Only 6.25 percent of NFL players each season get the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.
It’s no secret it takes a special organization to put together a world championship-caliber team.
While former Meridian standout and Washington State tight end Andrei Lintz hasn’t been a part of the Seahawks regular and postseason success, he learned last summer what attributes form a NFL title contender.
Lintz, who caught nine passes for 102 yards and two TDs during his five years (2008-12) at WSU, spent three and a half weeks with Seattle before being cut late August.
His experience was one he won’t soon forget, and it gave him a firsthand look at Seattle’s unique, atypical football franchise.
“I was in camp with the best, not only my favorite team growing up, but arguably the best team in the league,” Lintz said in a phone interview. “It was a surreal experience, and I will definitely remember it for a while.”
The Seahawks entered the season with high expectations following a strong 2012-13 postseason run that ended in a 30-28 divisional round defeat to the Atlanta Falcons. Some pundits pegged them as a favorite to reach the super bowl.
Count Lintz as one of those who hasn’t been surprised by Seattle’s run.
Engulfed in the Seahawks organization, he saw a team driven to win an NFC West title with an even larger goal in mind.
“From the standpoint of being surprised, not at all,” Lintz said. “From the way they practice, to how they play and prepare for games, there’s no way I’m surprised. Being on the sideline for the games I played, you could tell everybody kind of believed that we were going to win the game. That’s definitely translated over to the season.”
Much of that belief instilled in the Seahawks comes from the coaching staff, namely head coach Pete Carroll.
The former University of Southern California coach’s rah-rah style has garnered plenty of publicity since returning to the NFL. It’s an unorthodox approach contrasting traditional NFL coaching norms.
Lintz hadn’t seen anything like it during his time at Meridian or the five years he spent at Washington State under coaches Paul Wulff and Mike Leach.
“Carroll is just like this new generation of positivity,” Lintz said. “Honestly, the first day in the practice facility, I noticed it was completely different that I ever experienced before.”
From rap and country music blaring before team meetings, to playing basketball together at the team facility, to players watching YouTube clips on a large projector screen, Lintz said having fun was encouraged in an effort to keep players loose.
Balancing out Seattle’s relaxed atmosphere was the constant reiteration of competition and winning, driven by what Lintz said are Carroll’s two favorite mantras: “always compete” and “win forever.”
Lintz said the word compete would be used roughly 30 times during a team meeting, and competition was reflected daily during practice.
“They don’t worry as much about the other team,” Lintz said. “The thought was to get so good at our own stuff, the other team can’t stop it. There was everything from Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor competing to (Marshawn) Lynch and (Robert) Turbin competing for carries.”
Lintz is back in Pullman working on his master’s degree. He’s also regularly working out with the hope of receiving an invite to an NFL mini-camp this summer He learned a lot about the NFL during his time with the Seahawks, but maybe his largest takeaway was absorbing how the NFL’s elite prepare.
It’s another reason, Lintz said, he believes Seattle is playing in the franchise’s second Super Bowl.
“Being around those guys, you realize they are straight pros,” he said. “Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson, to those guys football is a game, but it is how they make a living. I never saw them in the cafeteria, because they would grab their tray and go watch film.”
Lintz said he enjoyed receiving congratulatory messages from friends on his accomplishment, especially when he’s been back in the Bellingham community. He admitted his experience would even be more memorable if he could say he played with Super Bowl champions.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports update. Visit the Herald sports blog for the latest county news.