Parity remains: Taming the only Super Bowl takeaway

Parity remains: Taming the only Super Bowl takeaway
February 4, 2014, 7:30 am
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He has become the guy everyone thought Harbaugh would become -- the coach you grudgingly acknowledged is at the top of the game.
Ray Ratto on Pete Carroll

The effects of a Super Bowl victory are long-ranging and wildly impermanent, all at the same time. And that is because the truest thing about the Super Bowl is that it is largely wasted upon an audience that always needs it to mean more while still hoping that it means less than it actually does.

Two days after re-defining the curb-stomp for 111 million people, the Seattle Seahawks are indeed All That, a budding dynasty, the greatest defense ever, a schoolhouse full of geniuses and athletic savants who knew everything there is to know about everything and manifested it pretty much at will. And the killing thing is that nobody has a compelling argument to the contrary. That’s what a five-touchdown win in the Super Bowl will get you.

[REWIND: Seahawks rout Broncos 43-8, win first Super Bowl]

Except that there is one, and it is this: The National Football League demands and even mandates regression to the mean, and between the salary cap/a champion’s desire to be paid while the paying is good, systematized schedule jiggering, the capriciousness of injury and the unpredictability of blind luck, it usually gets what it wants. Hey, these are people who charged $21 for a mug of hot chocolate, and got it. They are not to be trifled with, Jack.

In sum, the Seahawks may not be a budding dynasty at all, but the latest in a succession of teams that couldn’t lift the piano up that second flight of stairs. Nobody knows, and no projection from February can help in the following January.

But there is one thing that can be banked upon as the Seahawks march bravely into the exciting new world of “Well, What Have You Got For Us Now That You Showed Us Everything?” and that is Pete Carroll as rehabilitated mastermind.

He failed in Boston and New York, thrived in Los Angeles (though he got posterized twice by his once-and-always bête noire, Jim Harbaugh) and after being mocked for returning to the league above his station now owns it as only a winner can. Analysts marvel at the seamlessness of his defense, whistle in admiration at his creation from whole cloth of the Russell Wilson phenomenon, and they even grudgingly acknowledge that his ways of connecting with his players work with the most important audience there is -- the players.

He has, in short, become the guy everyone thought Harbaugh would become -- the coach you grudgingly acknowledged is at the top of the game.

It isn’t nearly that simple, of course, because coaches are no more islands than quarterbacks are. They work with general managers, who work with scouts, who work with . . . well, you get it. A football organization is both Russian doll and Lego set, where credit is best when it is not compartmentalized but viewed as a series of interlocking parts.

But interlocking parts suck, because it means that snap judgments and grandiose assumptions cannot be made, and what is the Super Bowl if not that?

So Pete Carroll is now the baddest dude in the room, the way Wilson is, and general manager John Schneider is, and even owner Paul Allen is, even in a town where he has mostly been mocked in the past for being the little billionaire who couldn’t. He is now America’s Leadership Icon, Bob The Builder for football teams, and best of all, he has added the most important word to the most used sentence in the American language:

“I hate the guy, BUT . . .” The “but” is everything. The “but” wins the hand, and the “but” can last forever. Just ask Bill Belichick.

As for the rest of it, the Seahawks now get to play the 17-game schedule next year, and the 17th opponent is “fortune.” They may not have needed luck on Sunday, but they needed it at other times in the 2013 season. Without it, we are lauding someone else, perhaps even John Fox, who is currently being pilloried for being underprepared for the big test.

And in the wake of a Denver win, we are also up to our necks in stupid Peyton Manning’s legacy arguments. The best thing about the way Seattle won Sunday is that nobody has the stomach for that particular debate any more, save television producers who need to kill airtime and viewers’ wills.

[RELATED: The laziness of the legacy narrative]

And unlike football reputations, television producers and their insatiable need to feed the beast last forever.

Damn it.


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