Veteran linebacker Leroy Hill knows what a Super Bowl-quality team looks like, and he is certain he saw one in the 2012 Seattle Seahawks, even after their season ended Sunday in Atlanta.
“I’ll think that forever, man,” he said Monday as he and his teammates cleared out their lockers at the team training facility. “This is one of the best teams I’ve ever played on: the resilience of this team, just the heart, the fight. I look back on this whole season, and even the games we lost, we fought every team down to the last drive almost. It’s just that type of year. … You just hate to waste a team like this because next year something’s going to be different. It’s not going to be the exact same team.”
That last thought has particular relevance for Hill and veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, the two Seahawks remaining from Seattle’s appearance in Super Bowl XL — the 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 5, 2006, in Detroit.
Neither player is under contract for next season, and neither could say with confidence that he expects to be back when the team reunites for training camp this summer. But similarly, neither player sounded ready to hang up their cleats for good.
“I’m a competitor, so I always want to be out on the field,” Trufant said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time. I love the sport. I love the game. I’m going to just see how it goes, and I’m going to take it as it comes. (Seattle) would definitely be my first choice. Here is home. It will always be home. So to be able to play in my hometown, I’ve been blessed for 10 years to do that. So, I’m going to take it as it comes.”
Trufant, 32, is a Tacoma native and 2003 first-round draft pick out of Washington State University. He just completed his 10th NFL season, all with the Seahawks. He appeared in 12 games and started two, recording 34 tackles with two passes defended and one fumble forced and recovered.
“I feel good,” he said. “Of course, it’s a long season, so it can wear on you a little bit. … I was able to move around with all the young guys. … I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Hill, 30, completed his eighth NFL season. He appeared in 13 games, started 12, and finished eighth on the team with 47 tackles.
He also admitted his football future is a mystery.
“I’ll take it in stride, you know what I’m saying?” Hill said. “I’m gonna go relax for a little while. Go take care of my son. Just relax. What’s going to happen is going to happen. We’ll see.”
That career uncertainty robbed Trufant and Hill of some consolation that many of their teammates found in the disappointment of how their season ended Sunday.
As the Seahawks cleared their lockers, players tried to balance frustration over their 30-28 playoff loss in Atlanta against their eagerness to accomplish greater things next season.
“I feel like we left a lot of stuff out there,” safety Earl Thomas said. “We had our chances. It definitely (hurts) to be wrapping it up and everybody saying their last goodbyes. We know we’re building something great here, and this is something great to build off of next season. … You could just hear it in the coaches’ voices in meetings today. We’re definitely going to probably have some new parts … but we have a great core.”