Let the Super Bowl hype begin.
The national media and major newspapers have arrived and they’re churning out stories. The Seahawks are getting plenty of stories written about them, but not all of it’s glowing.
Marshawn Lynch took a couple of hits, for instance. Keep reading to catch both jabs at the Seahawks’ running back. The Seahawks take a shot from another columnist. That’s here, too. .
First, here are links to all The Seattle Times’ great coverage from Phoenix, then Wednesday’s roundup of what the national media are writing.
Let’s take a break from beating up the New England Patriots and go after the real villains in Super Bowl XLIX — the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll is a more detestable coach than Bill Belichick. Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin are more dislikable players than Tom Brady. Even the Seattle fans are more obnoxious than Patriots fans. Remember their crybabying after Super Bowl XL?
Doesn’t it just make you sick that one of the teams has to win the big game Sunday night?
It will be hard to watch Carroll hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the second consecutive season. A Seattle win would match the two national championships he won at Southern California in 2003 and 2004. That second title at USC has an asterisk, though. The NCAA vacated the Trojans’ final two wins in 2004 and their 12 wins in 2005 when it came down on the program for giving players improper benefits. That scandal led to star running back Reggie Bush giving back the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005.
And they say Belichick plays loose with the rules?
What’s most galling about Carroll is that he bailed out on USC to take the Seattle job and the millions that went with it in January 2010, about five months before the NCAA sanctions. Of course, he has said he never would have left if he knew the program was going to take such a hard hit. “I’m absolutely shocked and disappointed in the findings of the NCAA … I would have stayed there to do what we needed to do to resolve the problem.”
And they say Belichick plays loose with the truth?
Trouble seems to follow Carroll. In his tenure at Seattle, at least six players have had issues with performance-enhancing drugs or the NFL’s substance-abuse program. A seventh — Sherman — appealed the results of his test for PEDs in 2012 and beat the league. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the Seahawks have won so much.
The most popular man at the Super Bowl walked into media day Tuesday like a prizefighter swaggering toward the ring, fans screaming, reporters staring, smile glistening.
Marshawn Lynch stepped through the crowd, climbed onto a small podium, carefully adjusted a microphone, and began the battle with a warning.
“You can sit here and ask me all the questions you’ll want to, I’m going to answer with the same answers, so you all can shoot if you all please,” he said.
Then he reared back and knocked the stuffing out of decorum, took 29 questions, gave essentially the same answer for every one, jabbed again and again, reporters rolling their eyes, the crowd at US Airways Center roaring in delight.
“I’m here so I won’t get fined,” he said.
“I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” he said.
“Hey, hey, I’m here so I won’t get fined,” he said.
“I’m just here so I won’t get fined, boss,” he said.
He would turn his head to face a questioner, then give that answer. He would lean down and cup his ear to better hear a question, then give that answer. Once he even climbed out of his seat to retrieve a reporter’s fallen tape recorder, placed it back on the podium, and then gave that answer.
With fans now standing and howling at every similar syllable, Lynch ended the fight with the commanding pronouncement of a referee standing over a prone and helpless body.
“Time!” he shouted as the scoreboard clock ticked off five minutes, at which point he stood up, climbed down, and disappeared behind a barrier even though there were 55 minutes left in the session.
Time, indeed. Money time. Fame time. Me time.
Marshawn Lynch literally grabbed his crotch to express contempt for the assembled throng of 200 media members as he made his way to his podium at the start of Media Day.
For the next 5 minutes or so, Lynch figuratively grabbed his crotch to express contempt for the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.
Lynch was fined $31,050 by the league for grabbing his crotch as he entered the end zone during two recent Seahawks games. He was fined $100,000 in the past year for his lack of cooperation with the press, including a debacle at last year’s Media Day. One report contended that the NFL threatened Lynch with a $500,000 fine if he acted similarly here.
Well, he acted similarly yesterday.
Let’s see how the league reacts to this crotch grab.
Lynch stayed on the podium for just under 5 minutes, the minimum required of him. He answered none of the 30 questions asked of him. He repeatedly droned, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” a phrase that trended on Twitter 1 minute after Lynch left the podium. He saluted himself on the big screen in the middle of the US Airways Center. Ever self-serving, Lynch was thrown a bag of Skittles candy, with whom he has an endorsement deal.
Lynch, who timed himself on his smartphone, saw the 5-minute mark pass, arose and said, “Time.”
He left the Skittles bag on the stage and bolted.
