JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll walked into the team's hotel Sunday night and said, "We're going to have a normal week as best we can."
Meanwhile, only a few feet away, more than 100 reporters gathered around the table where cornerback Richard Sherman was about to take a seat. About 40 others were waiting to hear what quarterback Russell Wilson had to say. And a large group of Seahawks fans had braved the cold and screamed wildly as the players exited the team bus and walked in the hotel.
So much for normal.
But Carroll believes his team, with no Super Bowl experience other than backup wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, is prepared for the madness that comes with this setting.
"We're well aware we just crossed the country to play in the biggest game of the year," Carroll said. "But we never talked about going to the Super Bowl or getting a ring. We just talked about playing well every week. We wanted to stay balanced throughout. We've had a championship mentality all season."
In each game, Carroll and the players said it was another championship opportunity, so they say this game is the same thing.
"We've had a long standing process to be able to deal with this," Carroll said. "It's been a process in preparing to be a championship team. We're young, but I think our team mentality is strong. They have a mature perspective."
Carroll is more concerned about facing Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos' offense than he is about all the distractions.
"Historically, it's as hard as it gets," Carroll said. "It can't get any tougher. Peyton Manning had a season no one ever dreamed of having. It's an extreme challenge."
Sherman was asked how the team will approach this week and this game.
"We're just going to approach it the same way we always do," he said.
Wilson said the frenzy to come, in the media center of the world, won't surprise the players.
"Coach Carroll told us there would be distractions and a lot of media," Wilson said. "But all year, our focus has been to do everything we can to prepare properly. Now we're here, and we believe we were meant to be here."