All-Pro player, All-Pro person
The classic fear – don’t meet your heroes it might spoil them. If your hero is Mack Strong, meet him.
The definition of a class act and was so awesome in answering all my questions and wasn’t TOO obnoxious when he beat me in a throwing contest (the difference between a 16-year NFL pro and a sports writer I suppose).
Without further ado, here is my interview with the former Seahawk!
AC: You were on the only Super Bowl team in this franchise’s history, do you believe the current team has a chance to achieve that success, or what areas do they need to improve?
MS: They definitely have some areas to improve in. Defensively they’re probably good enough to make it to the Super Bowl and win it all but I think, even in the game against St. Louis they showed offensively they still got something’s to clean up. They have a very good running game, very good running back. Passing game needs to develop more of a threat on the field to accumulate points and yards, especially in the closing moments in some of these games.
AC: The replacement referees were finally dismissed a short while ago and you were infamously part of the most controversial Super Bowl call-wise, can you give us a few thoughts on that Super Bowl?
MS: To say there were questionable calls would be an understatement. This is how I feel about the Super Bowl I played in against the Steelers back in ’06. That the referees in any game they want to be invisible for the most part. You want to be able to play the game, obviously they’re going to make calls but they want to leave without anybody saying the referees influenced the outcome of the game. They weren’t able to say that, in our Super Bowl. There was so much controversy about some of the calls that they made, they were too visible. It’s a shame because you had two pretty good football teams out there. We didn’t play our best game but had the referees been a little more invisible in the way of participation out there on the field, I think we would’ve been in a better position to win that football game.
AC: Thank you for that – While we’re on the topic of questionable refereeing, we’re standing about 10 yards away from where the most controversial call of the season happened – Do you believe Golden Tate‘s touchdown was a touchdown, at any point in time during that play?
MS: *laughs* I didn’t think so, to my eye it looked like an interception. Give credit to Golden Tate, he competed all the way through to the very end for that ball and in the end he got credited for the touchdown. Whether that was an actual touchdown or not is a moot point now.
AC: If you could block for any running back in NFL history, who would it be? And who is the best in the game today?
MS: Marshawn Lynch for both. I think the way I played and the way he runs, we could do some serious damage together.
AC: 32-yard run to seal the win in the divisional round against the Redskins in ’05, is that your favorite personal moment?
MS: That is definetly up there. If it’s not that, then a 30-yard run I had against the Rams the next year. I had asked all week to get the ball and finally I got it, punched it through the hole and ended up taking it 30-yards for the touchdown. A holding call from Chris Spencer brought it back though. On the next play Hasselbeck threw a touchdown.
AC: You played for arguably the most successful coaching staff in Seahawks history, so give us your thoughts on Pete Carroll and the staff he has put together
MS: It’s a good staff, this is a very good group and they’ve been around for a very long time. They’re very knowledgeable, very confident. Totally different approach then the coaches I played for with Holmgren. But they’ve got a philosophy they believe in and they’re sticking to it. Hopefully this year we really see it come together. The past few years we’ve been watching it develop and you see hints and signs of the team being upper echelon of football teams, but this year is the year for them to get over the hump.
AC: Despite his success on the field and class off of it, Shaun Alexander sometimes drew the anger of Seahawk fans for being a duck out of bounds guy, would you either clear things up or confirm the thoughts of the fans?
MS: I think he could’ve been tougher, early in his career he was. He was very aggressive not necessarily at the line of scrimmage but in the redzone. He ran with a unique determination and purpose to score down there. A really cool drive to score touchdowns. There were definitely more physical runners that I’ve blocked for as far as between the tackles, but when it comes to being special by scoring touchdowns he was the most special at that.
AC: What do you have to say about Seattle’s current fullback Michael Robinson?
MS: I think he’s a very good fullback. He’s a Pro-Bowler and is doing an excellent job opening holes and being the eyes for Marshawn Lynch. He is very fortunate. The fullback and the tailback compliment each other so well and I think Marshawn is very lucky to have him as a fullback and I believe he’s very lucky to have Marshawn as a tailback because there aren’t many backs in the league that run the way Marshawn does. It makes Robinson’s job easier.
AC: Last question for you Mack. Who has the better defence, this year’s team or the ’05 Super Bowl team?
MS: This year’s team! For sure. What we did better was sacking quarterbacks. We led the league in sacks that year. I think we had 50 as a defence. We were a better team in that area. But overall as a defence, this team is definitely better. They’re faster they’re bigger, more physical. Better against the run, the pressure on the quarterback is picking up and if it gets anywhere close to where we were in ’05 they have a chance to be really really good.
AC: Super Bowl pick before you go?
MS: AFC side, Houston. A lot of people probably felt that at the beginning of the season and they’re proving it. Even though Arizona is undefeated (author’s note: This was conducted Sunday of Seattle/St. Louis) I don’t like them much. Probably San Francisco or New York Giants repeating.
Again a huge thank you to Degree Men, Mack Strong and Norm Johnson for putting on an amazing day!
Interview with Norm Johnson: http://www.nwsportsbeat.com/seahawks/exclusive-interview-seattle-kicker-norm-johnson-21012/