Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson warms up before the Super Bowl on Sunday night. (Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)
East Rutherford, N.J. — Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has not spoken to the Detroit media since he was fired Dec. 30, but he reached out Sunday to defend defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
NFL Network and Fox analyst Heath Evans caused a minor stir Friday when he said Suh was uncontrollable, that he showed up late to and disrupted meetings, and had a power struggle with Schwartz.
That report has been roundly debunked by Suh’s teammates and others close to the team. Schwartz weighed in on it Sunday, sending a statement through the Lions’ media relations staff.
“Ndamukong Suh was not late for any team meeting, practice or team travel in any of our four years together,” Schwartz said. “Anyone who reports otherwise is being either untruthful or has been misled."
Schwartz now is the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Speaking at his introductory press conference six days ago, he said of his firing in Detroit, “I think, in our business, that is not unusual. I think if you look around, just about every coach has been in that position. Every coach has had some situation. There are some great ones that have been fired. It is part of this business.
“There was never a question of getting back on the horse, so to speak. It was just making sure that the opportunity was the right one. I am very confident that this is it.”
Small man, big goals
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson talked all week about wanting to be a player who changes the game.
“If you think about it, there’s a difference between being good and being great and changing the game,” he said. “I think guys like Peyton Manning have changed the game in terms of the way he thinks, in terms of the way he processes things. Tom Brady is the same way. He’s so clutch; people fear him when he steps on the field. Drew Brees is a guy like that.
“And one day I want to evolve to that.”
He wants to prove, like Brees has, that shorter quarterbacks can win Super Bowls.
“I believe that God made me 5-11 for a reason,” he said. “For all the kids that have been told, no, that they can’t do it and for all the kids that will be told no. That’s one of the reasons that I left playing baseball, to be honest with you. I had this urge to play the game of football, because so many people — I shouldn’t say so many, a handful of people — said I couldn’t do it.
“For me, I just believe in my talent that the Lord gave me and I wanted to take advantage of it.”
Six degrees of Hanson
Former Lions kicker Jason Hanson has a rare connection to this Super Bowl game. He has won mild training camp battles against both Denver kicker Matt Prater and Seattle’s Steven Hauschka.
The Lions signed Prater as an undrafted rookie in 2006. He lasted four months before being cut at the end of training camp.
Hauschka was signed by the Lions in 2010, the year Hanson was coming off surgery. He only lasted a month. He might have been recalled after Hanson was injured after eight games that year, but he had already signed with Denver, to fill in for an injured Prater.
Prater has been with Denver since 2007. Hauschka has been with Seattle since 2011.
Big play C.J.
The Lions were not shut out at the third annual NFL Honors awards night Saturday.
Receiver Calvin Johnson won the play of the year award for his 50-yard touchdown catch in the Week 7 victory over Cincinnati. Johnson made the catch over triple coverage.
The play was selected out of 20 nominees by fan vote on NFL.com.
… Denver coach John Fox will receive a $1 million bonus if the Broncos win Sunday.
… Broncos receiver Eric Decker will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. It would cost the Broncos $11 million to use the franchise tag on him, which would presumably be cost prohibitive.
… Random statistic: Manning was sacked 20 times in 18 games this season. Wilson was sacked 51 times in 18 games.