JERSEY CITY - Why me? Why now?
That's all Percy Harvin could think of as he was led off the field three weeks ago after suffering a concussion in the Seahawks' divisional game against New Orleans. Harvin recalls screaming at his trainers in the tunnel on the way off the field, then trying to sweet talk his way back into the game.
"They took my helmet, and I kept trying to get it back," the Seahawks receiver said Thursday. "We had a moment there in the locker room, and then I realized I was going to have to wait to go back out there."
Harvin's wait finally will be over Sunday when the Seahawks meet the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Harvin has been labeled the mysterious X-factor in the game, given that the former Viking has played only 39 snaps in two games as a Seahawk because of offseason hip surgery and the concussion that knocked him out of the playoff game.
It's not a label Harvin particularly likes, because he doesn't think he's exactly an unknown quantity. "This is not my first rodeo," he said. "I've played in a lot of football games and I've been effective at doing that."
Effective may be the understatement of the week. Harvin possesses a tantalizing mix of speed and elusiveness and can be a big-time playmaker when healthy. In four seasons as a Viking, he amassed 3,302 yards receiving, 683 rushing, 3,183 in returns and 29 touchdowns. The Seahawks had big plans for him when they signed him to a six-year, $67-million contract last offseason.
"He's a terrific football player," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "With the dynamics of the tremendous speed that he has, the intensity he brings when the ball's in his hands, how he carries it. He runs like a running back. He's unusually aggressive and he's such a versatile athlete, that you have a lot of opportunities to do different things with him."
So many different things, it seems Denver isn't quite sure how to prepare for him. "We don't really have a lot of film on him," Broncos cornerback Quentin Jammer said.
Added cornerback Champ Bailey: "I can only imagine with two weeks of preparation, they're going to use him. I wouldn't doubt it because he's a special player."
A special player who couldn't be happier to be back on the field. Harvin said this season has been an emotional roller coaster as he worked his way back from surgery in August to repair a torn labrum. Harvin credited teammates, family and a childhood friend, Ronte Johnson, for getting him through what he said were some emotionally tough times.
Although Harvin said he doesn't feel any pressure to justify his contract, he said he would like to have a big game for all the people who supported him over the past year.
"I want to go out and do the things I was brought here to do,'' Harvin said. "I'm not looking to pay anything back. I'm looking to play a great game and try to make some plays for my teammates. Just being out there with them gives me joy."