Common paths connect SB backs

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch and Denver running back Knowshon Moreno share a position and a path to Super Bowl XLVIII.

For starters, each was a No. 12 overall pick in the NFL draft. Lynch went to the Bills in that spot in 2007; Moreno went to the Broncos in that spot in 2009.

Initially, neither running back produced to his expectations. Each struggled with off-field issues.

In 2008, Lynch was involved in a 3:30 a.m. hit-and-run in Buffalo. Gun charges were brought against him a year later in California.

In 2012, Moreno was charged with DUI after being pulled over for speeding, all while operating a Bentley with license plates reading "SAUCED."

Buffalo grew so tired of Lynch that it went out and used a 2010 first-round pick on Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, whom it wanted to pair with running back Fred Jackson.

Denver grew so tired of Moreno that it went out and used a 2012 third-round pick on running back Ronnie Hillman and a 2013 second-round pick on running back Montee Ball.

After Buffalo drafted Spiller, it spent months searching for a trade partner for Lynch before it finally agreed in October 2010, just before the deadline, to deal him to Seattle for a 2011 fourth-round pick and a 2012 fifth-round pick. Buffalo later used Seattle's 2011 fourth-round pick on offensive tackle Chris Hairston and the 2012 fifth-round pick on linebacker Tank Carder, neither of whom made anywhere close to the impact Lynch did in Seattle.

Denver was open to dealing Moreno, but never found many takers. Plus, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was in favor of keeping Moreno, who was more trustworthy than Denver's other young backs. So, unlike Lynch, Moreno was not sent packing.

But here they are after all their on-field disappointments and off-field issues, looming as central figures in deciding who wins and loses Super Bowl XLVIII. It just goes to show yet again that just because a team is willing to move on from a disappointing player doesn't automatically ensure that he will disappoint again. Sometimes items on the NFL's on-sale shelf are the best bargains out there.

One of Seattle's biggest building blocks, Lynch, came via Buffalo as a player the Bills were willing to discount. One of Denver's most important players, Moreno, is in place only because the Broncos were stuck with him.

Now, two former 12th overall picks are central figures in their teams' runs through the postseason and to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Unsung coaching contributions: Two of the NFL's top offensive line coaches are men who have been connected through the years.

One of the least talked about yet most significant storylines about Super Bowl XLVIII will be the overlap between Broncos offensive line consultant Alex Gibbs and Seahawks offensive line and assistant head coach Tom Cable, two of the absolute best at what they do.

The two are linked by way more than their meeting in Super Bowl XLVIII. Gibbs held the title Cable now does, as Seattle's assistant head coach and offensive line coach, in 2010, before he abruptly announced his retirement one week before the start of the 2010 regular season.

The next season, after the Oakland Raiders fired him as their head coach, Cable accepted an offer with the Seahawks to fill the role that Gibbs' absence created. Cable was an ideal choice. He had learned at the feet of Gibbs, first when he was an offensive line coach at Colorado in 1998-99, when the Broncos, with Gibbs as assistant head coach, were winning the second of their back-to-back Super Bowls, then again when Gibbs and Cable worked together with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006.

As for Gibbs, he was retired, as usual, until he wasn't. A coach who has retired and unretired more often than Tony Gonzalez, Gibbs came out of retirement last spring to join ... the Broncos. Again. Gibbs took over as Denver's offensive line consultant. Not surprisingly, the Broncos' offensive line, even with a season-ending injury to Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady, has performed as the top unit in the NFL. Gibbs should get plenty of credit.

Meanwhile, Gibbs' pupil, Cable, is one of the least celebrated, most important members of the Seahawks' organization. He has a huge say in running the offense, and it is the reason his name has surfaced in connection to some head-coaching openings, and will again.

This is the Broncos vs. the Seahawks. But Gibbs and Cable will have a large say in determining the winner.

Up close and personal: At last season's Super Bowl, yours truly was asked to host two different Q & A's, the first earlier in the week for VIZIO with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the next on Super Bowl Sunday for Courtyard Marriott with Manning.

Each man was exactly what someone would expect: unfailingly polite and professional. Each answered questions, interacted with fans and enjoyed the Super Bowl experience as much as he could for not being able to play in the game. Only this season they will. Wilson and Manning will be back at the Super Bowl, in a role that makes each player happier.

Still ... if any companies want to ensure that the player who endorses their products advances to Super Bowl XLIX next year in Arizona, or if any team wants to ensure that its quarterback makes it to the big game, yours truly could be available next week. Just sayin'...

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