With more than 57 minutes left in Media Day, Beast Mode entered Airplane Mode and ended all transmissions.
Media Day at the Super Bowl, an hourlong availability of essentially everyone of merit in both organizations held every Tuesday of Super Bowl week, seldom elicits any real information about players or their teams; but then, most interviews with NFL types elicit little information. Top players and the head coach are available 3 or 4 days during Super Bowl week, but the intent of Media Day is to afford access to all players, coaches and executives to all members of the press on one day, in one place.
The NFL has credentialed entertainment reporters and fostered a circus atmosphere, a circus the NFL now charges fans $28.50 to witness.
The availability has devolved to include guys who wear barrels over their bare torsos; Olympic skaters Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski asking fashion questions for NBC; and beautiful women in short skirts who salsa dance with Kam Chancellor.
OK, we can keep that last one.
But, be it cramped and hot and inelegant, Media Day serves its purpose.
If you need to speak with the kicker or the punter or the special-teams ace, you get that done at Media Day.
If your paper or website or station cannot afford to send you to the Super Bowl site for the entire week, you get all of your interviews done on Media Day.
Every player is contractually obligated to participate at Media Day.
Every player also is contractually obligated to interact with the press after games and during weeks of game preparation.
During the AFC title game, we watched LeGarrette Blount pound the rock and ground the Colts into submission. It was 30 carries of smash-mouth dominance.
It was the Patriots version of Beast Mode.
When Super Bowl Sunday comes around, however, can anyone say with certainty Blount will be asked to carry the ball even half as much as he did against Indy?
Given the Patriots make their game plans specific to each opponent, it’s conceivable Blount won’t have much of a role against the Seahawks. Maybe he’ll be tucked away on the sideline, not even a complementary piece.
The Pats barely registered a ground attack against the Ravens in the divisional round, running just 14 times. It was the same way against other teams that were stingy against the run, such as the Jets and Lions. It was almost like they didn’t even try.
The Seahawks also boast one of the best run defenses in the league, so you get the drift. But here’s the difference between the Seahawks and everyone else: They’re even better at slowing down passing attacks.
So how should coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels attack?
If you watch the way certain teams beat the Seahawks, most notably Kansas City and Dallas, and even some of the early success Green Bay had penetrating Seattle’s front wall, there should be a role for Blount greater than sideline cheerleader.
The Pats shouldn’t put Blount in moth balls. He should be used to help crack Seattle’s top-ranked defense.
The Seattle Seahawks defense isn’t just an elite group—it also matches up perfectly with its Super Bowl opponent.
When we start thinking about all the important pieces of the Super Bowl tale of the tape, our minds immediately go toward the quarterbacks: Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. Maybe we then go to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch or New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Thinking of the Seahawks, though, often involves more than just a passing glance at the incredible defense which has been the class of the league for some time. The Seahawks have found diamond after diamond in the rough and paired them with some of the very best at their position.
Yet, it’s not just the defensive superstars, such as cornerback Richard Sherman, who will make the Seahawks an absolute terror against the Patriots. Instead, it is almost as if head coach Pete Carroll and Co. have been preparing for this very moment.
If the Patriots contain Russell Wilson’s movement, they’ll win Super Bowl XLIX. If they don’t, the Seahawks will.
It’s that simple.
Wilson and the Seahawks have achieved what no offense in recent memory has: a viable attack built around the quarterback’s mobility. There have been plenty of running quarterbacks in the NFL, especially now. Some are faster than Wilson (see Colin Kaepernick). Some are stronger (see Cam Newton). Some have been shiftier (see Michael Vick, circa early 2000s). But no quarterback has been more effective than Wilson at using his legs to make his entire offense better.
There’s a structure to Wilson’s movement. His 849 rushing yards this season (fifth most alltime) don’t begin to tell the whole story. Wilson is the most accurate on-the-move passer in football. That movement gives Seattle’s passing attack sustainability. It’s a passing attack that takes place behind a so-so line and with very mediocre wide receivers, all of whom struggle to separate from man coverage. When Wilson gets outside the pocket, instead of breaking down the play, he alters its configuration. His receivers, who can separate if afforded extra time, have gotten very good at adjusting to their improvising quarterback.
Containing Wilson means not only preventing him from running around, but also having a plan for when he does. For the Patriots, this is tricky. Being a man-based defense, at least four and often five of their players will have their eyes off the quarterback and on their receiver. And those players will be running away from the ball, following their receiver’s route.
MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — While they wait for Earl Thomas to arrive for the photo shoot, the conversation darts from Super Bowl tickets for family to overrated wide receivers to the finer points of the referee-defensive back relationship. They lounge on couches in Richard Sherman’s foyer as the host and unofficial voice of the Legion of Boom holds court, rattling off reasons for learning names of game officials and greeting them cordially before and during games. “They’re just like anybody,” Sherman says. “They’re human.”
About three hours after the suggested meeting time, Thomas pulls up in a black Rolls-Royce, and out pours a family—mom, girlfriend and two-year-old daughter. Thomas gets a pass: He was undergoing treatment for his injured shoulder, dislocated during an NFC title game for the ages. Thomas played through the pain, as did Sherman with a hyperextended elbow, as Seattle came back from a 16-0 halftime deficit to beat Green Bay 28-22, earning a second consecutive Super Bowl trip.
This was supposed to be Sherman’s Sports Illustrated cover, but the All-Pro turned down a solo pictorial in deference to his teammates. He wanted every defensive back on the front of the magazine, but settles for five on the cover and the rest on the inside. The Seahawks provided five sets of gray warmup sweats—one each for Sherman, Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane—but the group turns them down. “The guys want to express their individual style,” Sherman says. “It fits with our story.”
Indeed, the Legion hails from football factories (Sherman played at Stanford; Thomas, Texas; Chancellor, Virginia Tech; Maxwell, Clemson) and FCS outposts (Lane’s alma mater is Northwestern State). Its members come big (Chancellor, 6-3, 230) and relatively small (Thomas, 5-10, 200). They come from Compton and Tidewater and, in Thomas’s case, right smack in the path of Hurricane Rita in Orange, Texas. Debbie Thomas lost her home in 2005 when Earl was a teenager, and has remained by his side since.
She watches from Sherman’s driveway as a pizza deliveryman arrives mid-shoot and nearly drops his cargo when he realizes he’s delivering pepperoni pies to the Legion. Photographer Robert Beck tells him to jump in for a photobomb, and the athletes play along. When it’s all over, Debbie Thomas pats her son and Sherman on the shoulder with an ear-to-ear grin. “You made his year,” she says, “That’s what you’re supposed to do, no matter how big you get.”
I keep thinking: Write about the game, write about the game. Then Bob Kraft stepped to the podium Monday evening.
The Patriots owner challenged the NFL—he was speaking to the assembled Super Bowl media, but really he was speaking to Park Avenue in Manhattan—to verify the allegations that the Patriots’ first-half footballs in the AFC Championship had been tampered. Failing that, Kraft said the league must apologize to the men he feels the league has wronged: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
The NFL has retained litigator/investigator Ted Wells to lead a probe into whether the footballs were improperly deflated, and if so, how. Wells said Monday the investigation could take several weeks.
Kraft is a friendly, collegial sort. But there was nothing of that tone when he strode to the podium at the Patriots team hotel shortly after their arrival in Arizona for Super Bowl 49 and said: “If the Wells’ investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week. I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.”
This was doubling down on the league, challenging the NFL to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the footballs used nine days ago were tampered with by a human being in the short time (six to 10 minutes) between when they left the officials’ locker room and the time of the opening kickoff.
He is wearing a Charvet tie and custom Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft has to be uncomfortable watching his franchise and his league engage in a game of chicken with their reputations over deflated footballs.
Either Kraft’s team or his compliant commissioner, Roger Goodell, is going to take another legacy body blow with the NFL’s investigation into how the Patriots played the first half of the AFC Championship game with underinflated footballs..
The brand Kraft has so carefully constructed since he swooped in like a guardian angel to keep NFL football in New England in 1994 is pitted against the commissioner he has easy access to and heavy influence over on the game’s biggest stage.
There can be only one winning side in Deflategate and Kraft loses something either way.
Kraft has chosen a side to back, and it’s the guys he pays for out of his pocket, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, not the commissioner who is in his pocket.
Kraft came out swinging at the league Monday, when the Patriots arrived in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX. The grand poobah of Patriot Place said he unconditionally believes the Patriots did nothing wrong, and that if the league can’t prove tampering with the balls it owes the Patriots an apology.
He didn’t back down Tuesday, 15 years to the day that he hired Belichick. Kraft was asked what his employees’ reaction was to his declaration of innocence.
“To be honest by and large, except for our quarterback, they’re not paying much attention to it,” said Kraft. “I think they think it’s a bunch of hogwash. I think Bill does a good job of telling them what to focus on. I’ve gotten a lot of positive comments from them. But I just said what I believe.”
