October 20, 2009

Concerned but Powerless

The life of an NFL fan is a curious one. It's been said by writers more talented than me that being a fan is a decidedly one-sided relationship. If you think about it, all of us are kind of like creepy stalkers, only our object of obsession is an NFL team rather than another person.

We follow them around. We plaster their pictures on our walls. Our best (and worst) moments with them are lazer-etched into our memories. We write blogs about them and we swoon at the slightest acknowledgement by them that we exist. I've been obsessed with other people who had little interest in me before, and I've been obsessed with the Seahawks for over a quarter century, and I can tell you that the emotions involved are VERY similar. Just like how getting some attention from that special someone would make me giddy for days, a Seahawks win makes me a reasonable facsimile of a happy person for a few days. You can imagine how painful the opposite has always been for me.

If we weren't the paying customers who help keep the whole enterprise afloat, Matt Hasselbeck, Lofa Tatupu and the rest would get restraining orders filed against the Twelve Army. Our feelings are too intense, and frankly pretty inappropriate under ANY other circumstances.

And we're lucky. The Seahawks organization and players treat the fans VERY well compared to a lot of other NFL teams. The players and coaches give a lot of love to the 12th Man publicly, and despite the disappointing start to this season, Paul Allen generally puts a competitive team on the field that isn't replete with felons and human flotsam.

So why do the losses hurt so much worse this season? I think it's the gnawing, awful feeling that this core group that brought us so much joy and success probably isn't going to hoist that Lombardi Trophy. Anything can happen in any season, but I can't shake the idea that players like Hasselbeck and Walter Jones aren't going to be there when Seattle finally conquers the NFL. It's a terrible feeling compounded by the injustice of XL.

Yeah, yeah. A lot of you are saying "get over it" right now... even a lot of Seahawks fans. It's so difficult to explain this to anyone who isn't a long-term, die-hard Twelve. We put up with decades of being treated as the NFL's second-class citizens, and finally in 2005 everything clicked into place. Then when we could taste the validation that would then DEMAND respect for us, for our team... When we could almost grasp that Lombardi Trophy that would forever make us, if only for one year, Champions... Then it was taken away by forces out of our control.

It wasn't a Bartman or Buckner situation. It was far worse because the officiating fail was so obvious and so consistently comprehensive that practically anyone not wearing Yinzer blinders could see that we got screwed.

But even with that pain lingering, playoff trips in 2006 and 2007 made me think "redemption is near! revenge, payback and respect are nigh!" Now that idea is fading away like Marty McFly's siblings, and I'm having an awful time dealing with it in any constructive or mature way.

So we trudge on as fans, even though each loss knocks that much more life out of us. We beg for hope, even if it is a pathetic mental placebo, because we don't want to face the painful past or the uncertain future.


Lloyd said...

You put words to my thoughts, DKSB.

Last year was especially tough for me, because I had such high expectations coming into it. I thought that even with all the injuries at WR we should be able to fight our way into the playoffs, on the backs of our strong D and their 5 predicted shutouts.

High expectations and low performance are a miserable combination for me. During each loss, I would become surly to the point of potentially alienating those that I love. Plus with MH leaving (being pushed out) I felt like I was losing a member of my family. About halfway through the season, I came to the realization that I had to detach myself a bit. Now I don't get so low after the losses. But I'm afraid I will not be as high when they finally start winning again.

stallz said...

Right on, you nailed it. I'm feeling the exact same way. It's very frustrating knowing how powerless we are, and also knowing that we're a long ways away from getting another chance like we had in 2005, when the NFL decided we weren't cool enough to drink from the punch bowl.

Andrew said...

Sadly, the losses have become easier to take. And that, in itself, is a sign that the team is in longer-term rebuilding mode. Last season's loss to Buffalo followed by that gut-wrenching loss to San Francisco was enough to put me into depression. This year the Chicago loss sucked because I was there. But the last two losses have been easier to take -- and I don't like that. I'd rather be upset when my favorite team loses than mildly displeased. Then again, I feel creppy caring so much.

Bill McCready said...

Dude, seriously, that was the most articulate, reflective, effective, soul cleansing rant I've seen from a fan of any team, much less my team, ever.

You bring a humanity to the plight of the Twelve Army this past few seasons, connecting to the current gut wrenching circumstances that don't even allow for, "Well, at least we'll get two good draft picks..." as consolation. What a time for a Bronco resurgence. Gaahhh.

I can only take consolation in the fact that both the Bears and the Packers are having a worse emotional year, watching Favre eviscerate them both emotionally week in and week out. I want someone else to feel worse than me!!!

The only thing you've left out is, for Twelves of our vintage, the pain in our hearts at watching one of our early heroes, Jim Zorn, become the public whipping boy of the Redskin franchise that needs an ownership transplant in the worst way. Snyder is the next Al Davis/Jerry Jones clone, and instead of calling for Zorn's head, the entire city of DC needs to rise up and take back their team. At least our ownership isn't completely enamored with seeing his name in the paper and buying expensive, mismatched free agents.

Keep up the good work, DKSB, we true blue (and green) Twelves feel your pain, and thanks for putting it to words for us.