Greg Garber | ESPN.com
RENTON, Wash. — Television crews were standing around the corridor at the Seahawks’ facility on Wednesday afternoon, talking among themselves, when a blur of khakis hurtled toward them.
Pete Carroll, grinning maniacally, blasted his coaching whistle.
“OK, OK,” yelled the Seahawks coach, “everybody out of the pool!”
And then, leaping to tap the bold-faced slogan “I’m In!” painted over the double door leading to the field house, Carroll exited swiftly, stage left. Most of the dozen or so in the hallway don’t look up quickly enough to visually identify the perpetrator. But they knew it had been him.
Just another day in the relentless party that is the Seattle Seahawks.
Carroll is 62, making him the NFL’s second-oldest coach after the Giants’ Tom Coughlin. You would never know it.
“He believes in us,” strong safety Kam Chancellor said. “He wants us to be the best we can be.”
High energy is the phrase that came to the minds of several players when asked about Carroll’s coaching style.
Well, it works. The Seahawks are one of the last two teams playing, and they make the trip to New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII. Carroll’s team has won 15 of 18 games this season and, according to the experts in Las Vegas, is a two-point underdog to the Denver Broncos.
“It’s hard to believe he’s 60-whatever,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said of Carroll.
In one sense, Carroll acts his age. As the Seahawks worked through what was termed a rousing practice by several players, they were accompanied by a chorus of blaring anthems from the past: Bon Jovi, Journey, Van Halen — OK, someone snuck in the Roots’ “Here I Come” — and then another from Bon Jovi. Wait a minute, that’s two from the band from New Jersey, actual site of the Super Bowl. Hey, are the Seahawks just lucky — or good?
We will give Seattle the benefit of the doubt. It found a way to beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 last Sunday with a defense that forced four turnovers. A year ago, that defense allowed a league-low 245 points. But Carroll retooled it — clearly a risk — with a handful of players moving to new positions and, in many cases, accepting more responsibility and considerably less glory, in terms of tackles or sacks or interceptions. Seattle allowed only 231 points this year — just more than two touchdowns a game.
Peyton Manning’s Broncos, of course, are the league’s highest scoring team (37.9 points per game), which gives us the first No. 1 irresistible object versus No. 1 immovable object Super Bowl since XXV culminated the 1990 season.
On Wednesday, a number of headlines emerged that will be leading themes next week in the Big Apple. Cornerback Richard Sherman undoubtedly will be near the top of the list. After his postgame interview/rant in the general direction of Fox reporter Erin Andrews — he called 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree “sorry” — Sherman was crushed in the Twittersphere. The word “thug” came up more than a few times.
“It seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the n-word nowadays,” Sherman told reporters in the team’s auditorium as 13 television cameras rolled.
Sherman’s teammates will tell you he is one of the smartest, most engaging players on this team. One of them went so far as to call him a “nerd,” which is about as far as you can get from “thug.”
There was defensive end Cliff Avril, who was a member of the 2008 Detroit Lions team that went 0-16. Three players from that team — Denver linebacker Paris Lenon and center Manny Ramirez are the others — find themselves a win away from a championship. Perhaps that’s why Avril got so emotional when he talked about what it would feel like to clutch the Lombardi Trophy.
“That’s the dream right there,” he said. “That’s why you play this game, from fooling around in the backyard to this greatest stage.”
And how about this what-if scenario?
Remember two years ago when Manning, with grave concerns about his neck, was a free agent? The Seahawks, among others, coveted the then-Indianapolis Colts quarterback. Carroll and general manager John Schneider reportedly took owner Paul Allen’s jet to Denver, where they hoped to convince Manning to relocate to the Pacific Northwest.
“How you guys doing?” Wilson said, in one of his slow walks down the hallway strewn with camera equipment. “You ready to go?” Rest assured, the Seahawks are ready for Super Bowl XLVIII.