Pete Carroll is spending this week trying to figure out how to stop Peyton Manning. But in the what-coulda-been universe of football, there is an alternate reality in which Carroll and Manning could have found themselves on the same team.
Just when you finally have become comfortable seeing Manning in a Broncos uniform instead of Colts blue, try to imagine him in the neon greens and deep navies of the Seahawks.
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The two sides were never very close to a deal, but there was some flirtation between the future Hall of Famer and the Seahawks when Manning was a free agent during the 2012 offseason.
"He called me, so that was good,'' Carroll said Friday of the preliminary feeling-out process. "He called us and that was a good start. From there, it went downhill. I did not do a very good job on the phone.''
Perhaps. But it was well known that Manning was looking for a franchise with the ability to compete for a championship right off the bat. He seemed to have the Seahawks pegged pretty good on that matter.
So why didn't Manning go to the land of Starbucks and grunge? It could be any number of reasons. There were reports at the time that he wanted to avoid playing in the NFC so he would not have to go through the ordeal of facing his brother Eli with the Giants as regularly. The Seahawks certainly were not as loaded at wide receiver as the Broncos were, and they were (and continue to be) more committed to the run with Marshawn Lynch.
Manning also hit it off with Broncos president John Elway, largely considered a determining factor.
Or maybe he just likes orange better than blue.
Whatever the reasons, both sides have done OK for themselves in the two seasons since, as shown by their meeting in the Super Bowl.
"I haven't spent much time on that since we moved on,'' Carroll said when asked if he ever wondered what it would be like to coach Manning. "It's kind of interesting that we're playing against him at this point. We wound up with Russell [Wilson] and they wound up with Peyton, so it's pretty cool.''
The Seahawks drafted Wilson a few months after Manning signed with the Broncos. He became their starting quarterback at the beginning of his rookie season, winning the job despite being selected in the third round.
Carroll did not hesitate when asked if the team would have drafted Wilson even if they had signed Manning.
"Yes,'' he said.
"Knowing what I know now,'' he said, "we would have taken him a little bit higher.''
Notes & quotes: Carroll said WR Percy Harvin (hip, concussion) will not be limited in preparation for the Super Bowl. "Not a bit,'' he said. "He's ready to go and he'll be fully involved.'' . . . Carroll played along with the hysteria over the weather for Super Bowl Sunday. Asked about the NFL's ability to move the game, he quipped: "Are we gonna play in Philly?'' When asked if he has backup plans in case the NFL moves the date of the game, he deadpanned: "Very in-depth, thorough contingency planning is at hand right now.'' It is not. "The weather is going to be good,'' he said. "It's going to be clear and cold. It's going to be nice.'' . . . Carroll called his season as head coach of the Jets "all but an interim type of situation.'' He was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach in 1994 and held the position for one season. "It happened very suddenly, without any preparation for that to occur,'' he said. "Sometimes I think it kind of looked like that.''