January 14, 2013

Welcome to the Desert of the Real

Imagine something that you've wanted for as long as you can remember. Imagine that it's something unique and irreplaceable, with intensely personal significance to YOU. It cannot be purchased with any amount of money. You've got that picture in you mind now, right?

You don't have it in your hands yet, but you can see it. You can hear it, and you can smell it. It's sitting in the same room with you, just feet away. Imagine the joy you would feel. Imagine the anticipation that would fill every inch of your body. You never thought that you'd get to have this. You've dreamed about it, but you've never imagined it was actually attainable.

Then, half of a minute before it would be yours, thirty seconds before you could share your limitless joy with the world, it's violently destroyed right in front of you. It's smashed to bits with a sledgehammer, and the bits are set on fire. Then you are left to clean up the debris, alone. Imagine that.

That's what happened to me yesterday.

Understandably, Seahawks fans are tending to focus on the future: On the vast potential of this young team, and the boundless talents of Russell Wilson. But I'm not there yet. I still feel like there is a rat inside my skull, gnawing on my brain. I'm torturing myself with the knowledge that in some alternate reality, Pete Carroll kicked a field goal on 4th and 1... or Russell Wilson didn't take that sack at the end of the 1st half... or Lynch's TD got overturned and we got to run a few more seconds off the clock... or Carroll didn't ice Atlanta's kicker as he Norwooded the decisive field goal attempt. If ANY of those things happen, we win. If any of those things happen, right now we're preparing to face a 49ers team that we hold a distinct psychological advantage over, with a trip to Super Bowl XLVII on the line. Instead, it's over. The season is dead. Our dreams are dead. This team was good enough to win the Super Bowl, and the harsh reality is that there's no guarantee that's they'll ever have a better shot than the one they just squandered. We all HOPE they will bounce back, but the boulder has rolled all the way back down to the bottom of the mountain. It might not ever get pushed to the top. Just ask a Browns fan... or a Lions fan.

I cried after that game yesterday. The only more painful defeat I've ever experienced as a Seahawks fan was Super Bowl XL. It was worse than the 4th-quarter collapses of 2004. It was worse than the OT playoff losses to Houston in '87 or Green Bay in '03 or Chicago in '06. It was the most vivid possible illustration of the amoral cruelty of this game: Three quarters of torment, then one quarter of stirring, inspirational effort, capped with thirty seconds of sadistic torture. It was the kind of defeat that makes you feel like a schmuck for caring about anything.

So I'm at one of those vulnerable points where the jeering disdain of the jaded and cynical rings in my head. Why do I allow the results of a children's game to make me feel this awful? Why is my emotional state at the mercy of a group of people over which I exert no control or influence? How much of a fucking loser am I?

Then I remember that the wins only matter if the losses hurt. I remember that I am the one who gives meaning to this children's game, and that I am not alone. I have chosen to give this meaning, as have my brother, my Mom, my friends, and millions of other people. It's possible that the Seahawks might not ever push the boulder to the top of the mountain, but they MIGHT. That hope, and the knowledge that I will get to share that glorious moment with the people I care about, is what keeps me going.

I'll feel better later. But right now? I'm grieving. That might sound pathetic, but it's the truth. The 2012 Seahawks are gone. A lot of the players will be back next fall, but that team won't necessarily be the same, or even better. Not only are they gone, but they were snuffed out in the most traumatic manner imaginable. My heart is shredded.

So that's where I'm at today. How about y'all?


Paul Beyer said...

I think you nailed it right on the head. It was devastating and many tears were shed. I stood in the middle of my living room after the TD in both disbelief and overwhelming joy. I'm sure my neighborhood joined me in the self-chant of SEA....HAWKS! I could only compare the feeling to Game 5 of the 1995 Mariners Season. It was a surreal dream that had texture and taste. Then the pessimist said, the Falcons still have time and 2 timeouts. It was almost like I said it and then it became reality. I knocked on the my wood coffee table to avoid the ramfarts moment, but it was too late. One knocked down pass, one sack, one tipped ball...there were multiple things going through my mind. Then I said it again, "Don't call TO Pete! Don't give Bryant a chance to calm himself before the kick!!"...and then he did. I'm probably one of the many SEAHAWK fans that felt it was my fault somehow. I changed the equilibrium of sports universe with my chanting and sudden thoughts that suddenly became reality. Why did I do that...RAMFARTS! But then I realized how honored I felt to cheer for this team this year. They were so special and probably more memorable because non of us saw this coming. We knew 2005 was solid...this was different. Our future is more than bright...it is a shining example on the hill that other teams around the NFL are quaking in their knees to face. We will roll the boulder back up the hill and every 12 will be right in step with this team come July. 2012 was only the beginning of story that we all will tell for years to come.

DJJeoff said...

I hear you brother. During the kick after Marshawn's score I checked my pulse just to make sure that my heart was still working right (I literally did). It was an unbelievable high that I imagine even drugs cannot match, not having any first-hand knowledge on the subject. The whole Atlanta drive/FG fiasco that followed seemed like that moment at the end of a horror flick when you find out the killer isn't quite dead. Even still, I honestly believed that they would find a way to make something happen with the 8 seconds and decent field position they were given to close the game. I B3lieved. Right up to the moment Jones caught Wilson's Hail Mary. Then it was over. It seemed wrong, like a bad dream. Since then I've been meandering about looking for some sunshine in the dreary Upstate NY winter. I feel like I'm living the Country of Meh, on the Planet Blah. I'm trying to console myself with the thought that this team feels like the '84 Bears. On the verge of something great. It hasn't worked yet...

