As the Seattle Seahawks drove the length of the field in 26 seconds at the culmination of the first half of their hotly contested Super Bowl XLIX game against the New England Patriots, it seemed as if everything had fallen into place for a Seahawks’ offensive unit that had been sputtering up to that point. They would score on a Wilson pass to Chris Matthews to enter halftime with the game tied at 14 apiece. The Seahawks would carry that momentum into the 3rd quarter, scoring on a field goal and a Russell Wilson touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin.
After being up 10 points going into the 4th quarter, thanks in large part to Marshawn Lynch and Matthews, the Seahawks defense would give up two touchdowns and found themselves down by four points with the clock ticking before a miraculous falling down catch by Kearse got the Seahawks down to the Patriots' 5 yard line.
A 4 yard scamper by Lynch and the Seahawks had the Patriots right where they wanted them. Though it took him a while to get lathered up, Beast Mode was in full effect at that point and it seemed pretty obvious that head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell would come to an easy consensus and try to hammer the ball down the collective throats of the New England Patriots weary and tired defense.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl parade.
Actually, it wasn’t just a funny thing. It was inexplicable to say the least.
The Seahawks called a play that might go down as one of the most clueless, horrendous calls in the history of the Super Bowl, and maybe even the NFL. Instead of pounding it in, going play action, or even having Russell run it in on a designed play, they had him in the shotgun formation, from which he tried to force a pass to Ricardo Lockette on a slant route, only to have it intercepted by rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler.
"We thought about our personnel who were coming in the game after the first play [a 4-yard run to the 1 by Lynch on first down] when we came up short, with three wide receivers in the game [on second down]. We had thought about throwing the ball there. That was part of the reason we sent that group in. When [the Patriots] sent their goal-line guys in, I know we have the advantage on the match ups in the passing game."
"One of those downs we were likely to throw the ball and maybe two of those downs," Carroll said, "depending on how we had to save the clock to get in all of our plays. It wasn't just run the ball. That wasn't what the thought was."
The interception by Butler gave Tom Terrific and the gang the game and the Seattle faithful were sent home to cry in their collective Grande Mocha Cappuccinos.
At the moment of truth, on second down and goal from the 1 yard line, everybody and their mother believed they knew what was going to happen next; they were going to pound the ball in with Lynch. But none of that happened and, as was to be expected, the sports world is an uproar. However, what could not have been conceived is the manner in which stupidity and black-on-black racism could have been injected into the scenario from the very moment Butler said “I’m going to Disney World”.
But in America, the Land of People with Nothing Better to Do, conspiracy theories sprout from excreta as readily as mushrooms.
The final play became all about Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson’s personalities, dispositions, appearances and Blackness instead of on a brash coach who tried to outsmart the Patriots but outsmarted himself instead.
An article from NFL.com’s Michael Silver quotes an anonymous Seahawks player who buys into the Anti-Lynch, Pro-Wilson conspiracy theory.
"I’LL SPARE YOU THE NUMEROUS “WHAT THE (EXPLETIVE) WAS HE THINKING?” MUTTERINGS I OVERHEARD FROM PEOPLE IN SEAHAWKS UNIFORMS AND 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."
As a country that ranks 25th in the world in math and sciences among industrialized nations, it’s not an enormous surprise that so many people believe this. But what is a bit upsetting is the number of NFL players who believe it as well. The aforementioned “Anonymous” Seattle Seahawks player aside, many other NFL players have brought into this theory that Carroll was playing “Kingmaker” in putting the ball in Wilson’s hands as opposed to letting Lynch run it in.
The theory goes a little something like this; Coach Pete Carroll purposefully put the ball in Russell Wilson’s hands to win the game instead of handing it off to Marshawn Lynch for a myriad of absurd reasons like Marshawn Lynch’s refusal to speak to the media and Russell Wilson’s willingness to do so; Lynch’s “Blackness” and Wilson’s perceived “Whiteness” and because Pete Carroll simply loves the agreeable Wilson more and could care less for Lynch’s antics.
As conspiracy theories go, this has got to be one of the most ill-conceived, chowder headed ones I’ve heard since hearing Pop Rocks and Pepsi killed Mikey, the Life cereal kid from the 70's.
These "theories" bring several things to mind. First off, if Coach Carroll really refused to hand the ball off to Lynch for any of the aforementioned reasons then I want out of this country, immediately. It would mean that America has reached the event horizon of eternal stupidity and I don’t believe that to be the case; to be certain, we’ve passed the halfway mark though. Secondly, why would Pete Carroll essentially risk punishing the other 51 players on his active roster just to make Russell Wilson a hero? Preposterous (although ultimately, he did). Also, that play call was made by offensive coordinator Bevell not Carroll, and no, he did not change the play either as was mentioned in an ESPN.com article.
In addition, the conspiracy theory further unravels when we realize that Lynch was just given the ball at the 5 yard line and almost scored the play before. If there were some cabal aligned against Lynch’s Super Bowl MVP aspirations why would they risk him scoring the play before? Then there are those who’re saying the reason Seattle didn’t give him the ball was because Lynch is due for a huge raise after this season.
Riddle me this, dear conspiracy connoisseurs, when was the last time an NFL franchise has gone through such lengths to not pay a healthy player who just so happens to be the big part of the reason why the franchise won back-to-back NFC Championships and a Super Bowl? Crazy considering that NFL franchises throw money at individuals with far less talent on an annual basis. So in a league that gives Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears a contract worth $126 million we’re supposed to believe that the Seattle Seahawks didn’t run the ball with their 28 year old, in the midst of his prime, running back because they didn’t want to pay him NEXT YEAR? Word? Please repeat that to yourself out loud just to hear how stupid the words sound coming out of your mouth.
You seriously think a franchise would risk winning a Super Bowl for fear of paying an athlete what he rightfully deserves? If money were that much of an issue they could have just allowed him to get his Super Bowl bonus and cut him next season. Not to mention the fact that Marshawn Lynch had already been offered a significant raise over his previous salary a day before the Super Bowl.
Lastly, the most egregious and disgusting conspiracy theory element of them all is the belief that, to the Seattle Seahawks franchise, Russell Wilson represented a more fan-friendly image to than the “Too Black, Too Strong” Marshawn Lynch. This portion of the theory is being floated almost exclusively by fans and players of African descent.
This harkens back to the sad moment in October when the Bleacher Report floated a story claiming that the Seahawks’ had turned against their quarterback for not being “Black” enough or that he acts too “White”. To be certain, any Seattle Seahawks player or fan who subscribes to this line of thinking is not only brainless but despicable and deserved to see their team lose in the most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching manner imaginable. People who would readily throw their quarterback under the bus for not being “Black” enough don’t deserve a champion. They deserve disappointment because, apparently, they don’t know how to treat a champion, which is exactly what Russell Wilson was when all this crap materialized four months ago.
Is it so hard to believe that Pete Carroll and his coach staff, long known to roll the dice and take big time risks, would have tried to play it cute rather than conventional in those closing seconds? Is it so hard to believe that race and image had nothing to do with Bevell’s decision to not hand the ball off? Only if you’re dumbass.
Unfortunately, there are more than a few of those in the NFL and in the general populous as well.