Peyton Manning and his precall shout-outs aren't the only Omaha connection to Sunday's Super Bowl.
Second-year pro Phil Bates, an Omaha North graduate, has been on the Seattle practice squad all season and will be on the Seahawk sideline Sunday.
Speaking Friday evening from New York, Bates said the entire experience has been “something special.”
“This is something that when you're a little kid you imagine yourself being a part of,” Bates said. “You dream of being at the Super Bowl.”
That was Bates dancing with “Entertainment Tonight” star Rocsi at media day this week.
And it was the Omaha native mingling with big-time fashion designers in the Big Apple this week.
“I can't explain how cool New York City is,” he said. “I see why they say it doesn't sleep.”
Despite a busy schedule of game preparation and getting plenty of friends and family to town — Bates had an allotment of 15 tickets — he took a few minutes to catch up with The World-Herald.
Q: What's this entire season and experience been like for you?
A: It's been one of those roller coasters. It's a grind. Every week is a different week to prepare in a championship fashion. That's one of the things Coach (Pete) Carroll talks about quite a bit.”
Q: You made the change from quarterback to wide receiver earlier in your career and then shifted to a fullback/H-back role early this season. How did that all shake out?
A: After the San Diego game in the preseason, they came to me and wanted me to start looking at it. Kind of a Marcel Reese (Oakland Raiders) role. And (Charles) Clay with the Dolphins. I tore my hamstring at the beginning of the season so I was down for a while. I kind of came back and I'm back at receiver now.
Q: Had any “this can't be real” moments this week?
A: Definitely. The whole experience is just crazy hectic. You're not on your normal schedule, you're in a different time zone. It just all seems so surreal. Media day was probably it. All those cameras and all of a sudden I'm singing on “Insider” and dancing with Rocsi on “ET.” It was just nuts. And then you see guys like Prime (Hall of Famer Deion Sanders), guys that you look up to. And Michael Irvin, a guy you want your career to be like.
Q: It sounds like Percy Harvin is going to play Sunday; what sort of dynamic does he add to the offense?
A: Jermaine Kearse and I were just laughing about a story from OTAs. I lined up wide and Percy lined up in the slot and we were both running gos. I took off and he took off and before I blinked he was 5 yards in front of me. The dude is the fastest dude I've ever seen.
Q: We got a full dose of Richard Sherman after the NFC championship game. What's he really like?
A: Great dude. For media day, I took the microphone (and) was going around and interviewing people, and he was one of the ones that I had the most fun with, going back and forth. Sherm is genuinely a great guy. He does stuff for his community, for his teammates. He goes above and beyond. I can't speak enough about how great Richard is.
Q: There was a lot of talk this week about Marshawn Lynch. Is he the quiet storm he seems like?
A: That's another guy that people don't understand about. He's an outgoing guy. He's the funniest dude. He's hilarious. And he's another community dude. He looks out for everyone.
Q: And Russell Wilson?
A: It's a blessing to be around him, too. You see the guy work: first one in, last one out. We spend a lot of time together. He's always looking to perfect his craft. He's looking to make everyone better, not just himself better. You learn so much from all three of those guys.
Q: Did you watch your alma mater win the Class A title in November?
A: Of course. In fact, I was screaming so loud that someone called the police and they came and knocked on my door to make sure everything was OK. I love my school. If I could bring home a Super Bowl ring and they have a state championship, that would be huge. We were always so close. It was unbelievable to see them finally get it done. Watching (North coach Larry Martin) give out those medals, I felt like he was giving me one of them.
Q: You feel like you guys have a little something for Peyton on Sunday?
A: I hope so. Peyton is ridiculously good. He's got every record in the book.