NEW YORK — Between the hubbub surrounding Richard Sherman followed by the controversy over whether Marshawn Lynch would talk, Percy Harvin’s status — for so much of the season, the hottest topic when it came to the Seahawks — became almost an afterthought during Super Bowl week.
The apparent return to full health of Harvin, though, could be more meaningful than anything else that happened in the two weeks from the time the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game to Super Bowl XLVIII against Denver.
Harvin was listed as a full participant for every Seattle practice in the week leading to the Super Bowl, and Thursday — the last day Seattle players talked to the media — he said he felt as well as he had all season.
“I’m feeling very good,’’ he said.
The day before, he had sung a similar tone.
“I’m so excited to play football, be healthy and feel the way I’m feeling right now,’’ he said. “It’s going to be a good game.’’
If so, Seattle could be getting a game-changer at the most opportune time.
Seahawks fans might be skeptical after all the stops and starts this season for Harvin, who was acquired in March for three draft picks and signed to a six-year contract that could pay him as much as $67 million, with $25 million guaranteed.
Hip surgery and a subsequent setback in recovery limited him to just one game, and 19 snaps, during the regular season.
Then, after returning to play against New Orleans in the NFC divisional playoff game, a concussion knocked him out after a half, and another 19 snaps, preventing him from playing in the NFC title game against the 49ers.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, though, said that with the two weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl that Harvin “is in the game plan.’’
Carroll used similar words before the Saints game, when Harvin was targeted with passes four times, catching three for 21 yards, and also had one carry for 9 yards before being injured. Carroll said to expect Harvin to be used on special teams, which means he’ll return kickoffs in the Super Bowl.
When the Seahawks made their big investment in Harvin, some regarded him as the missing piece to win the Super Bowl.
Despite playing just six quarters all season, that could still be the case as his return could give a boost to a passing game that has been erratic lately.
Seattle coaches and teammates say Harvin’s impact is bigger than the numbers indicate because his presence opens things up for the rest of the offense.
“You’ve seen the special plays that he can make, just the few that he’s had,’’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “We’re really excited about having him.’’
Harvin is, too, calling playing in the Super Bowl a lifetime dream.
“I don’t know about redemption because I’m not looking at it in that way,’’ he said. “I’m just looking at it as an opportunity. … After all I’ve been through, to be able to know I’ve reached that goal, right here, it’s amazing.’’