Matt Strott said...

I'm with you. Grieving. This has been harder than the Super Bowl loss. I fell harder for this team than I did the 05 team...they had a special kind of magic that I have not felt since I was a kid. Like one jackass announcer said right before the wheels came off, "The Seahawks look like the team of destiny." They did and I believed it. It was like getting handed a winning lottery ticket, seeing that all the numbers were correct and then realizing you bought it for the wrong date just as you got kicked in the balls. So, I am grieving for the loss of the hopes and dreams smashed all over my living room floor along with the TV remote and trying to regain my strength to do this all again next year.

Unknown said...

I'm with all of you. But this was on the defense. They could have won the game. They have given up what, four game-winning drives this year at the end? Credit also obviously goes to Atlanta for making the plays.

The defense is feeling like this right now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO_MYX_Oto0

Andrew said...

I hear you man but I usually turn to you for perpetual optimism about the Seahawks; I fully expect a bounce-back positive post about the future once you've recovered from the initial grief.

This was the worst loss for me since the 1987 Houston Oilers playoff game; but then I was an immature 12 year old. It was worse, as a loss, than the Super Bowl even. Why is not entirely clear -- but I think the SB game felt sloppy and the Seahawks did not seem destined to win at all. Sunday's game was different in its artistic sense and the loss was staggering. To see such resilience and unbelievable determination from Russell Wilson (and the entire team) was indescribably beautiful -- as much as you consider a game either beautiful or artistic.

But there also was so much hope and optimism springing immediately from the disappoinment. You are not seeing any finger-pointing or head-scratching...more it is just a matter of saying "what if" and then following that up with "...just wait til next year."

31 teams go home each year saying "just wait til next year..." but I guarantee none of those teams have as much to be excited about next season as the Seahawks and their fans do.

We'll see. Until then, we can wax poetic about Amazing Russell Wilson.

Brandan said...

Part of me puts it on the defense and the other part gives credit to Atlanta. They played fairly conservative the entire fourth quarter, outside of the pass that was intercepted. Also, the offense had a drive that they had to punt on in the fourth quarter, in part because of the Sidney Rice drop and the chop block called on Unger. At least if Rice catches it, they get a do-over on that down.

I went through the long list of “what ifs” in my head as I tried to get to sleep the night after the game and just typing them out in my blog was helpful to me, but it definitely was disappointing moreso than other losses I can remember. Particularly because I think this was a team that had the ability to win it all. I’m not sure I even feel that way about the 2005 Seahawks team until after they won the NFC Championship.

I got over it quickly by thinking about it like this. If someone came to you and said they get naming rights over your next born child (or something similarly “unique and irreplaceable, with intensely personal significance”) for the Seahawks to have a one-point lead with 30 seconds left in the game and Atlanta gets the ball on the 30. You would take that right? So up until that point, you just have to erase all of those “what ifs” and just be disappointed that the defense allowed that drive to happen and give credit to the other team for making plays. It’s still disappointing, but I feel like it lessens it a bit . . . and you just have to hope your next born doesn’t end up with a stripper name.

neurocell said...

It's been hard to go to Seahawk' sites. I haven't even read an article from Field Gulls since the game.

Ever since I was a little kid, the Hawks have been able to bring me joy. It's always hurt when they lost, but I'm able to cope, even if it takes me a few hours. Twice it was harder.

(This is not meant for pity. I'm going to state what happened so that you know what I'm speaking of. I have recovered from the first incident, and will from the second, as well.)

In March of 2005, I was hit by a drunk driver. I had a torn labrum, rotator cuff, whiplash, various muscle pulls, and a concussion (by far the worst injury.). I wasn't able to return to work for several months, and not fully for over a year. I followed the Seahawks more closely than I ever had. That loss hit me hard. I was with my nephew when we were hit. It was two days after my mother's funeral. She loved the Hawks. I was hoping that they'd win it all, in my own personal view, as a send-off to her. She would've been so happy. It didn't happen, and I felt that I'd let her down. It took a long time to come to grips with that loss, but because of a personal perception, I will never forgive those responsible for stealing that win.

Sunday was different. I'm recovering from a bilateral patella tendon rupture, and I lost another member of my family, my brother-in-law, last week. Putting these trying times into perspective, I know that a child's game doesn't mean as much as what we face on a daily basis, but it's a release. The Seahawks allow us to suspend reality for a few hours. After a win, we can cope a little better with life's curve balls. After a loss, we have to dig deep, and do our best Pedro Cerano impersonation while telling the world to ef you.

This loss hurt because we came from so far down. I say "we" because all of us invest so heavily in this team. Two weeks ago I stopped using a wheel chair. I'm ahead of schedule in my recovery, but Sunday I don't know how I got to my feet after that last touchdown. We invest so much, that when the Seahawks overcome a 20 point deficit, jumping out of a chair isn't all that hard.

Russell Wilson is already in the film room, and I'm doing PT. Not only do I feel better about the near future, but man, Johnny, does the next year look incredible.

Noah Miller said...

Definitely one is not prepared for this kind of impact but are the ironies of sport. It was way too good to be true ... Totally agree ..