Question: Do you strive to be a legendary defense?
Thomas: "Definitely. Why wouldn't you? We play this sport to be competitors, and as competitors, second place? We don't have any room for that."
Question: What's the most underrated part of your game?
Thomas: "I don't know. I just try to be the best. I just try to own my role, be the best free safety possible and try to eliminate all the big plays in the run game and the pass game."
Wes Welker's vitals
• Position: Slot machine
• Height: 5-9
• Weight: 185
• Age: 32
• Experience: 10th season
Wes Welker made his name as Tom Brady's favorite target in New England, but he caught a career-high 10 touchdowns in 2013 with the Broncos. (AP)
Welker didn't just play his way to the top of the league after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2004. He changed the way teams look at receivers coming out of spread offenses in college.
Foot speed, quickness and precision have a place in the NFL even for an undersized receiver who isn't going to outsprint a defensive back in a track meet.
The Chargers cut him after one game as a rookie, and he went to Miami where he became a special-teams ace. He returned a punt for a touchdown on Monday Night Football and even kicked an extra point in one game.
After playing three seasons with the Dolphins, he signed with the Patriots as a restricted free agent and went on to log five 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his six years with the team. Unsigned by Patriots after last season, he went to Denver where he had a career-high 10 touchdown catches this season.
Beginning to notice a pattern? Seattle better not be the next team to underestimate Welker because he's one of the tools quarterback Peyton Manning is going to use as he probes for a weakness, a mismatch against Seattle's defense.
Most of the build up to this Super Bowl has focused on Manning's ability to dissect Seattle's secondary, but it's not the quarterback who's going to be fighting through the coverage. It's receivers like Welker.
Question: What do you think of Seattle's secondary?
Welker: "They have a very talented group. A lot of guys that can really run. A lot of guys that have a lot of length, physical guys. They definitely do a great job collectively of playing within their system and doing a great job making plays."
Question: How do you expect to be effective against Seattle's secondary?
Welker: "I expect to be effective just by doing what I do and going out there and playing hard. Playing tough and making plays over the middle, trying to move the sticks and put us in position to score some points."
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 9:06pm
By Danny O'Neil
NEW YORK – I wish Marshawn Lynch talked more to reporters.
I really do. He is funny, he is playful, and it's always a surprise that one of the toughest men in this rough sport has such an endearing sense of humor. Like the time he walked around on his knees to imitate the diminutive Justin Forsett's college job as a security guard. Or when he told Dave Wyman's teenage son – then a Seahawks ball boy – that his feet were so big he looked like an upper-case L.
But as much as I wish that Lynch were more open to interviews, I cannot understand the fact that so many reporters are demanding the NFL require him to be. They've gone so far as to complain to the league through the Pro Football Writers of America regarding Lynch's reluctance to fully engage in the league-mandated media availability.
Their overriding point: it's a requirement of the job. This is true. The league has guidelines for players, mandating that they be available weekly to answer questions from reporters. It's written into the collective-bargaining agreement that was agreed to by the players' union, and if the NFL wants to monitor Lynch's compliance and levy the $50,000 fine that he was facing earlier this year, that's its decision.
I fail to see how it's any reporter's job to enforce that compliance, however, with a rule that is between the player and the league.
The freedom of the press that's written into the bill of rights was not intended to insure that a football player be obligated to bare his soul before a few hundred of the closest reporters at such a ginned up and contrived event like Super Bowl Media Day. Reporters do not have subpoena power nor is there any right to get to know the inner-most thoughts of a Super Bowl participant.
The fact the NFL mandates its players be available for interviews is not anything more than a corporate public-relations policy. The league believes the media coverage generated by that availability is good for business.
For me, reporting has always been a pretty straightforward proposition. You find people that readers are interested in knowing about and ask questions designed to elicit answers that will inform, enlighten or entertain readers about that subject.
And if the subject doesn't want to talk, say that. Now, there's room to criticize the lack of response or to interpret that lack of response or describe the way in which the subject chose not to respond. If the NFL chooses to fine the player based on whether or not that meets the league guidelines, well, that's between the player and the league.
But the complaints about Lynch's 7 minutes worth of answers during the 60-minute media session should not be mistaken for journalistic principles. Trying to get big brother – in this case Daddy Goodell – to take a bit out of Lynch's pocket is like asking Dad to make the neighbor kid share all of his Legos with you.
