All the Super Bowl talk this week has been about deflated footballs. But there’s still plenty to be pumped up about.
Hyperbole and sports go hand-in-hand like Marshawn Lynch and his nether regions.
It was a boxer who we still call the “Greatest.” Make enough baskets and we’ll anoint you King. Let a baseball roll between your legs and you’re a bum.
It’s a little over-the-top. Unless you’re talking about the Super Bowl.
Careers are defined by them. Sports legends are penned on a 120-by-53 1/2 -yard gridrion canvas.
One week from today, the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will play a Super Bowl that will cement the winner’s legacy.
If Seattle wins, the Seahawks can lay claim to having the best defense in a generation. In back-to-back years, they will have beaten arguably the two best quarterbacks in NFL history. In an era when rules have changed to enhance offense, they will have imposed their will in a way no team has since Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain of the 1970s or the ’85 Chicago Bears.
If New England wins, Tom Brady likely goes down as the best to ever play the position. He’ll have four Super Bowl rings in six tries over a span of 13 years.
Over the past three seasons, Seattle’s defense is 8-0 against future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. It’s strength vs. strength.
“He’s going to try to get you to bite on the deep stuff and throw the short ones,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said of Brady. “It’s a chess game, but I like chess.”
Beyond the macro matchup, this Super Bowl is full of micro matchups that will decide the game.
There’s Rob Gronkowski, a Patriots tight end so powerful he now has his own verb. He’ll run routes in an area prowled by Kam Chancellor, who set the tone for last year’s Super Bowl domination with a big early hit on Denver’s DeMaryius Thomas.
“He just brings that menacing force,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said. “We’re a pack of wild dogs and he’s a lion. A pack of wild dogs if pretty dangerous, but if you have a lion running with you too, that’s something.”
There’s New England own answer to Seattle’s Legion of Boom that includes former member Brandon Browner. He and Darrelle Revis lead a secondary that held Indianapolis, the NFL’s top passing offense, to 126 yards in the AFC Championship game.
Then there are the coaches. New England’s Bill Belichik aims to match Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll’s four Super Bowl rings while Seattle’s Pete Carroll looks to become the first coach to win multiple NFL and NCAA championships. One is as frosty with the media as a New England winter. The other’s press conference quotes could fill an entire newspaper.
Each team has adopted their coach’s personality. New England is detail-oriented and ruthless to the point of skirting the rules in search of an edge.
Seattle is a group of misfits and underdogs, not one of which was a 5-star recruit in high school. They play with a loose swagger that comes from a coach who accepts all types so long as they buy into the team mentality.
So, over the next week, soak up the hype. The game itself doesn’t always live up to it, but this year’s matchup has as good a chance as any.