EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Football coaches love to replicate game conditions in practice, even atmospheric ones. And Pete Carroll buys in – to a point.
The weather outside is frosty if not frightful, and will be for Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday. But Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks have been practicing indoors at the New York Giants’ facility, which would seem to give the edge in acclimatization to the Denver Broncos, who are going outdoors at the New York Jets’ field in Florham Park.
Or maybe not. Carroll cranked open the five doors around the Giants’ hangar to let in some fresh air, bringing the indoor temperature down to 36 degrees. Or roughly what it’s supposed to be at the game’s 3:30 p.m. PST kickoff.
“The turf out there is somewhat frozen, and the turf in here is good,” Carroll explained “And if we could get the temperature anywhere near what it will be Sunday – it could be anywhere from the low 20s to the mid-30s – that’s what we wanted.”
And the Seahawks will move outside the rest of the week “only if we need to,” Carroll said.
Denver coach John Fox, however, had no problem asking his team to work out in the 21-degree temperatures outside, made even chillier by 21 mph winds for a 9-degree chill factor.
“We’re pretty much weather-proof,” Fox said. “We practice in this stuff all the time. Being in Denver, we’ve played in a few different elements. We practiced numerous times in single digit, played in single digit, played in wind. We’ve practiced in snow many times. We’re pretty much ready for anything.”
Offered wide receiver Doug Baldwin, “When it comes to game time, that stuff is not going to be a factor. It’s all mental at that point.”
As he did at Tuesday’s Media Day circus, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch kept his appearance at Wednesday’s interview session at the Seahawks’ Jersey City hotel short – and this time not as sweet.
He bailed again after less than seven minutes, this time climbing on chairs when his escape route was blocked, and was more visibly annoyed.
And he confessed to the obvious.
“I’m just here so I won’t get fined, boss,” said Lynch, who has been threatened by the NFL with a $100,000 fine for not fulfilling contractually obligated media appearances. “That’s the only reason I’m here.”
The NFL had said his six-minute participation on Tuesday got him off the hook, which brought a stinging response from the Pro Football Writers of America. In a statement, the PFWA said some veteran members were “appalled” by Lynch’s conduct and called the NFL’s response “an affront to our membership.”
On the other hand, the media got more participation from Lynch than the Seahawks did. He sat out Wednesday’s practice – as he normally does, as a rest precaution.
Picking up Percy
Receiver Percy Harvin’s return for Seattle’s first playoff game was quickly short-circuited by a concussion, and while he’s been cleared to play Sunday, just how much of a factor he’ll be remains to be seen.
But he’s frank about what got him through his recovery from hip surgery earlier in the season.
“If it wasn’t for my teammates being there for me the way they were, I might’ve just shut it down,” he said. “Just being discouraged, there came a point in time where the training staff didn’t know whether it was a smart idea to try to come back in the same season. Like anyone has ever had hip surgery and came back in the same season.
“A lot of frustration came with it. I probably would’ve been done with the season if it wasn’t for my teammates.”
Returning the favor
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning gave the Seahawks brief consideration when he was shopping himself as a free agent in 2012, and some of that was because of a fondly remembered encounter with Carroll.
It happened when Carroll was coaching at USC and Manning was visiting Los Angeles in June and needed a throwing workout. He called Carroll to ask if the Trojans’ receivers and quarterbacks were working out.
“I just wanted to join right in and throw whatever routes Southern Cal was throwing,” he recalled. “Coach Carroll had eight receivers, four tight ends, four running backs – all stretched, lathered up and ready to go when I got there.
“I said, ‘What routes do you want to run?’ They said, ‘No, Coach Carroll said we are going to throw whatever routes you want to run. This is going to be your workout.’ That is about as good a treatment as you can get for a visitor to a different team.”