Some people have spent the last week blaming Darrell Bevell for what is being called the single worst play-call in Super Bowl history. But Bevell, the offensive coordinator for the Seahawks, actually got his NFL career started in Green Bay as a wet-nosed offensive assistant in 2000. And that’s where the true cause of yesterday’s head-scratching play was set into motion.
The Green Bay job was a coming home party for Bevell, who in a past life had quarterbacked the Wisconsin Badgers to a Rose Bowl victory over UCLA in 1993. Eerily enough, that team was also down by four in the fourth quarter when they took the lead on—of all things—a touchdown run by the slow-footed Bevell for a go-ahead score.
Despite his playing accolades, Bevell’s early coaching career included only modest roles at Westmar University and UConn, where he coached the passing game. It was not until an Andy Reid recommendation led to Mike Sherman plucking Bevell for his Green Bay staff that his career truly took off.
Admittedly in his over his head, Bevell found himself with the task of coaching multiple MVP winner, Brett Favre. One has to wonder who was really coaching whom in practice and, more importantly, during the key moments of big games. Sure, Bevell would probably prepare the slides and eventually guide Favre through drills, but the roles of teacher and student would have been diminished, or even reversed at times, due to Favre’s big personality and playmaking ability. With Favre, Bevell would eventually witness five years of Packers football in which the team averaged 11.4 wins a season. Everyone shines in the light of a star.
Despite their overall success, however, those Packer teams never even made it to an NFC title game. This era also gave us one of Favre’s most jaw-dropping performances, when he chucked six interceptions to the St. Louis Rams in the 2001 NFC Divisional round. Bevell would have had a front row seat to that debacle.
Favre’s potential influence on Bevell did not end in Green Bay, however, and this is where this story gets weird. Somehow, due to cosmic forces (also known as Aaron Rodgers and the retirement saga), Favre ended up playing for the Minnesota Vikings in 2009, under their third year coordinator named...you guessed it...Darrell Bevell.
Reunited and feeling so good, Favre crushed it in his first year in the system, throwing 33 touchdowns and an astounding seven interceptions. This was coming from a 40-year-old QB who had not thrown fewer than 15 picks since 1997, had just thrown 22 the year before, and would throw 19 the next.
Things turned south in the title game versus the New Orleans Saints, however, when Favre threw an inexplicable interception in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter to let the game slip away, leaving an all-time-great running back standing empty-handed on the field.
Stop me if this sounds familiar.
Maybe Favre and Bevell are following each other, neither one able to pull off back-to-back championships. Maybe a little bit of Favre's carelessness and aggressiveness infected Bevell somewhere along the way. Maybe Bevell only got promoted because of his ties to Green Bay's machine-like offense, and really was in over his head the whole time.
Or maybe everyone involved, including Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, just overthought it.