Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who has entertained thoughts of conspiracies before, notably one surrounding 9/11/2001, may not be so entertained by a conspiracy theory revolving around his end-of-game Super Bowl play call that went awry and sealed the doom of his team.
Rumors have spring up and taken root that the Seahawks called a pass on second and goal from the Patriots one-yard line instead of a running play for fearsome back Marshawn Lynch because the team wanted quarterback Russell Wilson as the post-game star instead of Lynch.
A more complete explanation of the conspiracy theory runs: Wilson is clean-cut and a God-fearing Christian; Lynch is far from that. To make Wilson the hero of the game is good public relations for the team, as well as letting him speak on the microphone to the world, as opposed to Lynch, who hates speaking publicly.
Lynch had just bulled for four yards on first down from the five-yard-line, leaving the Seahawks one yard from glory, when Carroll and the Seahawks decided to throw a goal-line slant to Ricardo Lockette, prompting Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler to leap in front of Lockette and intercept the pass.
After the game, devastated by the loss, one player floated the theory of a conspiracy to give Wilson the glory. As Michael Silver wrote on NFL.com:
I’ll spare you the numerous “What the (expletive) was he thinking?” mutterings I overheard from people in Seahawks uniforms and refrain from lending any legitimacy to the conspiracy theory one anonymous player was willing to broach: That Carroll somehow had a vested interest in making Wilson, rather than Lynch, the hero, and thus insisted on putting the ball in the quarterback’s hands with an entire season on the line. “That’s what it looked like,” the unnamed player said, but I’d be willing to bet that he merely muttered it out of frustration, and that it was a fleeting thought.
The Nation seconded Silver’s account:
In the stunning aftermath, after that unfathomable decision, conspiracy theories sprouted like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. I’m not talking about Twitter-theories from deep-thinking eggs, or any cris de coeur from devastated Seahawks fans. I’m talking about people inside Seattle’s own locker room … I contacted someone inside that locker room and they said to me as if on repeat: “Can’t believe it. We all saw it. They wanted it to be Russ. They didn’t want Marshawn to be the hero.” … People in the Seattle locker room are saying it.
Zirin’s initial article infused racial motivations into the theory. But when informed that Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch share the same racial background, Zirin changed the text and stuck to his story that of course he knows Wilson and Lynch are both black.
Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin, expressing thoughts common to the team, told Silver:
We beat ’em, bro. We beat ’em. … I’m speechless. Best back in the league, and the 1-yard-line? It wasn’t even the 1 — it was like half a yard. I will never understand that, bro. I will never understand it. I will never understand…. When Jermaine caught that ball, I felt it was meant to be for us. Oh, no doubt — we’re gonna score. Beast Mode. Beast Mode! Best back on the (expletive) planet. That’s crazy!
Carroll had an explanation of his own for the play-call, saying, “You could run on 2nd down, call timeout, have to throw on third and score, or incompletion and have to choose (run or pass) on the final down. That’s ball logic, not 2nd guess logic … you never think you’ll throw an interception there, just as you don’t think you would fumble.” Carroll added that the play-call was a mirror image of the gutsy call at the end of the first half, when Wilson tossed a TD pass to Chris Matthews with six seconds left to tie the game, 14-14. He pointed out, “The logic and reasoning (of the second-and-1 pass) is why you throw a TD pass with six seconds left in the half.”
Carroll could have also mentioned that in the 2014 season, Lynch was given the ball five times from the one-yard-line. He scored once.