THE SUPER BOWL: PART I
I’ve been trying for days to put into words how it felt becoming Super Bowl Champions. To be honest, all I can say is it felt right. It felt normal.
I would love to sit here and say, “Oh my God, it was everything I ever wanted in life.” Obviously, I was very appreciative of the opportunity, and I don’t take anything for granted. None of us do.
But really it felt like that was what was supposed to happen.
The morning of the game, I woke up at about 6:30 a.m. I couldn’t sleep. So I got up, did my stretching, prayed, took a shower and got ready for the walkthrough, which was at around 10:30.
After that, I went to Kam Chancellor’s room. We just talked for a while. We talked about the whole season, how we’ve evolved as ballplayers. Everything Kam said, I knew it was coming from a great place, from his heart.
When I left that room, I was calm. I was relaxed. I was ready to play because I knew that guy was with me. I’ve been saying all year: that connection that we have is stronger than anything, especially in this league. It’s the reason we play the way we do.
The locker room was really loose before the game. I felt like I was ready for anything. I was walking around with my chest out, encouraging every guy in there. I felt so much emotion, guys were looking at me crazy, but I was just so excited to be on that stage.
Once we got out there, I was just having fun, letting out that natural passion. When you do that, people feed off of it. I was talking to Kam, telling him he was a beast, telling him that he could change the way people look at big safeties. (I think he’s definitely doing that.)
I was really confident in our game plan. I felt like we were in control of the game, even in warm-ups. It was a feeling I had never felt before, and I couldn’t really explain even if I tried.
But I know where it came from.
The biggest reason I believe we were able to win a championship is because we prepare better than anybody in the NFL.
We learned a lot from watching film of the preseason game we played against Denver. Peyton Manning was in the game for a long time, and it was a lot like a regular season game situation. When we watched their playoff game against San Diego, we noticed that they were still kind of running some of the stuff we saw in the preseason.
The coaches did a great job of getting us ready, and then we talked amongst ourselves. We put what we were all thinking about Peyton and how he was going to attack us on the board, and talked it through. By the time we were done, we had worked everything out. There were no grey areas.
We felt very confident after that.
Having two weeks of preparation helped us tremendously. That first week, we prepared as if it was a normal week, and we were playing them at the end of the week. Coach Carroll knew we could separate ourselves that way. During that second week, some teams might get distracted by the media and everything, especially in New York.
But we were already so prepared in our hearts, minds and souls, when we got to New York, we were still in it and hungry. That second week, we didn’t let the distractions get to us. The focus carried over from the first week. We got our edge. Our best practice of the year was during that week in New Jersey.
It was also an amazing week off the field. I ran into so many celebrities: singers, rappers, other football players at the top of the game. All season long, I’ve been working hard to be great. To be able to reap the benefits of my effort through those events and the amazing experiences working with Jordan Brand, that’s the type of stuff you dream of. I was in awe for most of it.
Richard Sherman,Earl ThomasAs the game got underway, I could feel the great energy coming from our guys. I knew we had what we needed to play the game and dominate.
When their first snap went into the end zone, the first thing I thought was, “Thank you, God,” because I knew it was going to be one of those games. I swear, it felt like we were back at CenturyLink. As soon as that happened, I knew something special was going to happen.
And I was right.
We went in at halftime up 22-0, but nobody was celebrating. We’d been there before — I don’t just mean in a previous game. The day before the game when we had our walkthrough, we simulated a 30-minute halftime. The only thing that was different: In our mock game, Coach told us that we had scored 14 points. So when we went into the locker room, we knew what to do.
We did our stretching. Everybody was focused. We hit the reset button, and treated it like the score was 0-0.
That allowed us to go back out and keep dominating.
It’s crazy, but the guys I’ve been pointing to all playoffs long in these blog entries were the guys who elevated themselves in the game.
We’ve all had our doubters. Doug got into it with Cris Carter. Sherm and Michael Crabtree. Kam had people telling him he was too big to be a safety, that he couldn’t move the way you need to. Now they’re comparing him to the all-time greats like Ronnie Lott. Everybody here plays with a chip on their shoulder. It’s crazy to give us more motivation, but we love it. Our receivers stepped up great in the Super Bowl, and now those so-called no-name receivers, they definitely have a name now.
Russell Wilson keeps beating these “elite” quarterbacks. Last year, he beat Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. This year, he beat Drew Brees and Peyton Manning on the biggest stages when it really counted. People need to start putting Russell Wilson in that category because he is an elite NFL quarterback. He’s been a pro since day one, and he’s more than half of why we’re winning now. He came in poised. You look at him now after we won a championship, and he’s still the same guy. He hasn’t let the lights get too bright for him, and he’s stayed true to himself. He’s still that same poised person.
That’s what I respect most about him. He’s going to be the same person every day.
And then there was Percy Harvin. Percy was electrifying. He’s the boost. He’s that energy. He’s our missile on offense. That end around was a thing of beauty, and the reason it worked is because we have so many players who can make a play. The defense has to account for Russell Wilson, Marshawn, Percy and our other receivers.
And when Percy returned that kickoff for a touchdown, it really did feel like we were back at CenturyLink with all the special stuff that happens there.
Our d-line played great. Malcolm Smith had a beautiful performance getting the MVP. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright brought their A-game from the linebacking corps. We all held it down on the back end.
Everyone wants to have their own impact on the game. I didn’t get the ball thrown my way, but the way I look at it, that’s just respect from the other team. Out of 266 passes this whole season, our opponents only threw it over the middle on us eight times. I feel good about that. I’m going to keep working on my craft, and keep being the best safety and the best leader I can be.
THEN WE WERE CHAMPIONS
After the game, guys were crying and hugging each other. Everybody was showing how much they appreciated what we just went through. We sat at our lockers, full uniforms still on, reminiscing about everything that led up to that point. We talked about the journey as much as the end result. I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed the ups and downs that led up to that point.
Later on, my dad sat with me at my locker. We had a great conversation about winning the Super Bowl, and how much that meant to him and my hometown of Orange, Texas. My father wanted to be in the NFL. He wanted it probably more than I wanted it.
For me to be on that big stage like that and win it, and then for him to be with me in that environment, in that moment, in the locker room after the game, with players coming up to him and telling him how much they appreciate him — that meant everything to me.
When I went to my press conference, my mom came with me, and she had tears in her eyes. As we walked out of the room, I held her tight. That was a special moment.
The whole experience, even the weeks leading up to the game were very cool. I’d always dreamed about being a part of that. It was even more than I imagined, and it kind of shocked me. There were so many cameras. They’re all right in your face. It was a great opportunity to show the world what I’m all about, and express myself on that stage.
Thinking back, there was one thing that really stuck out to me at the game: When the crowd started chanting, “L.O.B.”
My heart dropped when I heard that. The WHOLE stadium was chanting, “L.O.B! L.O.B!”
I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking, “Man, this is crazy.”
That’s what it’s all about. The fans were great, and I was so motivated by the support all week. Everywhere you looked in New York and New Jersey, you could see our colors. I saw 31 jerseys: a lot of Russell Wilson jerseys, my jersey, Sherm’s, Marshawn’s, all of them. That was great.
That’s the type of thing you just feed off.
These people came from a long way — across the country — just to see us play. They’re supporting us. They have their kids in our jersey. It definitely made me want to put on a show, and just keep that positive energy going.
We all know that Seahawks fans have suffered for a lot of years, so I wanted to do everything in my power to make it a great experience for myself, and a great experience for you. Because it’s not all about me. It’s about all of you, the 12th man.
(Come back Thursday to read the conclusion to Earl’s Super Bowl blog.)