By Danny O’Neil
NEW YORK – The stage was literal on Friday morning, the two Super Bowl coaches seated on director’s chairs at the Rose Theater at 60th and Broadway.
Pete Carroll and John Fox, two men now fully grey, whose coaching roots extended back into the secondary yet who lead two teams that are defined by their differences. The Broncos and their league-best offense against the Seahawks and their league-leading defense.
“There’s only going to be one happy camper at the end,” John Fox said as he and Pete Carroll met with the media Friday for the final time before Super Bowl XLVIII. (AP)
Friday’s press conference was the last media availability before Sunday’s Super Bowl, one last time to throw verbal bouquets at each other on everything from the quality of their teams to the fact that Fox compared his comeback from heart surgery to replace a valve to an ankle injury that requires a four-week recovery.
“Can I just say, what a stud,” Carroll said. “He’s comparing open-heart surgery to an ankle sprain.”
But the biggest question comes down to what is being billed as a classic matchup between the Broncos and their record-setting offense and the Seahawks defense that has allowed the fewest points in the league in each of the past two years.
“At the end of the day, this is a team game,” Fox said. “In my mind, there’s three phases of the game.”
In fact, each coach was asked what he admired most about the opponent. Fox cited Seattle’s defense, the length and speed and especially the secondary, which he called the best in the league. Carroll was more specific.
“We’d like to have their points,” he said. “How many did you score, about 800?”
Nope, “only” 606.
“If we had those points, our defense could play pretty well,” Carroll said. “That would help us.”
Cue the laugh track for one final press conference as the two coaches sat together on either side of the trophy that their teams will play for.
“It’s the pinnacle for probably everybody that does what we do,” Fox said. “Something that you work very hard – as Pete mentioned earlier – you take individuals and you try to paint a picture of where you want to get to. And I think this is the pinnacle.
“Like all different levels of football, there’s only going to be one happy camper at the end. That’s going to be the team hoisting that trophy.”
The Seahawks practiced at the Giants’ facility in East Rutherford, N.J. this week, opening the doors and turning the temperature down to 32 degrees to try and acclimate to the conditions expected for Sunday’s Super Bowl while the Broncos worked out at the Jets’ complex in Florham Park.
And on Sunday, the game will be decided as a pair of former defensive-back coaches compete to see who’ll stop the other team’s passing game.
“It is an offensive era that we’re in, it seems,” Carroll said. “With all the passing game, it has gone crazy. Maybe it’s fitting. We’ve been fighting our whole life to try and slow the thing down and now we get to do it on a big stage.”