NEW YORK – “According to the weather forecast . . .”
I’m guessing I’ll hear those words several thousand times in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. As I wrote in a subscription column for MyAJC.com, people are tracking the forecast for Sunday’s forecast as if they’re tracking a meteor falling to earth.
But the weather is kind of a big deal. A storm dropped 14 inches of snow on the New York-New Jersey area last Tuesday. Schools were closed. It paralyzed the city.
Forget the predictable soundbites from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about football being meant to be played in the elements. The Super Bowl isn’t just a football game. The NFL commissioner has put the entire event – actually, series of events – at risk by doing this. I go down the reasons why this was a bad idea in the column. I also spoke to some street venders, who, needless to say, are counting on a blizzard so they can sell more knit hats and gloves. One called it her “dream.”
I’ll be writing both subscription columns and free blogs all week. I also hope to broach what it was that enabled Denver and Seattle to reach the Super Bowl and not the Falcons, who, needless to say, didn’t come close.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll had two gems at his media session Monday. The first was his opening remark: “First, I’d like to say it’s really great to be here in New Jersey.” (I would like to think it was Bruce Springsteen and not Chris Christie who put him up to that.)
His other key comments focused on the Seahawks’ personnel decisions. Carroll and Seattle general manager John Schneider have made a series of terrific decisions over the last four years in drafts and free agency. It’s why the Seattle has gone from four consecutive losing seasons to 24-8 in the last two regular seasons and a Super Bowl berth.
Here’s Carroll on the aggressive approach he and Schneider have taken: “We really don’t care about what other people think. We’re not going to be driven by what the status quo may think. We’ve really trusted our gut on decisions. We’ve done a lot of questionable moves that people want to know about.”
Referencing the past four drafts, Carroll said: “I had nine years at (USC) to be in charge of personnel, as well as coaching and everything else. It really helped me tremendously in our philosophical approach, in our commitment to young players. When you’re a coach, you don’t like playing the young guys. When you’re the GM you want to see all the young guys. When you’re a GM and a coach – in essence what you are in college – I made the choice to go with young guys. We developed a whole approach about that and a philosophy about how that worked out for us and it paid off in a tremendous way. For the most part the personnel guys will think that way but the coaches don’t coincide because they feel like when you play the young guys you’re going to lose. As a matter of fact Bud Grant used to say that for every rookie you start you’re going to lose a game. Bud and I didn’t agree on everything.
“We’ve had a tremendous run in the lower rounds. There’s a whole list of them, guys in the fourth round and sixth round that are starting for us, have contributed in a big way, and have allowed us to recreate our football team in a short time.”
The best of the low round draft picks: safety Kam Chancellor (fifth round), cornerback Richard Sherman (fifth round), cornerback Byron Maxwell (sixth round). That’s three-quarters of the starting secondary.
The Seahawks also added defensive linemen Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, as well as wide receiver Percy Harvin in free agency. (Harvin missed most of the season with injuries but he is expected to play in Sunday).
The Falcons obviously have had some success in drafts and free agency, just not nearly to the extent of Seattle. There have been more misses – particularly on the offensive and defensive lines.
When you think of the Seahawks, you think of a tough, physical team with arguably the most talented roster in the NFL.