We already knew the Seahawks’ Super Bowl 49 was bad.
Jeremy Lane’s Super Bowl was the worst of bad. Maybe the worst one for anyone. As in, ever.
Seattle’s playmaking nickel defensive back has returned to practice this week for the first time since he sustained a compound fracture of his arm plus a torn knee ligament at the end of his interception return early in that Super Bowl against New England on Feb. 1. Lane, also a standout on special teams, could play Sunday night against deep-passing Arizona, though coach Pete Carroll said the team isn’t sure yet.
He is still on the physically unable to perform list. Seattle (4-4) would have to release someone from the 53-man roster and activate Lane by Saturday afternoon for him to play in the showdown against the NFC West-leading Cardinals (6-2).
“I feel I’ve been ready from a couple weeks ago,” he said.
He’s wearing a white sleeve over his arm. It’s not for bracing the surgical repair; his arm is fully healed. It’s not for fashion.
He wants to hide the scars on his arm. And in his mind.
“Brings me back bad memories,” he said.
See, Lane’s injury — and recovery — are more surreal than we all knew.
“Crazy,” he said. “Words can’t even explain.
“It makes me mad and happy at the same time, because it was such a big play — but was such a sad moment.”
It didn’t have to happen. But Lane said Wednesday he felt he was too close to the goal line — he intercepted Tom Brady’s pass just a step into the end zone in the first quarter — to take a knee there for a touchback instead of embarking on his fateful return nine months ago. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman hit him along the sideline, taking Lane’s legs out from under him. Lane braced his fall with his left arm. It snapped at a grotesque, 90-degree angle while bearing all his weight.
He said he’s watched the play at least 25 times.
“Oh, I watched it all the way to the end. I had to see it,” he said. “I just wanted to know what happened.”
Then he smiled.
“Plus,” he added, “I wanted to see the interception.”
Lane’s arm was broken so dangerously and in so many places, he was rushed from the field immediately into surgery at a Phoenix-area hospital during the long game with the extended halftime show and multimillion-dollar television commercials.
“When I woke up, we were on the 1-yard line,” he said. “Say no more.”
Lane then ran his index finger over his throat in a terminal, slicing motion about the Seattle’s final, fateful play of the Super Bowl.
After he saw through groggy, anesthesia-affected eyes Russell Wilson’s interception at the goal line, Lane did what many wished they could have then.
“I saw that play, and I went back to sleep,” he said.
“When I woke up I was like, ‘Was that a dream?’ And then ... I mean, I don’t want to talk about that.”
That was just the start of it for Lane. He had a second surgery on his arm, to clean out an infection, about a month later. He believes he got that from the grass on the University of Phoenix Stadium’s field in Glendale, Arizona. Infection got into his arm because the fracture had punctured his skin near the wrist.
Soon after that second arm surgery, he was shopping in a Seattle-area grocery store when his knee buckled. That’s how he learned Edelman’s hit also tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Later in March he had the surgery to reconstruct the knee. That’s the injury that has slowed his return to the field.
“I feel like if we would have known right away, my process coming back probably would have been shorter than what it was, just because I had another month setback,” Lane said. “And my arm set me back a few times, too.”
Now, though, he’s ready to come back, and at an opportune time. The Seahawks know they can rally again to win the NFC West over the final eight games of the regular season. Two are against hot Carson Palmer and the soaring Cardinals. They will test Seattle’s secondary more than anyone this season.
“He’s a really active football player. He’s really quick. He’s aggressive,” coach Pete Carroll said of Lane. “He’s an attack guy, a good blitzer, playmaker too.
“He’s long enough that he can match up with the bigger guys. He’s quick enough to match up with the smaller guys and he’s a really good nickel fit for us. Catching him on highlights in preparation for this game, you can see the things that he can do. He’s running around making some plays and stuff.
“It’ll be exciting to get him back in the competition of it.”
Not half as exciting as it will be for Lane. Especially after his absolutely not Super Bowl.
“It’s all good. I made it through. I’m back on the football field,” Lane said with a well-earned smile.
“Can’t complain now.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle
SUNDAY: Arizona (6-2) at Seattle (4-4), 5:30 p.m., Ch. 5, 710-AM, 97.3-FM