NEW YORK — Pete Carroll felt a lot of emotions Monday morning, hours after his Seattle Seahawks crushed Denver, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII.
He was proud, excited, drained, satisfied.
But not surprised.
"We developed a mentality from the first day we start talking about these kinds of moments, because this is exactly what we envisioned from Day 1," Carroll said at the traditional most-valuable-player news conference. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, who played for him at USC, won that award.
"We were going to be right here and win this football game —and it just happened to be in New York which makes it even more special — in the fashion that we were able," Carroll continued. "We deserved it and we earned it because this is exactly what we've been preparing for, and we expected it. That may sound cocky. That may sound arrogant. But it's a mentality you can't get in one week."
In winning on the league's biggest stage, the Seahawks became the 19th of 32 franchises to claim the Lombardi Trophy. Their rout included touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams — and a safety on the game's first play from scrimmage, putting points on the board in a Super Bowl-record 12 seconds.
The challenge now for Carroll and General Manager John Schneider will be managing the finances to pay the players they need to pay — they are Super Bowl winners, after all — while staying under the salary cap and keeping the core of the team intact.
"The first meeting that we'll have will be [Tuesday]," the coach said. "That starts [Tuesday]. Our guys would be surprised if we didn't. We really have an eye on what's coming, and that we don't dwell on what just happened."
Among the water-cooler topics the NFL will be working on this off-season:
Expanding the playoffs
The league will take a hard look at adding a playoff berth to each conference, thereby expanding the postseason field from 12 to 14 teams. That means there would be six games on wild-card weekend, instead of the current four, and only the No. 1 seeds in each conference would get a first-round bye.
"We think we can make the league more competitive, we think we can make the matchups more competitive towards the end of the season," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "There'll be more excitement, more memorable moments for our fans. And that's something that attracts us, and we think we can do it properly from a competitive standpoint."
There's also a little matter of the NFL making more money with those two extra games. Regardless, because of scheduling reasons, the league wouldn't be able to implement a new format until the 2015 season.
A federal judge has yet to approve a proposed $765-million settlement between the NFL and retired players over the lifelong impact of concussions. The next step is a court-approved financial expert looking at the viability and fairness of the deal. This is the biggest issue by far that has cast a shadow over the future of the league.
Remember 2 1/2 years ago, when the league and its players shook hands on a new collective bargaining agreement? Part of that accord was a deal to start blood testing for human growth hormone. The sides are still haggling over the details of that and disagree over whether Goodell or a neutral arbitrator will handle certain types of appeals.
Centralized replay review
In the future, it might not be officials in the replay booth who are assisting in the review of controversial plays, but the NFL's officiating department in New York. The competition committee will look into the issue this spring and make a recommendation to the team owners.
"We think there's plenty of room for us to improve the game of football and officiating in particular," Goodell said. "What we all want is consistency, fairness in our officiating. And we believe that we might be able to achieve more consistency when we bring instant replay with us, more of a centralized version and decision-making process."
Locker room conduct
Independent investigator Ted Wells hasn't finished his report on the Miami Dolphins' alleged bullying situation. When he does, the league probably will issue some type of guidelines about locker room conduct, and what is out of bounds. It's not likely to have much effect on how teams and players interact, but it's a public-relations issue that will be addressed.
The L.A. saga slogs onward — the nation's No. 2 market has been without an NFL franchise for almost 20 years — but there's a twist now. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a 60-acre parking lot adjacent to Hollywood Park, a big enough plot for a stadium (but probably not enough for the required parking too.) Is this a power play to squeeze a better deal out of St. Louis or a serious step toward Southern California? The coming months will reveal a lot.