EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When asked this week to identify the team he thought would win Super Bowl XLVIII, ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer waffled.
“Everything on paper makes me want to pick Denver, but my heart can’t get over the soul of the Seahawks,” Dilfer said. “They (the Seahawks) have what I call competitive poise. It’s almost like the bigger the moment gets, the quieter their minds get. Everyone (in Seattle) feels like they have a huge chip on their shoulder.”
We’ve heard a lot this week about Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril — guys that were either low draft picks or cast aside by the rest of the league before landing with the Seattle Seahawks. Dilfter likely had those players in mind when he made the above statement.
We can only assume Dilfer did not have the following players in mind:
Denver Broncos’ underdogs
Offense: Wes Welker (undrafted), Julius Thomas (fourth round draft pick), Chris Clark (undrafted), Manny Ramierz (not that Manny Ramirez — fourth round draft pick)
Defense: Malik Jackson (fifth round draft pick), Terrance Knighton (cut by the 2-14 Jaguars), Shaun Phillips (fourth round and cut by the 7-9 Chargers), Wesley Woodyard (undrafted), Danny Trevathan (sixth round draft pick), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (cut by the 5-11 Cardinal and the 4-12 Eagles), Duke Ihenacho (undrafted), Mike Adams (undrafted)
Seattle Seahawks’ not-exactly underdogs
Offense: Marshawn Lynch (first round draft pick), Russell Okung (first round draft pick), James Carpenter (first round draft pick), Max Unger (second round draft pick), Golden Tate (second round draft pick), Zach Miller (second round draft pick, and got a $34 million deal to come to Seattle), Russell Wilson (third round draft pick)
Defense: Bruce Irvin (first round draft pick), Earl Thomas (first round draft pick), Bobby Wagner (second round draft pick), Brandon Mebane (third round draft pick), Cliff Avril (third round draft pick and got a $13 million deal to come to Seattle)
So about half of the Seahawks’ 22 starting players were taken in the third round or higher and/or were given huge contracts to come to Seattle, and about half of the Broncos’ 22 starters were taken in the fourth round or later and/or signed mid- or low-level deals to come to Denver after getting released by bad teams.
With those facts on the table, it becomes a little harder to imagine why the Seahawks should feel more slighted or as if they have more to prove than the Broncos.
But perhaps the better question is this: Should either team really feel slighted at all?
At the beginning of this season, most pundits like Dilfer were picking the Broncos and one of two teams from the NFC West — be it the San Francisco 49ers or the Seahawks — to wind up in the Super Bowl. So it’s not like anyone has been consistently doubting either team or picking against them all year. Quite the opposite, in fact.
But the thing about athletes is that they always seem to find a way to manufacture a chip on their shoulder, regardless of whether it’s actually there.
Case in point: Peyton Manning broke every NFL passing record this year, got his team to the Super Bowl, was just named the league’s MVP, and yet still gets visibly agitated when he’s hassled about not winning the “big game,” especially in the cold.
And so the question remains: Will the proverbial “chip on the shoulder” be something that propels a team to a Super Bowl victory? Or should we be giving this notion the cold shoulder?
Vote in our poll above to weigh in.