Kraft’s tune has changed in the arid Arizona air. He was supportive of the league’s investigation in a prepared statement last Friday that included nary a claim of the team’s innocence. That was before Belichick’s presented his scientific football findings, which did not include an explanation for the Colts’ footballs.
It would seem the Patriots and the NFL are locked in a micturition match.
That’s fitting, considering the crux of the NFL’s evidence is video of a ball attendant taking footballs with him into a Gillette Stadium bathroom for 90 seconds, according to reports by Fox Sports and Pro Football Talk.
Kraft’s defiant stance on Deflategate has to have Goodell quaking in his loafers.
At Super Bowl Media Day, a panoply of frivolity and self-aggrandizement, Kraft was asked whether he had spoken with his good pal, commissioner Goodell, about the investigation.
In brevity worthy of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, he replied, “No.”
Maybe, it was an innocuous answer, or maybe it was Goodell’s Fredo moment from Foxborough.
Of all of Goodell’s losses this season, losing the imprimatur of Kraft would be the worst.
Whatever the pressure was in the deflated footballs, there is greater pressure on the league to get the Deflategate inquiry right.
Goodell needs a faith-restoring win on this investigation in the worst way.
It’s been an Oakland Raiders-esque season for the commissioner with public scrutiny from the league’s handling — or mishandling — of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson domestic violence cases.
The last time such capricious and arbitrary punishment was handed out was during the French Revolution.
In Goodell’s darkest hour, after TMZ released the video of Rice punching his now wife Janay in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino nobody jumped to Goodell’s defense faster than Kraft.
Kraft defended Goodell on “CBS This Morning,” backing up the commissioner’s claim that he never saw the video in initially issuing Rice a two-game ban.
According to a GQ story, Kraft also arranged through fellow Master of the Universe CBS president Les Moonves to have Goodell do a sit-down interview that evening on the “CBS Evening News.”
Kraft is one of the more most powerful owners in the league, with influence in league labor matters and his fingerprints all over the golden goose of NFL television right fees.
When he calls over to NFL headquarters at 345 Park Ave., Goodell picks up the phone. The GQ piece quoted a veteran NFL executive referring to Kraft as the “assistant commissioner” because he has so much sway with Goodell.
You tend to do that when someone helped get you the job.
Along with the Rooneys, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Mara family, co-owners of the New York Giants, Kraft politicked fellow owners to get Goodell the two-thirds majority he needed to succeed Paul Tagliabue as NFL commissioner in August of 2006.
Ever since then there has been a perception in some league circles that the Patriots are one of the NFL’s favored sons, given a pat on the back when other teams get a dress shoe in the derriere.
Seahawks corner Richard Sherman said Sunday that the Patriots won’t get punished because Kraft and Goodell are close, citing photos of Goodell at Kraft’s home for an AFC Championship game party.
Kraft fired back at Sherman at Media Day.
“Well, I think Richard Sherman is a very smart marketing whiz,” wizsaid Kraft, before explaining that the league stopped paying for an AFC Championship game party a few years ago, so he holds one at his house for corporate sponsors if the game is at Gillette Stadium.
Kraft then talked about how money from corporate sponsors is shared with the players.
“He didn’t go to Harvard, but Stanford must be pretty good because he figured it out,” said Kraft.
Ok, so Kraft isn’t exactly the Henry Clay of trash talk. But he gets his message across.
He has done that here at Super Bowl XLIX.
Deflategate is a winner-take-all, high-stakes reputation and legacy poker game between the Patriots and Goodell.
Kraft already has chosen a winner.
Bill Belichick watches Russell Wilson and sees some Roger Staubach in the Seahawks quarterback. Staubach sees it, too — not just because Wilson’s legs are as dangerous as his arm, but because Staubach’s old nickname, Captain Comeback, fits Wilson, as well.
“That was one of the greatest comebacks I’ve ever seen,” Staubach told Sporting News from his Dallas office Tuesday. He was speaking of Wilson rallying the Seahawks from a 19-7 fourth-quarter hole in the NFC title game to beat the Packers and reach the Super Bowl against Belichick’s Patriots .
Staubach, the Hall of Famer who won two Super Bowls in four trips with the Cowboys, has seen his share of dramatic rallies, including some he led in the 1970s. So what he repeatedly said about Wilson’s feat is the highest of praise.
