NEW YORK CITY – They wouldn't touch the Lombardi Trophy.
Each coach had a different strategy. Seattle's Pete Carroll stood with his hands behind his back. Denver's John Fox chose to go with his hands in his pockets. They stood behind the trophy for a photo opportunity before their joint press conference started. But no fingerprints on it.
Neither man has won a Super Bowl as a head coach. Maybe it was superstition or they just felt awkward grabbing the trophy in that moment, but they ensured that the first time either one touches the trophy this week, it will count.
"It's the pinnacle for everybody that does what we do," Fox said. "You take individuals and you paint picture of where you want to get to, and this is the pinnacle of that. Like different levels of football, there's only one happy camper, and that's the team hoisting that trophy."
"The trophy really does symbolize the ultimate challenge in competitiveness in our sport," Carroll said. "To dream about getting to this position, as a kid and then working through all the years of coaching and battling ... it's just a tremendous honor, a tremendous opportunity."
The respect between the two men was apparent. They joked, complimented each other's teams and generally seemed excited to be competing against each other. The best moment came when Fox was asked about his heart surgery that knocked him out for four games this season. He said he had a timetable to return, much like a player with a sprained ankle. When he was done, Carroll interrupted.
"If I could make a comment, what a stud," Carroll said. "Comparing open-heart surgery to being back from an ankle sprain. That's awesome."
Friday's joint press conference concluded the coaches' media obligations for the week. There's one more practice for each team on Friday, a few more meetings and then Super Bowl XLVIII kicks off at about 6:30 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.
When the coaches were done answering questions they walked right off the stage, ignoring the shiny silver trophy as they walked off. One of them will see it again on Sunday.
"Our language, since the first meeting we arrived, was to get to this point," Carroll said.
- - - - - - -