Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

On Repeat

Matthew Sherry

Editor

On Repeat

Matthew Sherry NFL

This article originally appeared in Issue VI of Gridiron magazine, back in 2014 – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE



“The first meeting that we’ll have will be tomorrow. So it starts tomorrow. Our guys would be surprised if we didn’t [repeat]. We really have an eye on what’s coming. And that we don’t dwell on what just happened, so we’ll take this in stride, and we’ll have a big celebration on Wednesday in town, and enjoy the heck out of it. We won’t miss the fun part of it, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t also set our sights on how this thing can go … I think we are in a very fortunate situation.”

So said a bleary-eyed Pete Carroll at New York’s Sheraton Hotel on the morning after the night before.

And what a night it had been. The Seattle Seahawks had clearly listened to their coach when, during his post-Super Bowl speech, he urged them to “stay up all night long”. And, from his demeanour that morning in Times Square, it was clear Carroll had done likewise. It was hardly surprising, too, given the atmosphere in the locker room the previous evening.
 


“Then, up stepped Marshawn Lynch. In keeping with the rest of the week, he didn’t speak; however, his actions were better than a million words.”


 
Fresh from their annihilation of the Denver Broncos, several players ambled around the MetLife Stadium locker room, getting changed, shouting the odd, ‘We did it’ to one another. In the main, though, it was fairly low-key; lots of hugs and congratulations with the odd bit of fanfare. Then, up stepped Marshawn Lynch. In keeping with the rest of the week, he didn’t speak; however, his actions were better than a million words.

With myself and other journalists beginning to form a circle around him (why, oh why, we thought he would say anything is still beyond me), Lynch – sporting a balaclava-esque hat and a hoodie with ‘Beast Mode’ emblazoned across it – turned his back to us and replaced the iPod that was connected to some speakers with his own. On came a new song (which research tells me was Ready To Ride by Philthy Rich ft. D-Lo) and alive came Lynch. With his hood up and a towel around his neck, he added some spectacular gold headphones (which seemed a little unnecessary given it was the speakers playing the music) and began to bounce up and down. Suddenly, he was in full flow, waving his hands, walking around the room for helpers while maintaining his bounce at all times. Others joined in intermittently, but this was Lynch’s show, the confirmation that a man who had spent all week pretending to have no personality had more than everyone in the room.

Well, almost everyone, for soon there was a new man taking centre stage: the effervescent Carroll. Another circle had formed when the 62-year-old who possesses the energy of someone a quarter of his age entered the room. Despite having clearly spent the previous few hours giving officials and everyone else an earful, he just about mustered words: “We’ve done everything the way we wanted to get it done. I am so proud that we’re able to stand together right here at this moment, build on all of the things we believe in and that you guys never backed off; you kept believing, kept fighting and kept clawing and scratching. And look what you freaking did! Put that freaking trophy up again!”

After a collective cheer, he went on by mentioning every big moment in the game: ‘Kam gets an interception; Big Kam!’… ‘Malcolm Smith gets an interception, touchdown. MVP!’… ‘How about Percy’s kick-off return?’… ‘How about Doug Baldwin getting another touchdown?’… ‘How about Russell going 18/25 for two touchdowns and a 123 QB rating?’ There were plenty more, too, but it was the last one that resonated: “And this one for all-time: this is the first time for 35 yards that Seattle has owned a world championship.”
 


“One of the things that happens so often is that teams have a big fall-out after they win the Super Bowl. We’re not in that situation.”


 

All of Carroll’s proclamations and questions drew a cheer from the players, coaches and – in some cases – hacks around him but that last one earned the loudest, for these players knew they had conquered their Everest and become the first Seattle team to do so. I imagined that the feeling around the locker room would be of relief to have finally achieved the biggest feat in football, a sense of excitement at the celebration ahead. However, it was the comments that Carroll would make the following morning that were being spoken by all of his team – who themselves were welcoming dynasty talk. Richard Sherman, whom I grabbed a word with before he limped to the bus, said it best: “There is not much further (to go) than being a Super Bowl champion, but we can do it again. We plan on being back.”

Those words are easy to say and, after all, the last two Super Bowl winners have failed to even reach the playoffs the following year. But, despite facing the toughest division in football, I’d be willing to stake my life on that not happening to Seattle. In fact, I would confidently predict that, barring injury nightmares similar to those suffered by the New England Patriots last season, they will at least make the NFC Championship Game.

