Ahead of the Curve

Ying & Yang

If Denver wins Super 48, you probably wouldn't be reading this piece. Same old, same old. But Seattle winning their first, after suffering through the questionable officiating in SB.40 (PIT), that's a horse of a different color.

First to the losers.

Those poor Broncos, by early 3Q were probably mouthing, 'Anybody find that breaker-switch yet, there's a 40-year old bottle of Dalmore SHM in it for whoever does?' 

The Super Bowl is the Great Exaggerator, creating caricature of every right, every wrong. That is the double-edged sword with which every Super Bowl participant must contend.

If you don't feel as bad for the Broncos as much you feel good for the Seahawks, either you're a Seattle partisan or you don't love the game. The winning side is glorious, the losing, oh man, that pain goes deep.

Though, two guys I won't be shedding any tears over are "Papa" John Schnatter (Peyton's bud) and Denver GM John Elway. Elway told us before game (Fox) he does not believe in "safety-nets."  Where he stands on 'opportunity,' they didn't ask.  So then I guess this loss couldn't of happened to a better, more prepared man.

'Mama Maria's Pesticide-free' Manna from Heaven

Don't expect Seattle owner Paul Allen to be on that side calling for a shortened build-up to the Super Bowl anytime soon. Now Denver's Pat Bowlen, he may be singing a different tune on that extra week of wait after seeing his guys lay an egg in SB.48.

That added week of shill & sales that fans can't hate enough after the Conference title tussles gave a slightly off kilter 'Hawks a much needed window of opportunity to re-group, fine-tune. It was especially helpful for concussed Seahawk Percy 'Electric' Harvin who might not've suited-up for the big game had it been held in January.

Seattle was a bit off their game that final month of the regular season, losing steam late by dropping 2 of 5 (Dec) and even giving one up to intra-division rival and up & comer Arizona in Week 16 (10-17). A small shock.

And as for the NFC title, 'Hawks just stole that one, plain & simple. For second time in three years, 49ers gave away another trip to the promised land, leading for three Qs in their rivals previously impenetrable home playground and then suffered red-zone brain-lock at the worst possible time, again (SB.47).

For Denver, that delay was a momentum killer. Though they 'bumped their head' against the Bolts W15, in Denver no less, they were cruising. And the throttling they gave long-time rival New England in AFCT (26-16) seemed portend of things to come.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder but it can also dull the senses. Thanks, Roger.

Mistake Toner

In no sporting venue do miscues prove more fatal, more foreshadow of frustration than in the Super. Ask the ol' Minnesota Vikings (0-4), whose glory days in 70s always ended in a thud because Purple gang began every SB with a bungle of one sort or another.

Miscues won't happen harmlessly here. In the regular season you'll recover from early game jitters (like the first play, bad snap from Denver's center, affording Seattle a record-setting quick-strike for safety), but not in this arena. It sets the tone, leaves a mark that runs as deep as tattoo ink. It shouldn't, as these guys are professionals, but this stage is the biggest America offers since the Eagle landed in July of '69 (Sea of Tranquility).

Peter the Great II

Talk about a coaching progression, holy potato skins. Even the not-easily-impressed round-baller Larry Brown must be...impressed.

Peter Carroll restores glory to a meandering USC program and shows the SEC what for, now he's rocking the NFL. Could Carroll be the new Belichick, Bill Walsh? Time will tell.

His first year in charge in Washington ('10-11) he puts 'team' back on Seattle's roster, improves their record to 7-9 (5-11), squeaks into the playoffs by NFL's cockamamie 'divisional-reward program,' the sporting gods smile and his guys bump off the defending champion New Orleans juggernaut (41-36), making it to the NFCT where they get bounced by the Bears (24-35). Sporting gods like to have their fun, but they ain't no fools.

Looking for the right signal-caller, Carroll & crew tread water with Minnesota cast-off Jackson ('11), then land Russell Wilson ('12) after nabbing Packers hot-commodity Matt Flynn earlier. Outta' the gate, Russ leads 'em to NFCD where they only give it away to the A-birds late but come back strong in 2013 like they never missed a step.


For all those predictions about flash QB set to change the face of the NFL, Pete Carroll & Co. may've ushered in the real game-changer in this SB.48, making it the true watershed event that would alter the game for decades to come: a serious & sustainable defensive prowess, i.e., bad-mother defense (cue: Sam Spence & John Facenda, "The Pony Soldiers").

There have been tenacious teasers along the way in these pass-happy, prevent-defense days of sticky-gloves & non-tackling specialists: the '85-86 Bears, Gruden's Buccaneers ('02 ('78 Bucs better)) and the Ray Lewis-run Ravens ('00 / '12), but none of 'em ever stuck around to really alter the landscape of the game. Bulldozers.

And don't put Dick Sherman's face on it. Last we saw of Dick he was on crutches in SB.48, knocked out w/ a fourth quarter ankle bang, slightly reminiscent of fellow diva Fred "the hammer" Williamson whose trade-mark close-line move got all tied up by the Green Bay Packers in SB.1 after Fred was laid out cold in the first quarter. Ouch.

Dick plays his part well (lay in wait), but it's the stick-men, in Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright and now SB.48 MVP Malcolm Smith who work it front & back, up & down, side-to-side, tackling w/ abandon, respecting pass-defense, becoming the "normalizers (IP-6 inosotil (Dr. Becker))" who free it up for Rich to do his thing.

Jim Harbaugh's painted the 49ers with similar brush, a total team mentality and no room for wayward egos like Incognito or Suh, though loss of linebacker extraordinaire Navarro Bowman to a knee injury in the NFCT was a major blow to SF's own progression.

Bart Starr-esque

He kept his cool, stayed pocket-poised and managed the game like a pro. Just the mere fact Russell Wilson maintained a regularity-of-movement most every possession, while toiling in long shadow-of-comparison cast by the legend on the other sideline (PM), is enough to have given him the nod as the game's co-most valued performer.

But like someone who just dropped in, these voters favor flashing lights and glory stats.

The former Wisconsin Badger only motored three times (26y / 16.lg), putting up passing numbers reminiscent of the great one Bart Starr in his first Super Bowl 1 vs. Kansas City ('67 / 35-10) and winner of that game's inaugural MVP accolade.

Russell: 18-25, 206y, 2 Tds;

Bart: 16-23, 250y, 2 Tds, 1 int.

The QB who can execute game plan, appreciate teammate contributions and put aside an admirable but disruptive tendency towards force (INT) & flash, is a godsend to his guru and then money in the bank. Cha-ching, Mr. Wilson.

John Allen "Jimi" Hendrix (1942 - 70)

A native of the Emerald City, Jimi Hendrix is credited with a quote as real and as visceral as were the innovative cords he electrified for the world's wonderment. And if Sherman might chime-in I think he'd agree, Jimi's enlightened statement is the right note with which to sum-up the Seahawks wondrous 2013-14 journey to fulfillment at MetLife:

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks, champions of Super Bowl 48.

Steven Keys

NFL Hunch Line

Photo Credit: Jimi Hendrix

February 4, 2014  01:52 PM ET

Have never before seen a picture of Hendrix with a guitar other than a Fender Strat.

February 4, 2014  06:06 PM ET

I'm guessing he's just modeling that one, he seems so disconnected to it, like he's not even wearing it. I got it off Google images, it had no marker or origination note. It's a tough one, I just can't tell. Interesting, though.


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