Cooper Helfet’s journey to the Super Bowl took quite a few turns.
A three-sport athlete at Redwood High School in Larkspur, Helfet took a scholarship to play lacrosse at John Hopkins.
But Helfet missed playing football. He returned home and enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College where he played wide receiver. Duke came calling and switched Helfet to tight end. After two years with the Blue Devils, the 6’3”, 240 pound Helfet signed as an undrafted free agent with Seattle. He spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons on the Seahawks practice squad before fellow Redwood High alum, Pete Carroll, selected Helfet for the 53-man roster.
Helfet played in 10 regular season games in 2014, catching his first-career touchdown in his first career start. He missed six games, including both games against the 49ers, with knee, ankle and rib injuries.
This postseason, he had no receptions on three targets against Carolina and did not play in the NFC Championship against Green Bay. Helfert says he was a little banged up but is good to go Sunday against the Patriots.
His entire family will travel to Glendale to share whatever experience unfolds on Sunday. At Wednesday’s media session at the Seahawks’ team hotel I had the opportunity to get a few of the 25-year-old’s thoughts about playing in Super Bowl XLIX, especially when the turns in most player’s careers don’t lead to the game’s biggest stage.
MB: Last season you watched the Super Bowl from the sidelines. What do you take from that experience as you prepare to play in this year’s Super Bowl?
CH: We’re just a little more comfortable this year. Everyone seems to have a little more fun with it. We get to wear a little less clothes this week. It’s nice and sunny out. It’s been great to be in Arizona. Obviously, this year, I have to take it a little more seriously because I got a game plan and get in the game this year. It’s going to be a blast.
MB: It’s the same game, but are you able to keep your nerves in check?
CH: Yeah, but this organization does such a great job making everything the same whether it’s the first game of the season or the Super Bowl. We still have the exact same schedule. It makes you feel a little bit like you’re still at home, but obviously, all the media, it’s crazy. It’s the Super Bowl. I’ll probably have some nerves before the game but as soon as you get the first play or two in it’s back to regular old football and you’re just out the with the Seahawks playing Seattle football and having a good time.
MB: Russell Wilson rolls out and scrambles so much. How has that changed your game?
CH: There are always two parts to the play, if the play goes well, and he has time back there, he finds you as soon as you’re at your break. Obviously, Russ is so great with his feet. As soon as that doesn’t work and you’ve taken 10 steps out of your break and you haven’t gotten the ball yet, you kind of see which way he’s going. We have some rules of trying to get open and get across the field and make those plays. But you always have to be ready. Sometimes he’s not even really even looking at you and he slings the ball your way.
MB: I was told you room with Marshawn Lynch on the road? How did that come about?
CH: I’m his roommate back in Seattle. We have our own rooms on the road. Yeah, we’re both from the Bay and hung out a lot after the first offseason. He’s honestly, as much as the media tries to portray it differently, he’s a great guy. He’s the best. He took me in because I was just trying to find a place to live. He [said] “I have an extra room for now, and then we can figure it out later.” I’ve ended up living with him and it’s been a roller coaster ever since.
MB: Is it a bit surreal that you live with Marshawn?
CH: That’s honestly how he is. He is one of the most humble guys around, and he’s one of the best teammates we have, which you hear numerous guys say, just because whenever you need anything, he’s right there. He took me in to live with him. Funny, funny dude and great to be around.
MB: What do you see as a possible ‘X’ factor in this game against the Patriots?
CH: It’s kind of a game of they try and play X’s and O’s football, where they try to strategize and game plan. We just try and keep things the same and just play more physical and “out-athlete” them. It’s going to be a battle of two different coaching styles. It’s going to be some hard hits on our side of the ball and hopefully that’s how we take that edge, we out physical them.