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.