PHOENIX - Do the Seattle Seahawks have an advantage, as they watch the New England Patriots try to prepare for Super Bowl XLIX under the glare of the Deflategate investigation spotlight this week?
"I don't know if it's been a distraction . . . it's just a nuisance," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said yesterday. "It's not a football question. Any time you're at the Super Bowl answering nonfootball questions on a day-in, day-out basis, it's probably a little irritating for them, I'm sure. For us, it's more indifference."
Sunday, Sherman questioned whether Patriots owner Robert Kraft's close relationship with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would keep New England from suffering the league's wrath too harshly. Yesterday, he seemed to be doing his part to play down a matter that neither the Pats nor the Seahawks want to become the most memorable takeaway from the week.
"I don't know what the conclusion will be, but I'm sure they're doing their due diligence, and if there was wrongdoing, they'll find it, if there wasn't, they'll find [that]," Sherman said. "I think Robert Kraft spoke about an apology; I'm sure they'll issue an apology if they are found to do no wrong. Because, obviously, if they are found to do no wrong, then a lot of people jumped to invalid conclusions about the situation. If they are found to be guilty, then it is what it is."
Who knows what today's media availability, held in a more sane atmosphere, will bring, but Deflategate did not dominate Media Day yesterday. As far as the Daily News could determine, there was only one guy walking around with a deflated football in one hand and microphone in the other, and he didn't wave the ball in Bill Belichick's face or anything.
New England's coach again refused to address the matter, answering questions with assertions about focusing on the Seahawks, as he had Monday evening, at his introductory news conference. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who Monday evening tried to take the pressure off his coaches and players by railing against media leaks from the investigation, and against the assumption that the Pats are cheaters, was available again, at the back of the jammed US Airways Center floor, but he wanted to talk more about the reason his team is here - it is trying to win its fourth Lombardi Trophy, 10 years after winning its third, against the Eagles in Jacksonville.
The Pats have played in two Super Bowls since they last won one. Sunday they will take the field at the site of their most memorable defeat in that span, the SB XLII upset loss to the Giants that ended an undefeated season.
Seattle college scouting director Scott Fitterer interviewed with the Eagles for the job of Chip Kelly's personnel chief, but he has decided to stay in his current position, Seattle general manager John Schneider told reporters at Media Day.
Fitterer is believed to have spoken with Kelly at the East-West Shrine Game practices 2 weeks ago in Florida. The Chiefs' Chris Ballard, the Bucs' Jon Robinson and the Texans' Brian Gaine all have dropped out of consideration, along with Fitterer. Houston promoted Gaine to keep him from taking the job, sources have said.
Jaguars executive Chris Polian and Miami exec Chris Grier have each interviewed twice with Kelly.
Meanwhile, Eagles wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell might become the 49ers' new offensive coordinator, according to a report by NFL Network's Albert Breer.
Seattle safety Earl Thomas, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the NFC Championship Game, said his shoulder feels good. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Thomas and Richard Sherman (elbow) were "both at full strength even as we finished up last week. They're relentless competitors, and they're back and locked in."
Thomas lauded the healing power of meditation and prayer.