3 things to know: How close was Peyton to playing for the Seahawks?
There are three things you need to know about each Super Bowl team, based on Tuesday’s media sessions.
Mike Garafolo was with the Broncos, Peter Schrager with the Seahawks.
1. Not only did the Broncos practice outside at the Jets’ facility on Wednesday, they also strapped up the pads. The players weren’t surprised and didn’t complain, either. They’re used to working in the cold and fully suited.
"It’s what we’ve done all year," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "From Day One, we have maybe (one) padded practice every week. I mean, we did go a few weeks without it, but I think we’re a better team when we get out there and actually go through gamelike situations with our pads on. So it definitely helps us."
A few of the Broncos’ defensive players said the pads and the increased contact that comes with them are necessary to work on form tackling in preparation for facing Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on Sunday.
2. Peyton Manning might’ve been worried he was coming down with a case of vertigo Wednesday morning. While walking to his seat for the news conference, Manning had to stop and grab the counter in order to prevent himself from falling. He then sat down, answered a few questions from reporters and finally had to make sure he wasn’t the only one feeling a little off-balance.
"Is this boat moving?" he asked.
Yes, he said boat. The Hyatt Regency in Jersey City, where the Broncos are staying this week, doesn’t have a ballroom big enough to hold all of the players and the assembled media. So the NFL brought in a party boat for the daily news conferences and interviews. By the end of the hour-long session, the choppy waters of the Hudson River had made many players and reporters seasick. There were no reports of any players missing practice, though Manning clearly thought for a moment his status for the day could be in trouble.
Thursday’s media session will be the third and last aboard the Cornucopia.
3. Often, when a team has a backup quarterback who doesn’t run very fast, they’ll use a non-quarterback to prepare for a scrambler like Russell Wilson. Not so for the Broncos, according to defensive end Shaun Phillips, who said Brock Osweiler is running the scout team.
"It’s hard to mimic a guy like that, especially with our backup quarterback. Brock’s not a Russell Wilson type," Phillips said. "He’s got a great arm, but he’s not a run-around, mobile quarterback. He’s a passing quarterback. But we’ve played against a bunch of scrambling quarterbacks. We’ve got five or six under our belt. We’re sticking with our same game plan and telling people, ‘Remain on the hunt.’"
Phillips added it’s important for the team’s pass rushers to stay on their feet against Wilson.
"You can’t be diving, selling out and he’s still running around because you’re out of the play then," Phillips said, adding: "He scrambles to throw. He doesn’t just scramble and then run. If he has it, he’ll take it because he’s a very smart quarterback, but he wants to try to make plays downfield."
1. A day after spending less than seven minutes interacting with the media on Tuesday’s required Super Bowl Media Day, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was once again the story at Seattle’s required media availability session Wednesday. Whereas the other top Seattle players were set up at podiums in a large banquet room at the team hotel, Lynch was placed in a cramped hallway, where he sat at a long table flanked by four of his fellow running backs. The Seahawks star, fined $50,000 by the league earlier this year for not participating in interviews, participated for six minutes and 47 seconds before climbing over some chairs and leaving with a security escort. "I appreciate it," Lynch said of the throng of reporters set up in front of him. "But I just don’t get it. I’m just here so I don’t get fined."
In a statement released Wednesday morning, the Pro Football Writers of America said it was "extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access" that Lynch gave reporters during Tuesday’s media session. "Several of our long-standing and high-profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions," the PFWA said in the statement. "We find the statement by the league that ‘Players are required to participate and he participated’ to be an affront to our membership."
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll insisted that Lynch’s lack of desire to engage with the media is by no means a distraction to his team this week. "You know we have obligations that we try to fulfill the best we can," Carroll said. "I don’t know how we can look at this any other way — not everybody is the same. In our program we understand that, to a point that we made the statement that we celebrate the individuality and the uniqueness of our guys. I think that we would like to comply and do everything that we can to the best of our abilities, but we are who we are."
Lynch’s teammate Michael Bennett explained, "Every single Sunday, Marshawn puts his body on the line to levels that nobody could ever understand. That’s what matters to us."
"Why is it such a big deal?" asked defensive end Cliff Avril. "Some guys just aren’t vocal. I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t think it sets a bad example for anybody. Some people just don’t like being out in the media. They don’t like the attention."
The Seahawks players have a final media obligation Thursday morning. After that, it’s all about football. Lynch will let his actions on the field speak for themselves.
2. Could Peyton Manning have been a Seattle Seahawk, playing in front of the 12th Man? Well, there was a conversation about it. Back in March 2012, Pete Carroll was awoken by an early morning phone call from No. 18 himself. "It was brief," Carroll said Wednesday. "Word got out and, really, he called me. He called me first," the coach said. "He knew that we were interested, and he gave me a call and woke me up one morning and — jumped out of bed. ‘OK, let’s go. What’s up, Peyton?’
"And so we started talking," the Seahawks coach recalled. "We talked about just the basics of what it might mean for him coming to us and so the process was under way. It was very early. He had said he didn’t know what he was going to do, he didn’t know where he was going to visit, he didn’t know what was going to come up, and he wanted at least to hear where we stood and what our interest was."
But that was that. Carroll said it was a "very short process" before Manning chose John Elway, John Fox and the Denver Broncos over all other suitors.
3. Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril was on the winless Detroit Lions. Five years later, he’s now just one win away from a Super Bowl ring. "If you grind, do hard work and have faith, anything’s possible," Avril said Wednesday of his NFL journey. "It’s been an emotional roller coaster as far as the ups and downs and winning and losing in my career, yes, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. I think it’s going to be a great story to tell my son at some point later in my life."
Did Avril know then just how bad that 0-16 Lions squad was?
"I didn’t even realize how terrible we really were," he laughed. "I was just a rookie and was still trying to figure out the NFL and how things work. And honestly, I was just trying to get on the field. It wasn’t until after the year, when I understood how bad we were. During the offseason, I couldn’t tell people I played for the Lions because we didn’t win a game. It was crazy."
"You learn from all these things, so it’s cool," Avril said. "I’m enjoying it all, man. I’m happy to be here."