The absurdity of the whole situation is best embodied by the fact that it's the reporters themselves – moreso than the public they purport to inform – who are the ones most vocal in the criticism of Lynch's lack of involvement.
Lynch pointed out this paradox in a way only he could on Wednesday.
"If y'all say y'all is our bridge from the players to the fans, and the fans aren't tripping, then what's the point?" he asked. "What's the purpose? They've got my back and I appreciate that, but I don't get what's the bridge then built for."
Journalists are observers, not participants. To appeal to the league for a punishment from an agreement that journalists are not party to nor are they governed by, well, that's not journalism, that's being a tattle tale.
Any reporter who thinks otherwise should consider this: That same CBA that requires players talk to the media also forbids the premature disclosure of league suspensions for either performance-enhancing drugs or substance abuse.
Reporters don't get fined for covering those punishments, and they shouldn't be. They're covering the league, they're not beholden to it, which is the very same reason reporters don't have any place actively campaigning for the league to force players to follow the guidelines on media availability.
I wish Lynch was open to interviews, I really do. I also wish the rest of the reporters at this Super Bowl would stop complaining to the league in an effort to make him talk.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 @ 8:13pm
By Danny O'Neil
NEW YORK – There's more than just a generation gap separating this year's Super Bowl quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning is the prototypical pocket passer, a veteran at the helm of the Broncos' record-setting passing game, a former No. 1 overall pick nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career in which he redefined the way his position is measured.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his Seahawks counterpart, Russell Wilson, took opposite paths to the Super Bowl. (AP)
And maybe it's fitting that in this Super Bowl that is a clash of styles, it's the differences that are the most intriguing thing in the comparison of the quarterbacks. They may share a mutual appreciation and a shared work ethic, but they ultimately embody two very different ways for a quarterback to succeed in this league right down to the way in which they were acquired.
Manning is the lottery ticket a team waits for. He was picked No. 1 coming out of college, and no matter how many people recast the 1999 draft as a tough choice between Manning and Ryan Leaf, there was no doubt about who was going first.
The Colts counted themselves fortunate just to be in position to pick Manning, and Denver didn't sign him nearly so much as he picked the Broncos two years ago.
Wilson's path to the pros wasn't nearly so certain. Not when he was in college and balancing two sports, signing with the Colorado Rockies after his junior season at North Carolina State and not even when he was drafted by the Seahawks, chosen in the third round in a decision that was criticized because Seattle took a quarterback who was 5 feet 10 5/8 inches.
That perseverance is something Wilson reflected on as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the Seahawks' victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
"I thought, 'I could have been playing baseball,' " Wilson said after the game.
That reflected the reality that all of the people who told him that as proficient a college quarterback as he was, he simply wasn't big enough to succeed at that position in the NFL and with all his athletic gifts, baseball was the best route to a professional payday.
Twenty-seven victories later, Wilson is one win away from becoming the youngest quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger to win a Super Bowl.
That's not the only significance, though. Wilson would be the lowest-drafted quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Tom Brady won his third title with the 2004 Patriots.
Back then, it wasn't such an anomaly. Brad Johnson won a Super Bowl with the 2002 Buccaneers 10 years after he was chosen in the ninth round, so deep that rung no longer even exists in the draft. Kurt Warner was undrafted and he led the 1999 Rams to the Super Bowl. In fact, he started a six-season stretch in which only one quarterback chosen in the first round started for a Super Bowl champ and that was Trent Dilfer, who was on his second team when he "led" the Ravens to a title.
But starting with Roethlisberger in 2005, only one of the past eight quarterbacks to start for a Super Bowl winner was chosen outside the privileged niche of the first round and that was New Orleans' Drew Brees, who was chosen with the second pick of the second round by the Chargers.
Wilson doesn't face the same burden as Manning on Sunday. Not in terms of workload. Not in terms of history.
Manning is the engine for Denver's offense as well as its rudder. He provides all the horsepower and determines the direction, and the Broncos' success is going to depend on his ability to navigate a defense that allowed the fewest points and yards in the league while forcing the most turnovers.
Wilson is more like the keel in Seattle's run-oriented offense. It's his job to stabilize everything and to keep the offense from capsizing if things get rough.
The two quarterbacks share a position but occupy vastly different roles. Just one more thing separating these two quarterbacks who are at different ends of their respective careers but chasing the very same goal.
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