And Carroll seemed confident, too, that morning at the Sheraton. “I think we are in a very fortunate situation,” he added. “[General manager] John Schneider has done an extraordinary job of structuring this roster contractually and with a vision looking ahead so that we keep our guys together. One of the things that happens so often is that teams have a big fall-out after they win the Super Bowl. And we’re not in that situation.”

The previous year’s Ravens were a prime example of just that as they lost eight starters through retirements, releases and trades – largely in order to hand Joe Flacco a big-money contract among other moves. Seattle, too, have lost some good players, with Red Bryant and Chris Clemons joining Jacksonville, plus Walter Thurmond III heading to the Giants. Yet, with the exception of the latter, those were in-house decisions to free up cap space.

So just how are Seattle in such good shape? Well, the formula is simple: draft well. For example, they picked up Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, now two of the league’s stars, in the third and fifth round respectively and are subsequently paying them a pittance (in footballing terms at least). Wilson will make $662,434 next year and Sherman $555,000. General consensus says two corners are undisputedly the best in football: Sherman and Darrelle Revis. ‘What’s the difference in their salaries,’ I hear you ask. Well, Revis signed a one-year, $12million deal with the Patriots this off-season so is earning 24 times more than his contemporary.

Now, of course, that will change eventually. Earl Thomas, the star free safety, will likely get his money this off-season, while Sherman and Wilson are primed to next year. But, even then, Seattle – who have the NFL’s second-youngest team – will be able to make savings in other areas. And let’s not forget, the draft is every year and recent history suggests the Seahawks have a knack for finding stars in the lower rounds. So any fans with an anti-Seattle agenda may as well prepare themselves now: it isn’t going to be another 35 years until they lift that Lombardi Trophy again; in fact, it might just be one…



SEAHAWKS DRAFT SUCCESS STORIES

K.J. Wright, LB, 99th overall 2011
A fourth-round pick, Wright is now an integral piece in the Seahawks’ defense after taking over from former top-five pick Aaron Curry midway through the 2011 season. Two-and-a-half years as a starter has brought 243 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. The 6ft 4ins the linebacker is an imposing figure in the middle of the defense as he sniffs out everything from runs to screen passes with great speed and strength. His seven Super Bowl tackles ranked fourth on the team and helped choke the Broncos’ offense.

Earl Thomas, FS, 14th overall 2010
Okay, he was a first-round pick but Thomas is too good to leave out. Coming out of Texas in 2010, he had a lot of potential – which he has more than lived up to. The three-time Pro Bowler has the best range of any safety in football and reads the game like no other. Thomas is the best player the Seahawks have drafted in the last decade and he only misses out on the number-one spot because of the expectation coming out of college.

Kam Chancellor, S, 133rd overall 2010
One of the most intelligent and instinctive players in the NFL, Chancellor covers receivers like a cornerback but hits them like a linebacker. As a fifth-round pick, he learned his trade behind former Patriots Super Bowl winner and Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy before taking over a full-time role in 2011. Since then, he has 320 tackles, eight interceptions, five forced fumbles and two sacks. The two-time Pro Bowler’s play in the Super Bowl set the tone for the Seahawks’ 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos.

Russell Wilson, QB, 75th overall 2012
Knocked by many for standing just 5ft 11ins tall, Wilson has proved size does not matter by leading Seattle to a Super Bowl victory in just his second season in the league. A steal in the third round, Wilson has excellent footwork, vision from the pocket and awareness. Much like Drew Brees, he is helping to revolutionise the quarterback position and giving a huge helping hand to all those players who are being told they are ‘too small’ to play under centre in the NFL.

Richard Sherman, CB, 154th overall 2011
One of the most physically dominating cornerbacks in today’s NFL, Sherman has gone from fifth-round pick to shutdown stud in no time at all. The former Stanford Cardinal locks down one side of the field while the rest of the Seattle defense goes to work. He talks a big game but plays even bigger. The Seahawks could reward him with the biggest contract for a cornerback in NFL history very soon.



This article originally appeared in Issue VI of Gridiron magazine, back in 2014 – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE

The Weight Of Reputation

This article originally appeared in Issue LI of Gridiron magazine, back in 2019 – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE ...

THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

This article originally appeared in Issue XXIX of Gridiron magazine, back in 2017 – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HER...

On Repeat

This article originally appeared in Issue VI of Gridiron magazine, back in 2014 – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE ...

Taking it on the chin

This article originally appeared in Issue XXXVIII of Gridiron magazine back in 2018 – for individual editions or subscriptions, click H...

Cardinal Winners?

This article originally appeared in the 2020 Gridiron Annual – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE Rumours started to ...