The Super Bowl coaches made their last scheduled media appearance Friday morning, fielding questions in a joint press conference at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Patriots coach Bill Belichick shared the stage and bantered back and forth for more than 30 minutes, repeatedly discussing their contrast in styles and philosophies.
No real news came out of it.
Carroll got off perhaps the best line of the day, when asked what the Seahawks would do if Richard Sherman’s girlfriend went in to labor on game day.
Carroll said the decision to play in the Super Bowl or not would fall to Sherman, and that the coach would stand by whatever the decision may be.
Then Carroll added, “I can’t wait to see lil’ Petey!”
The coaches opposite views were prevalent from the start, with Carroll talking about how much fun the Seahawks have had preparing for the Super Bowl and Belichick declaring “fun” was not the first word that came to mind.
Belichick praised Carroll as a coach and Seattle as an organization. He said no team in the NFL plays the game from start to finish better than the Seahawks.
“The Seattle Seahawks are a great football organization,” he said. “They’re strong in every area. Everyone knows how much respect I have for the Seahawks, and Pete and the job that they do.”
Carroll returned the compliments, pointing out repeatedly how impressed he was with the Patriots sustained success under Belichick.
Both men were asked about how the refs will signal eligible and ineligible receivers in the Super Bowl, and if the NFL has handled those situations correctly in the past.
Carroll said Thursday that the league had assured him they would make it a point of emphasis.
On Friday, Belichick had a quick response.
“That’s not my job,” he said.
He went on to say, “Whatever the officials do, that’s their protocol, and their mechanics of it, as far as I’m concerned, you should direct that question to the league.”
Carroll said he was not worried about it, either.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “We expect that they’ll do a great job.”
Carroll went on to praise Belichick and the Patriots for their innovation.
Reporters continued to ask Carroll about his time in New England, and the Seahawks coach continued to talk about how important that time was for him.
“I did spend three really good years in New England, and had a great time when I was there,” Carroll said. “Probably the thing I take away from it the most is the fans, the following, how sincere they are. How much they want you to do well and how much they’ll let you know when you don’t.
“Bill hasn’t had to feel much of that,” Carroll said, drawing a bit of a laugh.
But Carroll added that things have changed since his time with the Patriots.
“The years at (USC) were so fun,” he said. “And to take the approach to the NFL and see how it would go with you. To treat people, and make them feel like you really do care for them … it’s been a really exciting, fun time.”
Carroll drew another laugh when talking about being fired by both the Jets and Patriots.
“My therapist tells me I should always talk about it,” he said. “Don’t hide from it.”
The overall tenor of the press conference was light. Both men fawned praise on each other and their teams.
Carroll was relaxed and engaging. Belichick spoke seriously and in monotone.
No “bulletin board” material was offered, and both coaches steered clear of awkward moments.
It was a feel-good, happy presser … and it should be the last of its kind before the big game.