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Seattle's Kam Chancellor plans to bring the gavel down at Super Bowl

Seattle safety Kam Chancellor is determined to shut down the Patriots at the Super Bowl

The NFL's Commissioner is determined to shut down the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

That's not Roger Goodell, who officially holds the title, but Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, who earned that nickname among the Seahawks for his ability to lay down the law on the field. Chancellor punctuates big plays — such as his 90-yard interception return in a divisional playoff game against Carolina — by hammering his imaginary "bam-bam" gavel.

"It's what you hit when court is in session," explained the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Chancellor, who's big enough to be a linebacker but has the speed and range of a defensive back.

Chancellor is expected to draw the assignment of covering New England All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, among the NFL's most dangerous offensive threats. Theirs is among the most enticing matchups of the Super Bowl.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman compared Chancellor to a lion roaming the backfield.

"We're a bunch of wild dogs until the big lion comes around, and we're some bad men when he comes," Sherman said. "He just brings that menacing force."

The health of Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary will be a Super Bowl story line this week. Safety Earl Thomas briefly left the NFC championship game against Green Bay with a shoulder separation, and Sherman suffered a sprained elbow late in the game. Coach Pete Carroll said both would be ready to go against the Patriots.

Sherman was already a little testy Sunday when the Seahawks met with the Super Bowl media for the first time. A reporter asked him if he — and, by implication, not New England's Darrelle Revis — was the best cornerback in football.

"I don't really answer preschool questions, so improve your questioning," Sherman said.

Whereas the free-wheeling Sherman figures to draw a bigger crowd this week — maybe the biggest of any player in the game — Chancellor could be the linchpin to Seattle's defensive success.

"You want a guy to be able to cover, you want him to be able to tackle, and you want a guy that can lead," Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said. "When you speak about all of those things, you're speaking about Kam Chancellor."

Chancellor was a drop-back quarterback in high school who transitioned to safety at Virginia Tech, and he said even that limited experience under center now helps him get into the head of a passer.

"Just being able to read offenses, understanding how they want to attack you sometimes, understanding how the quarterback wants to do his progression on his plays," he said. "I think playing quarterback helped me with that, and playing corner helped me with just moving around, footwork drills, man-to-man."

He said he wasn't disappointed about switching from quarterback to defensive back in college, because he had someone to model his game after — the late Sean Taylor, who at the time was a star safety for the Washington Redskins.

Even before that, Chancellor coincidentally (almost) crossed paths with an iconic Seahawks safety: Kenny Easley, the NFL's defensive player of the year in 1984. It just so happens that Chancellor briefly dated Easley's eldest daughter, Gabrielle, when they were students at Maury High in Norfolk, Va.

Chancellor never got the opportunity to meet the Seahawks great, however, and was disappointed in these playoffs when he again missed a chance to speak with Easley, who raised the 12th Man flag before the kickoff of the game against Carolina.

"I wanted to see him after the game, wanted to shake his hand and just hear from him," Chancellor said. "I wanted to get a picture with him also."

Chancellor had done his homework on Easley by studying the 1980s game footage he had uploaded onto his tablet.

"I can see a lot of similarity, a lot of physicality, just going out there and dominating," Chancellor said. "You can't do nothing but look up to a guy like that."

Evidently, the admiration flows both ways.

"He hits with a great deal of conviction, and I'm pretty sure that when he hits you, you feel it," Easley told the Seattle Times of Chancellor. "Speed-wise, we were probably somewhere close. But I would imagine that his pop is a little bigger than my pop was."

Chancellor is hoping to swing that gavel Sunday. Whether that will tilt the scales, the jury's still out.

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