NEW YORK — Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Denver coach John Fox shared a stage Friday morning. But it was the object between the two that stood out — the shiny Lombardi Trophy.
“The trophy really does symbolize the ultimate challenge,” Carroll said.
Talking for the final time before Sunday’s Super Bowl, Carroll and Fox were in a playful mood. At one point, Fox explained the impact of John Elway’s talk to the team after Denver’s loss to Seattle in an exhibition game.
“He lit into them pretty good,” Fox said. “Hopefully — can I say pissed off on this? — yeah, I hope he pissed them off a little bit.”
To which Carroll said, “John, you can’t say that.”
Another time, Carroll went on a tangent before stopping himself. “Could you say that question again?” he said. “I have no clue what you just asked.”
Carroll and Fox both gushed about different aspects of the other’s team.
Fox said the Seahawks “probably have the most talented secondary in the league. I’m talking about across the board, not just one guy.”
In response, Carroll said, “We’d like to have their points. How many points did you score? About 800?”
So much of the two-week buildup has been about Seattle’s top-ranked defense squaring off against Denver’s top-ranked offense. That appetizing matchup has dominated conversation.
“Rightfully so,” Fox said, but the Denver coach then offered a counterpoint.
“Your star players have to be great in championship games,” he said. “There haven’t been very many championships won in any sport where your big players didn’t play big. But there always seems to be the unknown guy that makes a critical play. Lord knows where it’s going to come from.”
Said Carroll: “It will be interesting to see if that’s the story: Is it our defense versus their offense? I don’t really don’t believe that’s what it’s going to be.”
The two teams bring different levels of leadership into the game. The Broncos are led by Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey, two veterans who have combined to play 31 seasons in the league.
“You need players like that leading the charge because you really can’t do it by yourself,” Fox said.
The Seahawks are led in part by Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson, who have played a combined six seasons.
“In contrast somewhat, we’re a very, very young team,” Carroll said. “We have a bunch of guys who are growing up together … It’s interesting to see how different we can be in the makeups of our teams.”
Those contrasts in style and substance will be on display Sunday now that the talking is over.