JERSEY CITY, N.J. — For a while, Sunday felt like a normal road trip to Seahawks center Max Unger.
He showed up at the Seahawks facility and got on the bus to the airport with his teammates. It seemed like any other road trip.
“But then there were 30,000 people waiting for us at the airport,” Unger said. “It’s crazy.”
It’s hard to prepare for this, especially for a Seahawks team that has no player who has played in a Super Bowl. The players and coach Pete Carroll talked about the bus ride to the airport with many Seahawks fans lining the street to wave to the bus and send them off. Then there were the many cameras at the Newark airport that wanted to film them simply walking off a plane, the dozens of fans waiting outside the team hotel to cheer for them as they got in, and shortly after that was their first taste of the media attention they'll face this week during Sunday night’s press availability.
"It’s not that exciting," Carroll said of the cameras clicking as the Seahawks got off the plane, "but somebody cares."
Safety Earl Thomas has played in a BCS Championship Game with Texas, and said he’s trying to draw on that experience leading up to the Super Bowl. But even a game of that magnitude isn’t the Super Bowl.
“It’s different,” Thomas said.
The Seahawks are mostly all new to this. Carroll joked that receiver Ricardo Lockette, who was in the 49ers organization last season but didn't play a game with the team, gives the Seahawks a load of Super Bowl experience on the roster.
Carroll, who has coached in college national championship games, said he made some calls to unspecified friends in the business to get some tips on how to handle the Super Bowl. Anyone in the organization, like linebackers coach Ken Norton, who is the only player to be a part of three straight Super Bowl wins, was asked for advice too.
But Seattle isn’t necessarily worried about their lack of experience (and to be fair, the Broncos don’t have a ton of Super Bowl experience either; Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is the only player on the roster who has won a Super Bowl ring). Carroll said the team has prepared and carried itself every day since he arrived as a championship team, and that helps. And this confident bunch isn't about to get flustered just because it's their first time.
“I've never seen experience play in a game,” said cornerback Richard Sherman, who had dozens of reporters around his table for his first media exposure out here. "We don't worry about that. We didn't have any experience in the NFC championship game either."
The enormity and strangeness of Super Bowl week started to sink in on Sunday, as both teams flew into New Jersey.
Everyone had a similar message: Manage the distractions, focus on the game, but enjoy the trip a bit too. It’s not a normal week for anyone on either team, but that’s a big part of the appeal, right?
"It's extraordinarily fun to be here," Carroll said. "It's so much fun for our guys to be here.
"We're well aware we just crossed the country to go play in the biggest football game you can play in. Everything that follows that, we'll take it in stride."
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