Former Vikings defensive back enjoys perks of winning Super Bowl with Seahawks

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: MICHAEL WORKMAN - DeShawn Shead (left) covers a kickoff by the Seattle Seahawks during their Super Bowl drubbing of the Denver Broncos.DeShawn Shead stands in the Portland State football offices wearing a Seattle Seahawks sweatsuit and one of the biggest smiles the building has ever seen.

It has been 18 days since Shead’s Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. In that time, Shead has experienced celebrity like few could imagine.

From spending the night of the Super Bowl in a New York City club with rapper Dr. Dre in attendance to being in the Seahawks' victory parade attended by an estimated 700,000 people — the past 2 1/2 weeks have been a whirlwind for the former Viking.

As much as any player who has ever won the Super Bowl, Shead is not taking the moments for granted. The Palmdale, Calif., product remembers what it was like to play defensive back at Portland State. And he remembers being on the Seattle practice squad during his first year in the NFL and the first chunk of the 2013 season.

“Starting from the bottom on practice squad and moving up and becoming a factor, playing in the last five games of the regular season and playing in the playoffs and being a factor in the Super Bowl, it means everything to me,” Shead says. “It’s been a very emotional moment.”

Shead, who played in the Park Blocks from 2008-2011, joins former Vikings Clint Didier and Ted Popson as the only Portland State players to win a Super COURTESY OF PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY - DeShawn Shead returns to the Portland State athletic department as a Super Bowl champion.

In the championship game, played in MetLife Stadium at East Rutherford, N.J., Shead started on the kickoff, kick return, punt and punt return teams.

Shead did not expect to get into the game on defense. But when Seahawks safety Kameron Chancellor was injured in the second quarter, the coaches sent Shead onto the field.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but I anticipated it,” Shead says. “I prepared for it as if I was a starter. When I did get in the game, I took advantage of my opportunity. I was ready. I was prepared. That was the first time I finally got more than five snaps on defense.”

Shead says he played about 10 snaps in the secondary, staring down one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, Payton Manning.

“I did my job and got in on a couple of tackles,” Shead says. “The level of play didn’t drop. Everybody in the stadium knew Payton Manning was going to throw my way, but I did my job and took full advantage of my opportunity.”

In the aftermath of the Super Bowl, people have popped out of the woodwork.

“There’s a lot of people coming my way,” Shead says, “whether it’s family members that you didn’t know you had, or friends that you haven’t talked to since elementary school. I don’t mind that type of stuff. A lot of people don’t get in this position to win the Super Bowl. I embrace that.

"I’ve had like 500 messages since the game, and I made sure to text everyone back.”

While Shead says hearing from most of the people is fun, some simply want a piece of him.

“It’s a stereotype that just because you play in the NFL you make a LOT of money,” Shead says. “They fail to realize that we’re taxed almost 40 percent and this is a short career. You’ve got to be able to save and live life after football.”

In 2013, Shead earned $480,000, which falls into the league's minimum-salary range.

“For people in my position, I’m not making the big time money,” he says. “I’m more toward the bottom of the NFL totem pole.”

The Seahawks' run through the playoffs padded Shead’s wallet, though. He made an extra $23,000 when Seattle won its divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, plus $42,000 when the Seahawks won the NFC championship against the San Francisco 49ers and then another $92,000 for the Super Bowl victory.

The extra $157,000 boosted his total pay to $637,000 for the year.

“It was real good money,” Shead says, of the extra cash. “To get that is amazing.”

Winning the Super Bowl and playing a solid amount on defense has Shead hungry to crack Seattle’s defensive rotation next year.

He knows that one way to do that will be to continue showcasing his talent on special teams.

“For a defensive player, it starts on special teams,” he says. “If you aren’t a first- or second-round draft pick, special teams is what you do. For a guy like me, being an undrafted free agent, you’ve got to show up on special teams and in practice. You have to show that you’re reliable and that the coaches can trust you.”

Shead knows more than anyone that life is all about seizing the moment.

“It’s about opportunity right now,” he says. “If I were given the chance to go out there and play, I’d do very well.”

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