A GRIP ON SPORTS
There is one sporting philosophy I've always relied upon. Not just for the past few years or decades, but my entire life. I can't go against it now, can I? Read on.
• "Offense thrills the fans, but defense wins championships." I don't know who said it first – Augustus Caesar perhaps? – but that saying has been in the lexicon as long as I can remember. And I can remember a long time. And I've lived that philosophy for as long as I can remember as well, whether I was serving as a player, coach or writer. Which bring us to today, the day before the Seahawks' second Super Bowl appearance. The day I must get off the fence and pick a winner. I asked for your choices earlier in the week and received what I would consider a rather tepid response – though the Hawks were the choice of 80 percent of you in your picks and almost two-thirds of the about 200 poll respondents. So that didn't help. Neither did the copious research I've done all week. I read more than a hundred stories. I talked with a handful of football people I respect. I watched SportsCenter for three minutes – that was enough; after that it was just reruns of the same thoughts – and the NFL Network until Deion's suits began to repeat themselves. But all that research couldn't get me off my first thought. "Defense wins championships." It may not be proven empirically but I've believed it since I watched Vince Lombardi and John Wooden coach. And there is clearly one dominant defense this week. The Seahawks. They have quite possibly the best defense the NFL has seen since the 1985 Bears. There is no "Super Bowl Shuffle" video, sure, but Brandon Mebane does a mean "Truffle Shuffle," so there's that. Yes, the Broncos' defense isn't bad, though it is a bit beat up and vulnerable on the back end. And the Hawks' offense, despite a patchwork offensive line, has had its moments this season, most of which have been supplied by Marshawn Lynch or Russell Wilson. But the spotlight this week is not on either. The Broncos' offense is the best the league has seen in a while, with the Peyton Manning-led passing game record-setting. So is the Seattle defense. So while the Broncos are thrilling, the Seahawks should win, 30-27. If they don't, I'll have to come up with a new philosophy.
• We chatted a bit yesterday on the radio about why the Northwest seems so much more into this team than it was during the last Hawk Super Bowl. I had some rather mundane thoughts on the matter but nothing really deep. So I thought about it on the ride home. And again while lying in bed last night. And I came to a conclusion. The excitement is built on a strong foundation. By that, I mean this: Fans get it. They know a contender from a pretender. The Hawks that ran to the 2006 Super Bowl did it with a bit of smoke and mirrors. They were good, sure, especially on offense, but they weren't built to last. The core was getting older, the quarterback was a journeyman who got hot and the defense had holes – mainly in the depth department. This team, however, seems built for the long run. There are some free agents in waiting, sure, but the Pete Carroll/John Schneider braintrust seems to be good at picking replacement parts. And with Carroll's recent coronation by the players – and this Richard Sherman article – attracting replacements shouldn't be all that tough. So the fans see a bright future, even those who are more Eeyore than Piglet. And that makes it easy to get all worked up for Sunday.
• WSU: Will DaVonté Lacy play? That's the question on most Cougar fans minds today as their team prepares to host rival Washington. The shooting guard has been trying to get back on the court since his appendix was removed, followed closely by a rib injury. We'll find out if he'll play this afternoon. Jacob Thorpe has an advance of the game along with his usual morning post. ... The Cougar women picked up a big win in Los Angeles. ... Ted Miller has his weekly mailbag on ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog, which picked this guy as their top player in the conference. I can't argue.
• Gonzaga: Who had San Francisco as the second-place team in the WCC early in the second half of the conference season? Not me. But that's the case tonight when Gonzaga visits its house of horrors, War Memorial Gym. Jim Meehan has an advance. ... BYU has a bone to pick with St. Mary's.
• Whitworth: The Pirates had little trouble with Willamette. Thomas Clouse has the game story.
• Preps: A sluggish start led to a sluggish game according to Greg Lee's story of Ferris' 54-46 win over Shadle Park in boys basketball action last night. We also can bring you a GSL girls roundup and roundups from girls and boys basketball games in the area last night. Believe it or not, the playoffs are just around the corner.
• Seahawks: The non-stop hype slowed down yesterday as the teams concentrated on practice instead of the media. That wasn't the case for the head coaches, however, who looked comfortable meeting the New York media together. Which is different for Carroll, who wasn't himself when he was the Jets coach. Carroll is the subject of John Blanchette's column today. ... As things have quieted down off the field – the weather is even off the radar, so to speak, as the Super Bowl may be not as cold as feared, which gives other cold-weather cities hope – but that doesn't mean there isn't things to write about. Carroll is a popular choice, of course, as is Sherman. ... Backups are now in the spotlight as we get closer to the game – all the stars have been covered to death, even those with an uncertain future. ... Today is a big day for Walter Jones (pictured) and should be a big day for the one guy who has been unfairly left out of the Hall of Fame over the years.
• I've never really understood this fascination with the weekend. There was no such thing in the newspaper industry. But after working a sweatshop-like four hours a day for five consecutive days – really, aren't there any labor laws? – this week, I totally get it. I'm exhausted. I started looking forward to today on, I don't know, Wednesday. But the irony of it, now that Saturday's here, my to-do list is so long I'll never get it all finished. How do you folks do it? Until later ...