February 2, 2015


The Conspiracy Theory Surrounding The Seahawks' Last Play (Dave Zirin, February 2, 2015, The Nation)

The theory goes something like this. Russell Wilson is your young clean-cut God-fearing media-perfect quarterback. If one was creating a superstar face to market for the twenty-first century, chances are they would look, sound and basically be Russell Wilson. He's Derek Jeter with a Bible, your "biracial angel" of our times. Marshawn Lynch is... Marshawn Lynch, and if you haven't figured out what that means after the past two weeks, then you haven't been paying attention.

The theory goes that there were major financial, public relations and football reasons for Russell Wilson and not Lynch to be the one who ends the game in glory. If he throws that touchdown for the victory, Wilson is almost certainly the Super Bowl MVP. He gets the commercial. He gets to stand with the commissioner. And oh, by the way, he also gets his new contract, one that will fasten his prime, at only 26 years old, to the Seattle franchise. Marshawn Lynch is also due a new contract. Marshawn Lynch, had he punched that ball over the goal line, would get to be the one handed the MVP trophy. Marshawn Lynch maybe gets on the mic to Lord knows what.

Marshawn Lynch is also playing for a new contract and will certainly get one after an awesome, iconic season. But unlike Wilson, Marcshawn Lynch turns 29 this off-season, that time when the ability of running backs tends to fall off the cliff. In Seattle's own recent history, they saw their MVP running back Shaun Alexander go seemingly overnight from superstar to someone who could barely run the ball, a football equivalent of milk left on the radiator.

The conspiracy theory lies in the fact that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll believed that the last yard the Seahawks needed for that Super Bowl victory was a gimme and, all things being equal, much better to have the iconic Super Bowl moment go to Russell Wilson than to Marshawn Lynch. The politics of race, respectability, public relations and what's in the best interest of a $2 billion corporation all played into this. That's the theory.

I contacted someone inside that locker room and they said to me as if on repeat: "Can't believe it. We all saw it. They wanted it to be Russ. They didn't want Marshawn to be the hero."

Mike Silver for the NFL network reported on these "mutterings" as well, writing that he wanted to "refrain from lending any legitimacy to the conspiracy theory which one anonymous player was willing to broach: That Carroll somehow had a vested interest in making Wilson, rather than Lynch, the hero, and thus insisted on putting the ball in the quarterback's hands with an entire season on the line. 'That's what it looked like,' the unnamed player said, but I'd be willing to bet that he merely muttered it out of frustration, and that it was a fleeting thought."

Whereas, everyone can believe Bill Belichick is exactly this smart, Malcolm In the Middle Of Biggest Plays of the Game in Patriots Super Bowl Victory (Steve Silva, 2/02/15, Boston Globe)

The ill-fated slant pass by Wilson intended for Ricardo Lockette was not only broken up by Butler, but the 24-year-old undrafted rookie picked off the pass and Tom Brady & Co. successfully ran out the clock in the game.

"I just had a jump ball on that play," Butler said. "I made a great play on the ball and when I deflected it, it remained in his hands. Just like any other play, I feel like the game was on me if we lost, but we had another play. It was goal line, three [corners on the defense] and the formation they were in with the two receiver stunt, I just knew they were doing a pick route. I knew it was on the line and we needed it, so I just beat him to the route and just made the play."

Butler saw the offense stacked to one side and stepped in from of Ricardo Lockette and made the interception heard 'round the world.

"I knew they were going to throw it," he said. "Our defensive coordinator is real smart and with a goal line, three cornerback [formation], we knew they were going to throw the ball... I saw [Russell] Wilson looking over [toward the receivers]. He kept his head still and just looked over there, so that gave me a clue, and the stacked receivers; I just knew they were going to throw. My instincts, I just went with it, just went with my mind and made the play."

Butler was asked if he was surprised that the Seahawks did not hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch in that moment.

"Yeah I am a little bit, but like I said, we were in a goal line, three corners (formation)," Butler said. "Usually in goal line there are two corners, so with three corners you know they're going to pass."

Butler said preparation and practice were keys to seeing what was coming his way.

"It was goal line, three [corners on the defense] and the formation they were in with the two receiver stunt, I just knew they were doing a pick route," he said. "I knew it was on the line and we needed it, so I just beat him to the route and just made the play."

Butler had been burned on the same play in practice this week.
Posted by at February 2, 2015 12:21 PM

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