Carolina Panthers

Spartanburg native goes from parking cars to playing for Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Landon Cohen has the best rags-to-riches story of the Super Bowl.

The NFL journeyman was parking cars a month ago in his hometown of Spartanburg. Now he’s riding in luxury buses from the Seahawks’ posh hotel to their practices this week.

Cohen, who owns a valet service with two childhood friends, had just wrapped up the busy holiday season of special events and parties when the Seahawks called. After signing with Seattle on Jan. 5, Cohen was inactive for the divisional-round win against the Panthers.

But he played 14 snaps in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay behind starter Tony McDaniel, and is expected to play a reserve role Sunday against New England.

In the meantime, he’s catching up on emails and making business calls whenever there’s a break in the Seahawks’ preparations. Cohen also has several rental properties in Spartanburg.

“Football’s a small piece of the pie. Valet’s a small piece of the pie. Real estate’s a small piece of the pie,” Cohen said Wednesday. “Hopefully I can get a lot of small pieces of the pie that make me a nice, full metropolitan pie.”

Cohen, 28, was drafted by Detroit in the seventh round in 2008 after playing at Ohio University. He’s bounced around to six teams in seven seasons, including parts of two he spent with the Patriots.

He started his business, the Valet LLC, three years ago. Cohen and his partners have ties with businesses and organizations throughout the Carolinas, including Marriott, Converse College and Pinehurst Resort, according to the company’s website.

Cohen said he’s never bumped into any Panthers’ players during their training camps at Wofford. He was running the valet stand at a nightclub one night when South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, drove up.

Cohen said he talked with Clowney briefly, but isn’t sure how much Clowney left for a tip.

“I don’t think I stayed until the end of the night that night,” he said.

Cohen often offers financial advice to his younger teammates.

“Don’t spend everything you’ve got,” Cohen said he tells them. “How you were comfortable living in college, when you don’t have a family and kids and all those things, try to continue that lifestyle as long as you can to build up a nice nest egg.”

No pressure on Brady: Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s staunch refusal to discuss DeflateGate has taken some of the air out of the controversy, as the media horde has latched on to other storylines.

The NFL continues to investigate how the Patriots’ footballs became under-inflated during the first half of the AFC championship against Indianapolis, but won’t interview quarterback Tom Brady until after the Super Bowl.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman doesn’t believe the lingering questions will affect Brady in the least.

“Zero. That controversy, like I said before, has no bearing on this game,” Sherman said. “It’s not like he’s going to get interviewed after every play about how much pressure is in the football. He’s going to out there and play the game that he’s been playing for years since he was a kid, and he’s going to have a blast doing it.”

Don’t let the door hit you: Before the Patriots could hire Belichick in 2000, he first had to be released from his contract with the Jets. And the Patriots had to fire his predecessor – Pete Carroll.

Carroll, now the Seahawks’ coach, was let go after three seasons. Though the Pats were 27-21 and made the playoffs twice under Carroll, their win total fell each season.

Carroll says he’s maintained a good relationship with the man who fired him – Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

“Robert really was a really good partner to work with back in the day. He gave me an opportunity that I will always be grateful for,” Carroll said. “He also sent me out the door too, and I remember that. We’ve maintained over the years a very respectful relationship, and he’s done a remarkable job.”

In the boonies: The Patriots are staying at a Native American-owned resort in Chandler, Ariz., surrounded by cactus and a golf course 20 miles from the nightlife of downtown Phoenix, such as it is.

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman said he isn’t surprised Belichick found such a remote location.

“I expect nothing less from Coach. I thought we were staying in New Mexico,” Edelman said. “I guess that’s the Patriots way.”

The Seahawks also are headquartered south of Phoenix, but are about 10 miles closer to the city.