It’s no stretch to say that Swin Cash is well-schooled in the art of winning. She won two national championships in college at UConn, two Olympic gold medals with Team USA, and three WNBA titles with the Detroit Shock and Seattle Storm. The Pittsburgh native has also experienced her share of championship glory off the court as a die-hard Steelers fan.
SI Kids caught up with the Chicago Sky forward in New York City to talk about Peyton Manning, Super Bowl predictions, and braving the frigid temperatures brought on by the polar vortex.
Are you a big football fan?
I am, I am. Unfortunately, my team, the Steelers, isn't here, but I played in Seattle for the Storm for about four years. The Steelers beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl [in 2005-06] and Emerald City has not forgotten. For me, I'm so happy for [Seattle] to be back here and I actually hope they win, even though I love Peyton Manning. I hope Seattle wins so they can get over still talking about how we beat them [laughs]. I even have WNBA fans saying, “Hey Swin, I know you're in New York, we're heading there right now, hopefully we won't get cheated again like we did in Detroit.” I'm like, yeah, as I hold up the number six. Six rings — count 'em!
What’s your favorite Super Bowl memory?
I grew up watching the Steel Curtain, watching film of [quarterback Terry] Bradshaw and those guys. The last two Super Bowls that we won, I went to in Tampa and Detroit. I was playing in China when they played in Dallas [in 2011], and to this day I regret it because I feel like if I had been at that game it would've been a different outcome. Those are my greatest memories, watching the guys from my era — Ben Roethlisberger, Plaxico Burress, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward. There are just so many guys that I'm really happy for and proud of, too.
What's your prediction for Sunday’s game?
My prediction is that the Seahawks will get over the hump. I love Pete Carroll — he is a players' coach. His high energy, his love and passion for the game, players feed off that. And then with all the players they have, I think they have all the tools to get it done.
I'm a believer that defense wins, and after walking outside for two minutes and my jaw getting frozen, I feel really bad for Peyton Manning because it would be such a treat to have good weather and see such a high-octane offense. It would be a great thing for fans to be able to watch that defense and offense going head to head. I think they'll be watching a lot of icicles, and that plays to Seattle's strength.
I saw today that it's supposed to be 40 degrees on Sunday.
Yeah, they could say whatever they want, but until the polar vortex is out of here, I'm not going to believe it. If it gets up to 40 degrees, it's going to be a fun game to watch.
What do you think of what Manning has done this year at age 37 and coming back from a severe neck injury? Is the way he approaches his sport really different from other pro athletes?
There's a difference between being a great athlete and being the total package — and Peyton Manning is the total package. You can be a great athlete but you don't study the game, you don't know things that well, you just go out there and play. Peyton goes out there like a surgeon and basically dissects you piece by piece. And as a player, you have to love and respect that. Also, as a player who blew out a disc in my back and had to get surgery, I know how hard I had to work, how hard I had to study to [return to top form]. So what Peyton is doing, I completely respect it. That's why I hope the weather is good enough for him to show his greatness.
What’s the score going to be on Sunday?
Let’s say it’ll be cold but not snowing or anything.
If the Seahawks win, what would it mean to the city?
It’s going to be pretty much chaos. I just know from the Storm winning a championship, it was pouring down raining and the fans came out to support us [at the victory parade]. They are some of the most die-hard fans on the west coast.
The 12th Man is something the Seahawks are known for. Did you sense that kind of passionate fan following with the other sports in Seattle as well?
Absolutely. When I got there, the WNBA fans were calling themselves the Sixth Man. They were crazy fans. They’d be playing hip-hop music in the arena and there would be this little old lady doing the Stanky Leg. It was craziness. It reminded me of college. I started calling them Storm Crazies and they took on the name, and now that is the nickname for the fans. They identify with it and connect with it. Every sports team that has those die-hard fans, they figure out what their name is going to be, because it connects the fans with the players and organization. It’s really something you can put your stamp on. It’s all about belonging.
Photo: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE, Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images