7. Robert Turbin
Fact: If I had to pick one of Seattle’s top two running backs to fight in a drained swimming pool, I’d pick Marshawn Lynch. I’d pick this guy to fight.
That’s because of Robert Turbin’s arms. Are you aware of Robert Turbin’s arms? Look at these barrels extending from his shoulders:
Those arms belong in some over-photoshopped Facebook ad selling “one neat trick to give you huge biceps.” Robert Turbin makes Scott Steiner look like Screech. America needs to be aware of this man’s arms, because they’re a national treasure and, potentially, an international tourist attraction.
Turbin’s also world class in the “awesome human being” category, and he came from some pretty remarkable circumstances. He had a sister who died at the age of 21 from multiple sclerosis, another sister who has cerebral palsy and is paralyzed from the waist down, and a heroin-addict of a brother who was shot and killed at age 35, just months before Turbin was drafted.
An unlikely candidate for MVP, yes, but a bad-ass in every sense of the term. If anyone’s going to come out of nowhere and earn the spotlight and the other considerations that come with being the Super Bowl MVP, it would be very gratifying if it was Robert Turbin.
6. Terrance Knighton
Nickname: Pot Roast. Would you say that between “Beast Mode” and “Pot Roast,” Super Bowl XLVIII is home to the NFL’s two best current nicknames? I guess “Megatron” is in the conversation, but I’ve got it third.
Anyway, “Pot Roast” is enough for me, but I’ll also mention that Knighton is the lynchpin of a Denver defense that’s giving up just 3.8 yards per carry in the playoffs, and 3.5 a carry over its last four games. For comparison’s sake, Seattle is giving up (and I’m going to subtract Colin Kaepernick’s 11 carries for 130 yards in these numbers, because Denver really hasn’t had to deal with anything like that) 3.5 a carry in the playoffs, too.
Knighton actually being named MVP is near an impossibility, because he’s not an offensive skill position player, but there isn’t much more important to Denver than keeping Marshawn Lynch from punishing the clock.
5. Richard Sherman
I’d really like for the Disney people to have to decide if Richard Sherman can be the guy to go to Disney World. Actually, I’m sure they’ve already decided that ‒ I want the Disney people to have to explain why Richard Sherman couldn’t be the guy to go to Disney World.
4. Champ Bailey
These things are nice: Bailey’s a 15-year veteran, 12-time Pro Bowler, 7-time All Pro, and member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade team. He’s universally respected, and despite his Hall of Fame career, this is his first shot at a Super Bowl. Those things make an MVP for Bailey a lovely sentiment.
He’s also been thrust into one hell of a tough situation. He’s not the athlete he was five years ago and has been hurt all year. And this is after last year’s postseason, where Bailey was not spectacular in Denver’s loss to eventual champs Baltimore.
Then when Chris Harris went down, Bailey was suddenly thrust into a major role in the AFC Championship game against New England, where he could’ve been ‒ and could also be again on Sunday ‒ walking a really fine line between “grizzled veteran who came up with one last burst of greatness” and “old man who can’t play anymore.” It really could go either way.
Against New England, he was fine. The Patriots chose not to attack him much. We’ll see what Seattle tries, and if Champ can win with some old man tricks.
3. Derrick Coleman
Is this the sweetest week of Super Bowl hype that’s ever existed? There’s Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman exchanging respectful jabs, this lady and her sweet son, puppies and horses sharing a special bond, and this ‒ my goodness, this:
What, I’m supposed to not cry at that? Were those girls manufactured in some kind of top-secret adorable little girl laboratory, where they’ve discovered the perfect ratio of blondeness, teeth in an awkward stage, and brightly-smiling friendliness? Did Duracell make those girls?
Imagine Coleman somehow winning the MVP, and accepting the trophy after he pulls those two girls out of the stands to come be with him on the podium. Honestly, I would never be the same.
2. Peyton Manning
I root for greatness. It’s the reason I want Kobe Bryant to win another title, the reason I came around on LeBron James, the reason I want the old Tiger Woods to resurface, the reason I love watching Floyd Mayweather pick people art, and the reason I want someone who is good at hockey to do some kind of good hockey thing.
As far as current athletes go, who’s as great as Peyton Manning? It’s a short list. Regardless of whether he gets this ring or not, he’s as great as great gets ‒ a top three all-time quarterback, and again, that’s with or without this ring. You can’t go wrong rooting for greatness to get its due.
1. Marshawn Lynch
Silence itself has been on trial this week. A win for Marshawn Lynch would be a win for those who occasionally value silence.
Throughout the week’s league-mandated Super Bowl media sessions, Lynch has not been terribly forthcoming with his thoughts and opinions, which sort of seems like a person’s inherent right, if not, in fact, a genetic trait.
Some people got mad about that because they needed to write stories, and ironically, their anger turned Lynch’s relative silence into the only real story that’s developed this week. It also spawned the hands-down funniest thing to come out of Super Bowl week, the response of the Pro Football Writers of America.
Here’s a snippet, and I didn’t edit it, I swear. It was this bitchy when they released it.
Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions.
We find the statement by the league that “Players are required to participate and he participated” to be an affront to our membership.
However, we are encouraged that the league will continue to closely monitor this situation.
Generally speaking, I feel like the popularization of terms like “U MAD BRO?” and “butthurt” is awful, but this week, as I look at that PFWA reaction, I am so glad they exist.
Silence is a right we afford to criminals, even if they’re caught on camera, in front of witnesses, perpetrating the most heinous crimes. If nine police officers see you injecting black tar heroin into a kitten’s mouth in the moments immediately after you’ve sold national defense secrets to the Chinese, the first thing they do, after they handcuff you, is to tell you that it’s perfectly okay for you to be silent. Really, it’s fine. Don’t say a word. It’s better for everybody. Shhhh.
That is, unless you’re a Skittles-loving running back, I guess, in which case the Pro Football Writers Association of America will go home, unlock their diaries, and write in glittery ink that you’re a mean jerkface.
Silence is human. When you’re seeking to take away a man’s right to remain reserved and quiet, it might also be a good time for you to reconsider your expectations of other people.
I hope Lynch breaks off a game-winning, game-ending run that makes the original Beast Quake look like a nude frolic through soap bubbles, and then refuses to say a word about it for the rest of his life. Go silence.