Seattle Seahawks showed that it’s about the team
Super Bowl XLVIII was not at all what I expected. I thought that it was going to be an arduous battle between the NFL’s top rated offense (Denver Broncos) and defense (Seattle Seahawks). I imagined 60 minutes of unsparing match-ups with one valiant player standing above the rest. It did not happen. It was not close to a battle. In fact, Denver was slaughtered by Seattle 43-8.
I predicted that the Denver Broncos would win. Clearly, I was wrong. It hit me in the second quarter. My preseason Super Bowl pick was not going to be victorious despite a monumental season. Yes, I know, I know, “defense wins championships.” I have not forgotten that lesson. I teach it. However, that is not what struck me as the second quarter was winding down. What I did not think about until that moment was a lesson from the legendary University of Michigan college football coach, Glenn “Bo” Schembechler. In 1984, Bo delivered what is now famously known as “The Team” speech. That day he preached the importance and greatness of being a part of a team. He said that no man or coach is more important than the team. He declared that his Michigan Wolverines would win the Big Ten Championship because they would play as a team.
All of the accolades for the Denver Broncos were for starting quarterback Peyton Manning, not the team. The Super Bowl for Denver was about Peyton. His future in football. His records. His legacy. At halftime with the Broncos still scoreless, the question among fans was, “What would Peyton do?” The facial expressions on the Broncos sideline seemed to ask the same question. The entire game plan was #18. The Broncos were too dependent on their future hall of fame teammate.
By contrast, the Seattle Seahawks were a team. Perhaps it was because for the last two weeks they have been standing up for each other. Their star cornerback, Richard Sherman, was demonized by the public and called a thug because of his post game interview after winning the NFC Championship. Sports pundits questioned the capabilities of quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks remained committed to each other and focused on the team goal: Super Bowl rings. The defense scored. The offense scored. Special teams scored. No one player was heroic. As a team, they beat the Broncos by 35 points. Now they are Super Bowl champions taking the Lombardi Trophy back to Seattle for the first time.
It was difficult to select one player to recognize with our REAL GAME CHANGER AWARD. Seattle’s defense completely shutdown Manning, the league’s MVP. They secured two interceptions and three forced fumbles. Linebacker Malcolm Smith returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown. The offense dominated as well and silenced their critics. They converted almost 60% of their third downs. Wilson led them to three touchdowns, one was a running play and two were passing. Wide receiver Percy Harvin missed most of the season because of hip surgery and did not play in the NFC Championship game due to a concussion. He returned for the Super Bowl and made contributions on offense and special teams. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Great performances by Seattle’s entire team.
So, who do we honor this year?
Heels & Helmets REAL GAME CHANGER AWARD goes to Russell Wilson. He responded to the criticism about his game with 206 passing yards and zero interceptions. Preparing to face the heavily favored Denver Broncos, he motivated the entire team by asking, “Why not us?” Wilson may not have a Super Bowl highlight video filled with stupendous runs and long passes, but he is the quiet general who led his offense to step up and believe in each other. The team.
Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks TEAM on winning Super Bowl XLVIII!
Get in the game!
P.S. Need to fire up your team. Watch Bo’s “The Team” speech.