“As a quarterback, you’ve got to convince your teammates you can do it together. That’s a really important trait,” he said. “Russell Wilson is at the top of the list of getting his teammates to believe in him.
“Green Bay, now, they didn’t quit, either. They came back to kick the field goal and tie the game again. But Russell was on fire. At 19-7 with that five-minute ticker on, after throwing that interception — you’ve got to have that total confidence that you can’t give up. You can’t quit.”
After that game, Belichick told reporters that Wilson’s running and escapability reminded him of Staubach, who the coach watched growing up as the son of Navy assistant Steve Belichick. (Staubach played at Navy in the 1960s.)
Curtis Martin played for the Patriots and Jets in his Hall of Fame career. Through his 11 years as a top NFL running back, he had Bill Belichick as his assistant head coach twice, and Pete Carroll as his head coach once.
So how would he compare those two Super Bowl-winning men, who are coaching the Patriots and Seahawks, respectively, in S
“They contrast more than anything,” Martin told Sporting News. “The only thing that’s similar is their determination to win. Pete is a totally different style, with a totally different approach than Belichick. They’re moving in opposite directions.”
Martin said he enjoyed playing for both of them. He recalls when Carroll was his head coach with New England for their sole crossover season in 1997, Carroll had work to do to get to a level of a championship college and NFL coach.
“Pete had a vision of what he wanted to accomplish. At that time, he was a little before his time in a sense. He needed a younger team with the right environment, the right support so he could create that culture. We’re seeing it with the Seahawks.”
Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch has a heavy heart as he prepares for his first Super Bowl this week.
This one’s for Tonka. And Buick. And Francis. And Snickers.
“Those guys are always going to be in my heart,” Branch said Tuesday at Super Bowl Media Day.
Those “guys” were Branch’s four dogs that died June 21. They were four victims in an incident known out here as the “Gilbert 23,” for the 23 dogs that died at the Green Acre Boarding Facility in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert.
Branch and his wife, Ashley, are huge dog lovers and at one point had six living with them and their daughters, ages 7 and 1½. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office determined the dogs likely suffocated. One of the Branches’ dogs survived the tragedy.
“It was definitely rough,” Branch said. “I’m bouncing back slowly but surely from the loss. … Fortunately we’re getting through it. The kids aren’t crying or waking up crying missing their dogs right now. I think we’re doing better.”
Branch, who began his NFL career with the Cardinals and lives here in the offseason, put his five dogs in the boarding facility to attend Bills minicamp last summer. He also played for the Seahawks from 2011-12.
Branch was attending a funeral and was on his way back to Arizona when he got a phone call from the owners at Green Acre. According to a statement Ashley Branch gave to police, the owners told her one of her dogs had chewed through the metal fence and electric wire and that all four had escaped. By the time they found the dogs, the owner said, they had died from heat exhaustion.
Except the Sheriff’s Office discovered a different story. The owners of Green Acre, Jesse and Maleisa Hughes, went on a trip without telling the dog owners, and they left the dogs in the care of Austin and Logan Flake. The 28 dogs were crammed into a 9 x 12 room with one air-conditioning vent.
Logan Flake told authorities that she had checked on the dogs around 11 p.m. and they seemed fine. But when she checked on them again at 5:30 a.m., several of them had died and several others were severely ill. The air conditioning either broke or malfunctioned, and all but five of the dogs died.
In August, a grand jury charged the Hugheses with 22 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, plus one felony count of fraud. The Flakes were charged with 21 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.
The incident has sparked outrage across the Valley of the Sun, as Maricopa County attorney Bill Montgomery dropped all but the one fraud charge in late December.
“I just want justice,” Branch said. “And if anything, for Arizona to have stricter laws on what can be considered a boarding facility.”
The New England Patriots don’t have a name for their secondary (Legion of Whom?), but the unit is every bit as good as the one you will find in Seattle, starting with Darrelle Revis.
Revis allowed just 41 catches on 79 targets for 557 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions during the regular season, for a 72.6 passer rating against. In the playoffs that has dropped to 53.8. Revis, unlike Sherman, follows a receiver around the field — and that necessitates going inside for slot coverage. On those snaps he has allowed just seven catches on 22 targets for a minuscule 24.6 passer rating against, which includes the playoffs.
“Revis is a guy that can take on any guy any week,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re short, quick or a big guy with a long stride.”
On the other side is Browner, who played well during the regular season (89.7 passer rating against) but has been more of a “bend-don’t-break” corner in the playoffs (four catches on five targets for 67 yards with just three of those yards after the catch).
