Coming to you live from Arizona (no, I’m not staying for the Super Bowl), where the locals seem pretty pumped up about XLIX.
This is Cardinals country, and a lot of Arizona football fans don’t like the Seattle Seahawks, but judging by the comments I heard on Monday and the tone of the reports I’m hearing on the local television stations, there seems to be a lot of respect for the Hawks.
That said here are a few storylines you’ll be reading and hearing about in the days leading up to the Feb. 1 game against New England at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale:
Tom Brady vs. Russell Wilson: The Patriots quarterback will play in a record sixth Super Bowl and will be going for his fourth ring. That’s Joe Montana (and Terry Bradshaw) territory. Wilson, meanwhile, is back for this second straight Super Bowl and has a shot to do something no quarterback has ever done: Win two Super Bowls in his first three seasons. It’s the classic drop back passer (Brady) against the elusive play-maker (Wilson) who can beat you with his arm and his legs. A story in USA Today bills it as old-school vs. new-age QBs.
Richard Sherman vs. Tom Brady: Sherman will get more than his share of news, and not all of it will revolve around the elbow injury he played with over the final minutes of Seattle’s OT win against Green Bay. Remember the “You Mad Bro” moment following Seattle’s regular-season upset victory over the Patriots in October of 2012 at CenturyLink? It was, more or less, Sherman’s coming out party as a big-time trash-talker who has shown that he can back up all of that talk.
Former Legion of Boom member Brandon Browner vs. his old team: Browner’s now a cornerback with the Patriot. He was a big part of the LOB, but had to sit out the big game a year ago because of violating the NFL’s substance abuse violation. After Sunday’s games, Browner said he felt all along that a New England-Seattle matchup in Arizona was inevitable.
Pete Carroll vs. Bill Belichick: Carroll was fired by Patriots owner Robert Kraft in 1999 after an 8-8 record in his third season. Kraft then hired Bill Belichick and we all know how that worked out: six Super Bowls in 14 seasons. Carroll went on to turn USC into a powerhouse and now has the Seahawks knocking on dynasty’s door. Carroll’s youthful appearance and emotional coaching style seems the opposite of the dour-looking Patriots’ boss. There’s a mutual respect between the two. “I like Pete. I like him a lot,” Belichick told ESPN.com.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski vs. Seattle safety Kam Chancellor: Everybody’s waiting for The Collision in the Desert between those two hombres. If it happens, you might feel it back in Seattle.
Finally, Marshawn Lynch vs. the media: Will he talk? You remember Lynch’s memorable Super Bowl Media Day interview with Deion Sanders a year ago in New Jersey? “I’m just about that actin boss?” Can he top that one? Here’ s what I wrote a year ago after listening to that exchange:
Marshawn Lynch lasted 6 minutes, 20 seconds at Super Bowl Media Day before escaping the big stage.
Deion “Prime Time” Sanders of NFL Network hunted Beast Mode down, and the interview with the Seattle Seahawks star was priceless. Here’s a portion of it.
“You look good,” Sanders told Lynch, who was wearing sunglasses and had the hood of his Seahawks’ jacket pulled up.
“(Bleep), so do you,” said Lynch, fingering Prime Time’s suit coat.
Sanders told Lynch it looked like he was ready to play.
Lynch: “Yep, that’s what time it is.”
Sanders then asked if Lynch was a little shy.
Lynch: “I’m just about that action boss. … I ain’t never seen no talk win ya nothing. Been like that since I was a little kid. I was raised like that.”
Asked if he was excited about the game, Lynch, wearing sunglasses, said, “Hell, yeah. … yeaaahh!”
Sanders then said some think the Seahawks will be in trouble if Lynch doesn’t get untracked.
Lynch: “They gonna have to stop all of us. I’m a beast, but we got some dogs.”
Sanders: You don’t like podiums do you? What is your thing?
Lynch: “Lay back, kick back, mind my business, stay in my own lane.”
Sanders: He told Lynch that NFL Network and former star back Marshall Faust loved him.
Lynch: “That’s huge. He’s a great.”
Sanders: “We all love you.”
Lynch then went third-person on us.
“That’s big time. Beast Mode love and appreciate that.”