Denver Broncos fans were left speechless last Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks steamrolled the Broncos in the XLVIII Super Bowl in New Jersey. The game was predicted to be tight, but the 43-8 score was anything but, leaving some fans in disbelief. It therefore only seems logical that many picked up on a report from Huzlers.com claiming that the Seattle Seahawks had fixed the Super Bowl and that the NFL would be investigating. However, a quick investigation led to the debunking of this particular claim from the satire site.
Huzlers.com admits that the article was a spoof, noting that their disclaimer makes mention of how the news on their site is a mixture of real news and satire. The article stated that NFL officials had found reasons to believe that the Super Bowl had been rigged and that the Broncos had intentionally thrown the game in exchange for an undisclosed but certainly large sum of money. Using fictitious quotes from actual officials as well as Super Bowl players, the satire went on to state that referee Terry McAulay had overheard a conversation between the quarterback for the Broncos, Peyton Manning, and Pete Carroll, the head coach for the Seahawks. The alleged (and made-up) conversation had Manning asking Carroll when he was going to pay him, which supposedly sparked an internal investigation with the NFL.
Manning’s performance (or lack thereof) this past Sunday is really what lent such credence to this story. With two interceptions thrown and an inability to throw more than one touchdown pass after breaking the all-time season record for number of touchdown passes thrown in the regular season, it seemed obvious that Manning was either off his game or that the Seattle defense had really stepped it up. The claim that Manning had fixed the Super Bowl for the Seattle Seahawks might have had more staying power if the game had actually been close—because after all, who would want to willingly embarrass themselves with such a distant score? If the game was actually rigged, it would have at least been close.
A more likely explanation came from the controversial and loud Richard Sherman, a defensive corner back for the Seahawks. He claimed that he and the other Seattle defenders were able to decode Manning’s hand signals for audibles, meaning that they knew exactly where Manning wanted the ball to go on those plays. He went on to brag that they knew Manning’s typical go-to routes for various downs and it was not difficult to predict where the Broncos quarterback was going to put the ball. While Manning changes his hand signals for every game, he did not adjust his hand signals during the course of the Super Bowl, so Seattle would have been able to exploit this advantage for the entirety of the game, if true.
While Denver fans might wish that the Super Bowl had been fixed to allow the Seattle Seahawks to win to explain their team’s dismal performance, it is imaginable that officials and true-blue fans are relieved that the NFL remains free from any overt rigging in the big game.
By Marisa Corley