JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Percy Harvin knew he was brought in to be the X-factor for the Seahawks, the final missing piece of the puzzle that would send the team over the top.
They paid a steep price for Harvin, sending three draft picks – including a No. 1 – to the Vikings and then signing the wideout/kick returner to a six-year, $67 million contract.
But Harvin instead has been no factor, watching the majority of the Seahawks' run-up to Super Bowl XLVIII from the sidelines, first with a hip injury that shelved him for all but one game of the regular season and then a concussion, which cost him all but a half of football in the playoffs.
Now, he says he's healthy, and he's looking to be the playmaker the Seahawks thought they were getting when they invested so heavily on the explosive wide receiver/kick returner.
"I've been hearing `X-factor' and this kind of talk," Harvin said earlier this week. "This is not my first rodeo. I've played in a lot of football games and I've been effective at doing that. I'm not worried about anything other than what I've always done, and that is go out there and play football the way I know how."
Harvin averaged 70 receptions and returned five kicks for touchdowns – three for more than 100 yards – in four seasons in Minnesota. He averaged nearly 11 yards every time he touched the ball.
"Not many guys can do what he can do," Seahawks tight end Zach Miller said. "There are very few players like that in this world. Having him as a playmaker is just so good for an offense to have."
That Harvin is even suiting up in the Super Bowl is a surprise in itself. He underwent surgery on August 1 to repair a slight tear in his labrum and was placed on the physically unable to perform list to open the season. His rehab was on schedule until he hit a setback.
"It was a frustrating time,'' he said Thursday from the Seahawks' team hotel. "I had my ups and downs. I had my days that I really didn't want to talk to anybody. But as I have said, my teammates did more than I can even have asked for, keeping me in-tune and making sure I felt loved.
"A couple times I knew I was down and Richard Sherman, I don't know how he even read me, but he came up and just kind of was talking to me like, 'Man, I kind of see you down,' and just (started) talking to me. So just things like that, not only him but all of my teammates and this whole organization. There definitely were days when I was really down, but this whole organization kept me up and I'm grateful for that."
Harvin's lifelong best friend, Ronta Johnson, never left his side.
"He went to every appointment with me," Harvin said. "He came and sat with me. He stayed at my house. He went and got food for me."
Harvin made his season debut Nov. 17 against the Vikings, catching one pass for 17 yards and returning a kick 58 yards. But his hip didn't respond well to that game and Harvin shut it down for the rest of the season. He was likely hours away from injured reserve in December before he appealed to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to keep him on the roster.
"I love playing football," he said. "I love making plays. Not being able to do that caused a lot of frustration. To that extent I am happy to get out there and finally let it go."
Harvin said the concussion he suffered in the divisional round victory over the Saints is no longer a factor, and he is looking forward to the opportunity to make up for lost time.