SUPER BOWL XLVIII
The Seattle Seahawks are World Champions. Man, it doesn't get any sweeter than that.
Even sweeter-- we weren't supposed to win. We're just a scrappy young team that stood in the way of an NFL monarch's quest for immortality. Peyton Manning was supposed to have had his way with the mouthy Richard Sherman and his arrogant Legion of Boom. Wes Welker was supposed to redeem himself by slicing his way through the heart of our defense all night long. Denver was supposed to expose the inexperience of Russell Wilson and shutdown Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll was supposed to be made a fool.
Instead, the only thing that was exposed last night was who the better team was.
En route to their first Super Bowl title, Seattle left no doubt on the field. Even if we were to have seen a repeat of Super Bowl XL officiating, the Seahawks didn't allow for it. They did just as Coach Carroll said, just like they do in every game, they focused solely on their own execution.
I've never been more proud of my team and my city.
When I saw the scoreboard illuminate a picture of the the Seahawks logo along side the Lombardi trophy with the word 'CHAMPIONS'-- I was reduced to tears. Seeing Paul Allen, the man that kept the Seahawks from fleeing to LA in my childhood, Pete Carroll, the man whose vision led us here and Russell Wilson, the improbable savior of Seattle sharing the podium and hoisting that trophy-- it was like everything was right in the universe.
I will never forget the 2013-14 Seattle Seahawks as long as I live. There may never be another team like this one. In all of the years I've followed the game of football, I've never seen anything like this team. This season is one that I will treasure for ever.
It all starts at the very top with our owner Paul Allen. Like I said, when I was a young fan in the 1990s, Seattle had just ended its first golden era and was descending into its darkest period. The team was packed up and threatening to leave for Los Angeles but was saved when Allen purchased the franchise. Since then, Seattle has transformed into a franchise to be reckoned with but didn't reach their true pinnacle until Allen made the controversial hiring of Coach Pete Carroll.
Pete Carroll turned the Seahawks, and the whole NFL for that matter, upside down. Everything he has done since the day he was hired has been excessively critiqued and harshly criticized. Most importantly, it has worked. Together with General Manager John Schneider they have built a program that has since become the envy of the league. Perhaps none of their moves more controversial than their decision to draft Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks needed a franchise quarterback. No one in their right mind assumed that Matt Flynn or Tarvaris Jackson was the long term answer-- but no one outside of the VMAC had the thought, at least initially, that Russell Wilson was the man for the job. As it turned out, Wilson had the talent and ability that fit the mold of the new-school quarterbacks with the heart and preparation of old-school quarterbacks who came before him. Last night, Wilson cemented his legacy.
For as great as Wilson is, he would not be a fraction of who he's become if not for the stellar performance of his supporting cast. Marshawn Lynch, who replaced Barry Sanders as my all-time favorite running back, is perhaps the quietest player off the field but his actions on field are the loudest you'll find. Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse did last night what they've done since joining the Seahawks: WORK. Those guys could start for any team in the NFL. Meanwhile, Percy Harvin proved in 12 seconds exactly why we gave up a first round pick to get him.
By the way, have you noticed how few teams use fullbacks anymore? In a time where the fullback position has become somewhat of an afterthought, we're privileged to have two of the most inspirational players at that position in Michael Robinson and Derrick Coleman. Both were integral in this year's Super Bowl run and both have become inspiring leaders in their own right.
The big guys upfront get a lot of the blame when things go wrong and almost no credit when things go right. Max Unger, Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, James Carpenter, JR Sweezy and Breno Giacomini got it done all year. I'll even loop Zach Miller and Luke Willson in on this group because their both often asked to do the dirty work. These guys made the success of Wilson and Lynch possible.
But you know what they always say: Defense wins Championships.
From the bottom of my heart, I mean it when I say this-- This is the greatest defensive unit I've ever had the privilege of watching. For this group, it all starts with the guys up front.
Red Bryant, Tony McDaniel, Clinton McDonald and Brandon Mebane were the guys who brought their lunch pails to work all year. Seldom were there names called and I don't think I saw a single interview from them during Super Bowl Media Week. All season they quietly performed their responsibilities with championship caliber excellence.
Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett proved to be the biggest free agent pickups in recent history. I suppose not since Peyton left Indianapolis for Denver has free agent acquisitions had such tremendous impact. Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons continued their dominance from last season while sharing the spotlight with several new additions.
Everyone was concerned with the state of our linebacker group at the beginning of this season. It had seemed as if Pete and John had simply forgotten to address the void left by LeRoy Hill's departure from the team. Little did we know, we were more than fine with what we had.
Malcom Smith, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, has become a magnificent playmaking linebacker. I thought that Bobby Wagner should've been the defensive MVP considering how well he played on a defense full of greatness. KJ Wright has become a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker, too. As terrific as those three have proven to be, Seattle's defense is predicated on its outstanding depth of talent. Mike Morgan, Heath Farwell and O'Brien Schofield were good enough to start elsewhere, but their contributions here guided us to greatness.
We all know that the identity of this team lies within its secondary. We know them only as The Legion of Boom.
The greatest defensive backfield the NFL has ever known is lead by a young all-pro safety named Earl Thomas. The thunder to Earl's lightening is Kam Chancellor. Never has their been a better pairing of elite talent at safety.
The biggest mouth in the game just so happens to reside on the face of the best corner in football today. I'm of course talking about Richard Sherman. He's at his best when you don't hear from him at all-- an indicator that the opposing quarterback is doing his best to avoid throwing anywhere near him.
Trust me, it doesn't get any easier as you work your way down Seattle's cornerback depth chart. Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond emerged as top-tier corners when they were forced into the starting lineup opposite Sherman. They got picked on-- and they picked it off.
Even the special teams squad is elite. You couldn't ask for better kicking specialists than Steven Haushka and Jon Ryan. Guys like Ricardo Lockette, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, Chris Maragos and Jeron Johnson shined with every opportunity they were given.
Even guys like Sidney Rice and Brandon Browner who were vitally important to getting this team to where they are today might have since played their last downs in a Seahawks uniform but will not be forgotten for their crucial contributions.
We are World Champions, Seattle. What once seemed so far away is now in our grasp. We are Super Bowl XLVIII Champions. Embrace it and cherish it. I believe strongly that we have witnessed the beginnings of a new dynasty last night, but the fact remains that this particular team will never exist again. Championship teams get raided in the offseason and even bit players are paid like Super Stars to play for a new team. We will likely lose players and coaches that were instrumental in our success to teams hoping desperately to emulate what has been built in Seattle. We saw it happen to Baltimore last year and I assure you Seattle will be no different.
I have faith that Pete and John will manage brilliantly, as they have to this point, to make sure that we have the best roster we can put out next season. They will retain the centerpieces and will surely draw in talent from other teams that want to be a part of what's happening in Renton.
But this 2013-14 team is now in the books and will never look the same again. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them, from the players to staff, for an unforgettable season. Getting to watch them hoist the Lombardi Trophy as Champions of the World as I looked on with my 5 year old daughter and the people I love most was truly one of the greatest moments of my life.
World Champs. Go Hawks.