LB LOFA TATUPU
How do you feel about being thought of as a ‘No-Name Defense”?
“I don’t think anyone relishes being unknown. I think we’re a scrappy bunch. We’re a bunch of fighters. We don’t care who’s coming in for what game, we’re going to play to the best of our ability and give it our best shot. We play for each other and just play team ball.”
HEAD COACH MIKE HOLMGREN
Could you talk about the lack of respect espoused by both teams?
“I think both teams are pretty good. I think both teams deserve to be here. We have tremendous respect for the Steelers and what they have accomplished. Players, coaches, and organizations have nothing to do with who is the favorite and who is not the favorite. I think there is mutual respect. What they have done to get to the Super Bowl is remarkable, going on the road and winning those games. And I’m proud of my guys, so it should be a great football game.”
Does Shaun Alexander being nice play into a perception that he isn’t tough?
“I think that might be part of it, to be honest. He is a good fellow and he doesn’t curse and he is a nice man and you kind of wonder how a guy like that can be a real tough guy in a football game. But the other part of that may have been my fault because this is the first year I have used him all the time in short yardage running situations. Before, we had another back doing that. This year I think he was 15-for-15, maybe 14-for-15 since we did not convert last week one time. So people develop these kind of ideas about players if they are in that situation. He is an elusive runner. You don’t often see people get tremendous shots at him as opposed to more of a straight line guy who piles it up in there and there is a big explosion every time. I think people look at that and say, ‘We know he gains 1,800 yards and we know he scored 28 touchdowns or whatever, but what is it about the way he runs that is a little different?’ Then they take it to the next step. I really think that is unfair and I know it is not true.”
How have you used the underdog role with your team?
“Respect is a word players use a lot and people use a lot and it could have any number of meanings to whoever is using it. In my opening remarks to my team this year, I wanted to make sure my team knew what I meant when I used the word ‘respect’ and what I think respect means in our business. I came to them from an idea of mutual respect, either player to player, coach to player, player to fan, player on one team to player on another team. To respect the guy who you are playing across from because he is working just as hard as you are working, and you know how hard you are working. But don’t use the term loosely or lightly. We hit the crossbar against Washington early on and then we lost the game to Green Bay at the end when it was a different type of football game. Otherwise there was a chance we could have won 15 in a row or something and that is hard to do in this business.
Yet, I think because of where Seattle is located and the television exposure that we get, I think that not a lot of people know what kind of a football team we have. As I’ve told the team, ‘That’s OK because ultimately you’ll be judged by what happens and where you are at the end of the season.’ I understand why we are the underdogs and there’s really only one way to handle that and it’s not by talking, it’s by playing the game and seeing what happens. That’s kind of the point I’ve been making all season to the team. It’s easy to talk about those things. Let’s do it and let our record speak for itself and then when it’s all over, see where you line up.”
QB MATT HASSELBECK
How do you feel about being the underdog in Super Bowl XL?
“People around the country say that the AFC is strong and the NFC is weak. Whatever. They (Pittsburgh) want to wear white, wear white. Either way, we have a football game on Sunday and we’ve got to go play football.”
Does the underdog issue motivate you?
“There is a little bit of motivation when people don’t believe in you and there are people who don’t believe in our team. There are people who say they are not that good. That is a little bit of a motivating factor, but it is not something we are hung up on.”
RB SHAUN ALEXANDER
Does it bother you that the Seahawks are underdogs?
“I think we’ve all decided that we don’t really care what label they give us. Our goal is to get to the Super Bowl and play the best game of our life. It’s been the same, whether we’re the favorite or underdogs, the last three weeks. It’s been the same thing: Get out there and play your best game.”
Does the talk about you being soft come from the fact that you’re a nice guy?
“I think that it usually happens before the game, but then after the game it’s a little bit different.”
Who do you think is more recognizable, yourself or Kobe Bryant (who was in Detroit to play the Pistons tonight the night that the Seahawks arrived)?
“I definitely think Kobe Bryant, because I might still be called Tiki Barber a little bit. Kobe scored 81 points, and I was just asking the guys the other day, ‘How do you score 81 points?’ ”
DE BRYCE FISHER
How are you handling the underdog status?
“The great thing about our team is that we don’t care one bit about what the so called ‘experts’ have to say. The people on ESPN, NFL Network, the people who get paid to be right, don’t have anything invested in our team and our season. We know how much work we have put in. The betting line has nothing to do with us.”
WR DARRELL JACKSON
Do you think Seahawks wide receivers get the credit you deserve?
“We have really never gotten the credit we deserve. I don’t even think we get the credit we deserve in Seattle. I think we’ve just been overshadowed by, you know, we’ve had an MVP candidate in Shaun Alexander, we have Matt Hasselbeck with Mike Holmgren bringing him over from Green Bay. Then we had some problems being labeled as not being able to hold onto the ball and drops. So I don’t really think we got the full credit being a wide receiver group that we should.
We have had a lot of people in our wide receiver group: Derrick Mays, Sean Dawkins, Koren Robinson, Bobby Engram, Jerry Rice, Joe Jurevicius, Peter Warrick, D.J. Hackett, James Williams, Jason Willis, Taco Wallace, Jerheme Urban. All these guys like that who competed with us and we did a job but somebody has to take the blame somewhere.”
Talk about the lack of respect involved in being labeled an underdog as the top seed in the NFL to the bottom seed in the AFC.
“That is how our whole season has been going. No one wants to give us credit. I don’t really think anyone wants to see us here. Maybe because we’re not a big metropolitan media area… having the second-best record in the NFL and still being labeled the underdog for this game is kind of ridiculous but we’ll take it. That is how the whole season has been. That is the same thing that was said when the Washington Redskins came in to play us as well as the Carolina Panthers - that we didn’t have a chance and now we are in the big show so we’ll take everything in stride.”