Super Bowl four years in the making for Pete Carroll and Seattle Seahawks
As far as Pete Carroll is concerned, it's not Super Bowl Sunday. It's not even Super Bowl Week or a Super Bowl Year.
Yes, the game will be played Sunday. But Carroll started laying the groundwork for a championship culture when he arrived in Seattle in 2010, and now, almost four full seasons later, it's paying off.
The planning that went into getting the Seahawks here has been evolving, and given the magnitude of what they are trying to accomplish, it couldn't have happened any other way.
"I don't think you could ever get a team ready if you just all of a sudden start talking about it the week or two weeks before," Carroll said. "They would never have the background. We've been preparing for this moment for years. The fact that we made it here and our guys are handling it well is a statement that they've been listening, but we still have the game to play, and we'll find out what that means."
Seattle is the city farthest away from any other NFL team. Perhaps Charles Darwin would have theorized that such isolation has allowed the Seahawks to evolve differently from any other franchise. They even speak their own dialect. They have mottos such as "Seahawks 24/7" to remind each other that they need to be committed to their jobs, and cute nicknames for practices such as "Competition Wednesdays," "Turnover Thursdays" and "No Repeat Fridays."
They don't even call their fans "fans." They are "12s." As in the 12th Man, the extra advantage the roaring masses give to the Seahawks at home games and many of their long-distance road trips.
"Our language, since the first meeting we had when we arrived, was to get to this point," Carroll said. "It was to talk about the preparation it would take, to be mindfully ready to be available for this opportunity, and to make the most of it when it comes."
It's here now.
The Seahawks not only are inexperienced on their roster but are looking to become only the third team founded after Super Bowl I at the end of the 1966 season to win the big game. The Bucs (1976) and Saints (1967) are the others.
Seattle has been to one other Super Bowl, a forgettable game against the Steelers eight years ago. That was a different regime, though. A different mind-set.
"Even without the result of the game, we've come a long way," Carroll said. "They do understand that this is a rare opportunity, and we have to handle this very well and find the humility so that we can deal with it properly and perform like we're capable. It's been a fun journey to see this happen with a bunch of young guys, and I'm really anxious to see how they handle game day when it comes around."
What they have handled well has been the expectations. Ever since they lost in last year's NFC divisional round, the Seahawks have been considered a strong candidate to make it to this year's Super Bowl. To get through that, they relied on those cornerstones that Carroll had placed.
"With a young team, it was really important for our guys to be quiet, listen, watch and learn so that we could feel normal in the moments that would come our way," he said. "So that we could be ourselves and perform like we're capable. This is the ultimate challenge to do that once again."
If they meet it, they'll be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy tomorrow. But not just for the day. Just like the planning that went into it, the legacy that a championship would leave would last for years and years.
There may not be a word in Carroll's unique vocabulary to describe the kind of joy that would bring to the players, the coaches and all the 12s of the Pacific Northwest.
Perhaps, like the Seahawks themselves, the language simply will evolve.