EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Sidney Rice strutted past, wearing a championship hat. Darrell Bevell grabbed the Lombardi Trophy and mugged — Darrell Bevell mugging! That happened! — near the coaches’ dressing room.
Tarvaris Jackson sat shirtless, smiling at the party surrounding him. Pete Carroll walked out of the Seahawks locker room and had a fan grab him and walk away, yelling, “I’ll never wash this hand — Pete Carroll shook it!’’
To complete the parade of former-Vikings-turned-champs, Percy Harvin headed to his locker, where someone asked whether he was disappointed he didn’t win the Super Bowl MVP award.
He smiled from earring to earring. “Man, we’re the champs!’’ he said. “I could care less about the MVP.’’
Maybe when Harvin threw that weight at Brad Childress, Chilly should have caught it, set it on the ground, and apologized for getting in the way. Maybe Leslie Frazier should have turned multiple cheeks.
Sunday, Harvin touched the ball four times in three different ways and torched the Denver Broncos in Seattle’s 43-8 victory at MetLife Stadium.
So the Seahawks stole him from the Vikings?
It’s not that simple. Harvin didn’t leave the Vikings much choice but to trade him, and may not have been available to them often enough this season to alter their fortunes.
So there’s only one clear winner here: Harvin.
He forced the Vikings to trade him to a team so well-constructed it could make the Super Bowl without its most talented offensive player, making Harvin the best Super-secret weapon since Sean Payton’s onside kick.
He moved to a state that legalized marijuana, convenient for a guy who reportedly tested positive for the drug during the NFL combine. He got healthy in time to become a big part of his team’s Super Bowl game plan. He delivered a stunning, a-la-carte display of skills that helped propel his new team to its first championship.
Most remarkably, facing the highest-scoring team in NFL history, he looked like the best offensive player on the field.
The drama king missed 15 of the Seahawks’ regular-season games because of injuries, and failed to finish a playoff game. He performed best in the games that mattered most to him: against the Vikings, and in the television show that follows the Puppy Bowl.
The Broncos spent two weeks preparing for Harvin, but preparation is useless against perception-altering speed. Ask Usain Bolt’s opponents, and Denver defenders.
Harvin first touched the ball on the third play of the game. He lined up wide right and sprinted left, taking a handoff for 30 yards, moving like a laser that takes sudden turns. “I have momentum,’’ he said. “Unless the defensive end is a freak, he can’t get his hand off the ground before I get to the edge.’’
During the Seahawks’ second drive, he caught a pass for 5 yards. On the third drive, he took another sprint sweep handoff for 11. To begin the second half, Harvin charged up to catch a short kick, burst through the middle and weaved 87 yards for the touchdown that made it 29-0. He had touched the ball four times, producing 137 yards and a touchdown.
Despite his performance, the Vikings can justify the trade. They rid themselves of a problematic player who had defied two head coaches and demanded a gargantuan raise. They received the first-round pick that enabled them to draft the similarly talented Cordarrelle Patterson, plus third and seventh-round picks.
The Seahawks? No longer do they have to justify the trade.
Asked whether he wanted a trade because he thought he had a better chance to win a title in Seattle than in Minnesota, Harvin, who dealt with hip and head injuries all season, said: “I’m just glad I’m here. These teammates are great. I leaned on them so much. The coaching staff, the support staff, they’re all first class. Everybody from the coaches to the cooks to the people upstairs kept my spirits up when I wasn’t playing. It was people coming to me through different parts of the day. It was really amazing.’’
What makes Harvin unique makes him vulnerable. Few players have ever packed so much speed and ferocity into 184 pounds.
Few NFL teams could afford to invest so much in such a player only to use him more like Mariano Rivera than Greg Maddux. The Seahawks did, and now they have Harvin in his prime and happy, playing with a young quarterback while surrounded by fast, ferocious players who should remind him of himself.
“We talk about it all the time,’’ Harvin said. “This is just the start. We have a young team. We’re still hungry. We don’t like to lose at all, whether it’s in practice, or in the locker room, or at home, or playing videos.’’
Harvin won it all when he barely played, prompting him to muse about the future. With confetti still stuck to his uniform, he said, “I don’t see us stopping, at all.’’
Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. firstname.lastname@example.org