Kyle Arrington often gets overlooked, but he did a tremendous job shutting down Colts’ deep threat T.Y. Hilton and has allowed just one touchdown against all season (Week 6 against Buffalo).
Safety Devin McCourty don’t get nearly enough recognition, but he has allowed just 0.29 yards per snap in coverage to receivers and has three interceptions over the regular season and playoffs. Patrick Chung finished the regular season with 61 tackles and assisted on 33 others, plus defended seven passes. The 27-year-old also made 34 stops against the run.
But if you were looking at which team has the edge, it’s almost too close to call.
According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, the Seahawks and Patriots are in almost a dead heat in pass coverage and passer rating against.
Mixed in with the absurd were real questions about gameplans, match-ups and the excitement felt by each of the players heading into the biggest game of their lives. Many spoke about the people who helped them get to Glendale, particularly the mothers who have been with them every step of the way.
So, in honor of those moms who washed uniforms, wiped away tears, headed up carpools, and inspired with their words and example, a few Super Bowl-bound players shared the best advice their mothers ever gave them and how they’ve applied it to this week.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks WR: The best advice she’s ever given to me is “Find value in the valley.” That’s one of my favorite quotes from my mom. When you’re in a dark place, when things aren’t going your way, find value in that. Figure out what it’s trying to teach you. Learn from it, so when you get back out of the valley, you can use that to make you stronger.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots QB: She always tells me keep moving when I’m on the field. She doesn’t like when I get hit — she’s not the biggest fan of that. So I’ll try to listen to her on that!
Darrelle Revis, Patriots CB: My mother is a very strong woman. She’s been through a lot in her life. I think her experiences helped me become the man I am today. I thank her for that, I really do. I think I got my toughness from her.
Brandon LaFell, Patriots WR: Finish. My mom always preached “Finish.” It’s crazy because that’s the reason I went back to college my senior season. I was gonna leave early but she said, “You know the motto: We finish everything we start.” This is the last game of the season. We put all this work in — why not finish the right way?
Rob Ninkovich, Patriots DE: My mom has given me a ton of great advice. Every game she’ll shoot me a text and tell me words of encouragement. I would say she always tells me to go out there and do your best and have no regrets. At the end of the day, if you don’t regret anything you do, that’s the best way to live life.
Bryan Walters, Seahawks WR: My mom is such a sweet woman. Probably something like that “Do your best, honey. It doesn’t matter, as long as you give it your best.”
“I don’t care about them (Seahawks) being a top defense, they don’t bother me,” Blount said. “They were good enough to get here, just like we were good enough to get here. They’re not immortal, they can be beat.”
Blount will play a key role Sunday in attacking the Seahawks‘ defense. Despite big-hitting safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, and linebackers Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin, the New England Patriots‘ running back is confident he can move the ball against the NFL’s No. 3 rush defense in the regular season.
11. Brady and Russell Wilson were two of the NFL’s lowest-paid starting QBs in 2014 with base salaries of $2 million (Brady) and $662,434 (Wilson). The base salaries don’t tell the whole picture. Brady got a $30 million signing bonus in the new deal he signed in 2013.
12. Wilson is still playing off of his four-year, $3 million rookie contract. He made less than his backup Tarvaris Jackson in 2014. Wilson’s payday is coming. He is poised to be the NFL’s next $100 million man. The Seahawks allocated only 1.9% of their team salary cap to the QB position in 2014, according to Spotrac.
13. Brady has made $150 million in playing salary and bonuses in his career, according to Spotrac. Only Peyton Manning has made more in NFL history.
14. Brady remains one of the NFL’s most marketable players with off-field income estimated at $7 million from licensing and endorsement partners like UGG for Men and Under Armour UA -0.57%. Wilson is a budding endorsement star and has deals with Microsoft MSFT -1.41%, Bose , Alaska Airlines, American Family Insurance and others.
15. Wilson is shooting to be the first starting QB with two Super Bowl titles in their first three seasons (it took Brady four seasons).
16. Wilson’s career passing rating of 98.6 is topped only by Aaron Rodgers.
17. Wilson is 10-0 against Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and will attempt to make it 11-0 against Brady and the Pats on Sunday. His team’s record is 42-13, including playoffs, in his career. The 42 wins are the most by a QB in their first three seasons.
18. Wilson had the NFL’s second-best-selling merchandise from September through November. Brady was No. 5 and Richard Sherman ranked No. 8.
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