Dick Vermeil was one of the nicest guys in football, he was also one of the first coaches to suffer from the stresses of the job when he suffered an apparent nervous breakdown during his coaching career. John Fox's illness, this year, was also a stress related one when he missed 29 days in the middle of the season and underwent surgery to fix his ticker.
We can only imagine the amount of time, pressure, energy, emotion and thought that goes into a Superbowl run and the last time that John Fox went to the Superbowl was when he led the Carolina Panthers to a showdown against the Pats in Superbowl XXXVIII. He had Jake Delhomme as his quarterback then, this time he has Peyton Manning so while it was Delhomme who was possibly the reason for high blood pressure last time, I'm sure this time around it won't be his QB making his blood pressure soar.
Pete Carroll, on the other hand, is the care free kind of guy that only Southern California can produce. He spent his time at University of Southern California, developing NFL ready quarterbacks that, again, only Southern Cal can produce. Quarterbacks like Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart before finally being lured up the coast and into Seattle to revive a franchise that was largely on its knees.
There is a line in a Dawes song that I love and it goes, "the only point in looking back is to see how far we've come", so let's take a look back at both coaches and the last time they appeared in the Superbowl.
While it is largely unfair to compare anyone or anything to Manning's Superman like season, it is interesting to compare to a point. John Fox's QB in Superbowl XXXVIII, Jake Delhomme, went undrafted while this year's QB Payton Manning was destined for greatness which started by going number 1 in the 1999 draft. Delhomme threw for only 19 TD's in the 16 games (he didn't start one) prior to the playoffs in 2003 and also had 16 interceptions while Manning didn't just break but shattered records on the way to a 55 touchdown, 10 interception season this year.
The ending of the Fox-Delhomme partnership came in 2010 in an emotional setting that saw both Delhomme and Fox well up in front of cameras when talking about the split. Fox moved on the pastures new after a productive if not successful time in Carolina where he struggled with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow before landing Manning in a deal that, if it were not for Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, would be making the Colts look rather foolish right now.
Fox has already disposed of the Patriots, who beat Carolina in Superbowl XXXVIII and now face a Pete Carroll led Seattle team who last appeared in a Superbowl in the 2005 season.
Long before Marshawn Lynch, there was a man by the name of Shaun Alexander in Seattle, who was as ferocious as he was elusive and in Superbowl XL, he gained 95 rushing yards on 20 carries. Seattle lost that Superbowl on a trick play by the Pittsburgh Steelers to again deny the Seahawks a chance of a Lombardi Trophy. Seattle have never won a Superbowl, so if you're inclined to root for underdogs, then the Seahawks are your team. As somewhat of a sidenote, the last non-QB to win a Superbowl MVP was Santonio Holmes in SB XLIII between the Steelers and Cardinals, but all point sign in the direction of a QB winning this one too.
While Delhomme was being sacked in Carolina, Pete Carroll was being hired in Seattle and he has done huge things with this franchise from drafting Russell Wilson who was deemed "too small" to make it in the NFL, to turning their defense, nicknamed "The Legion of Boom," into one of the best the NFL has ever seen. Richard Sherman is possibly the greatest trash-talker the NFL has ever seen and although Carroll has a quick tongue, I'm pretty sure he didn't have much to do with this.
While the media day and its participants devour every word, tweet and article written on the showcase, what really happens and matters is on the field. It has been seven years since Peyton won his first ring and on that occasion he won the MVP honours to boot, while Russell Wilson is only in his second year as a pro. With a game of this magnitude it will depend on which team can perform better under pressure and that is largely reliant on both the coaches and the quarterbacks. Pete Carroll supposedly loves pressure while John Fox succumbed to the pressure with his heart problems earlier in the year and while Russell Wilson has really looked the part since arriving in the NFL, you would have to give the edge to Manning and his 15 years of experience in the league.
Can Pete Carroll turn Seattle into Superbowl winners, at last, or does Payton Manning have a few more tricks up his sleeve? Either way, John Fox better keep an eye on his blood pressure because it is going to be a close one.