September 9, 2014

The Emerald Empire Rises

For a second there, I was worried.

Worried about the Seahawks losing their season-opening game against the Packers? Fuck no. Even though Green Bay jumped out to an early 7-3 lead they were as hopeless as the procession of poor schmucks Rocky Balboa pummeled during the opening montage of Rocky III. No. I was worried about becoming one of THOSE fans... Someone who lamented their team actually, FINALLY winning a Championship.

When I got to Washington State last week, I was gobsmacked by how totally my home state had reached the level of complete Seahawks Saturation. From Kennewick to Bellingham to Seattle, the Evergreen State was EVERY bit as batshit crazy about the Seahawks as Columbus is about the Ohio State Buckeyes (even more so, perhaps). My reaction to this new reality was... odd. I realized that a non-trivial portion of my Twelvedom is rooted in my pathological desire to be contrarian. Even though I bitch and moan about it, I kind of like being a "unicorn" Twelve out in Ohio. Back home, I suddenly no longer felt special. I felt... common. Yuck. It wasn't just geography, either. I was a Twelve back in The Forgotten Years. I remembered being mocked for wearing a Galloway jersey when all my friends were wearing Griffey or Kemp. I remembered TV blackouts (and driving outside the blackout zone to watch home games) and a half-full Kingdome. I remembered the team almost bolting for Los Angeles. I remembered people throwing around the moniker "Sea-Chickens" in reference to MY team, and now many of those same folks were striding about in #12 jerseys. Before last Thursday's opener, I found myself strangely deflated.

When we got to Seahawks Stadium, I felt like a doddering old lady. It was too crowded! Soundgarden and Pharrell were too loud! It was too hot! Mehhhhhhh! Who the fuck WAS I? I retreated into routine and headed down to the Seahawks tunnel like I do before every game. I was in a dark headspace. Was my Twelvedom ruined by success? I started having some truly unpleasant thoughts along those lines. What kind of a fucking douchenozzle had I become?

Then, kickoff. I roared. I bellowed. I howled. It was the exact same way I've acted at Seahawks games for 30 years. Something was different, though. It wasn't me, or the crowd. It was the guys clad in Seattle uniforms. Holy shit. There was no doubt about it: These guys were MARAUDERS. This was the best team I'd ever seen (or I ever would see). My negativity dissolved, replaced by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Had I ever seen a player as fast as Percy Harvin? Nope. Had I seen a defense as dominant as the Legion of Boom? A Seahawks quarterback as good as Russell Wilson? A running back as ferocious as Mashawn Lynch? No, no and no. Yes, the trappings of success had knocked me off track briefly, but I was jolted into a broader perspective...

I was at the summit, and I wouldn't stay there forever. Eventually, the Seahawks will slide back into mediocrity (I know it seems impossible, but even the Sun will run out of fuel someday), and I'll still be watching and coming to the games. The increasingly ancient Seahawks Stadiuim might not even be full for every game, and the memories of these moments would degrade into something less than high definition. If I didn't savor EVERY FUCKING MOMENT of The Emerald Empire, I'd never forgive myself. I had earned this. WE had earned this. A Wilco lyric drifted into my head...

And if the whole world's singing your songs
And all of your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everyone's from now on

And that's not wrong or right
But you can struggle with it all you like
You'll only get uptight

The struggle with success HAD made me uptight. As I watched our boys systematically SLAUGHTER a popular presesason Super Bowl favorite and the best quarterback in the game, I reached irrational heights of delirious joy. This wasn't just the best Seahawks team ever. This wasn't just the best team in the NFL today. This might end up as one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport.

Is that idea THAT irrational? Someone else mentioned on Twitter that the NFL was on schedule for a new dynasty to rise. The 60s had the Packers, the 70s had the Dolphins and Steelers, the 80s had the 49ers, the 90s had the Cowboys, and last decade had the Patriots. Why not us? The last two teams to finish a season undefeated were the 1929 Packers and the 1972 Dolphins. There were 43 seasons between those unbeaten campaigns. It's been 42 years since Miami went 17-0. We're about due for an undefeated season, don't you think?

Why be uptight when your team isn't just chasing glory, but immortality? On Sunday, I flew back to Ohio, but a week touring my home state left me refreshed and newly reconnected to my Northwest roots. Oh.. And three hours of screaming last Thursday left me sounding like one of Marge Simpson's sisters too... But I flaunted my hoarse, scratchy voice as a sonic badge of honor. And from now on, I intend to relax and enjoy the wild toboggan ride 2014 is sure to be.

So we'll plan on reconvening again in January for the playoffs, Seattle?

What do you think, sirs?


Terry Sinclair said...

17-0. That's right, I said it out loud.

Terry Sinclair said...

Opp's. I mean 19-0

Sammy said...

I've seen a WHOLE lot more (and larger) Seahawks window stickers in the backs of vehicles since February. I know some of those are new bandwagoners, some are casual fans who are suddenly became BIG fans, and some are people who just updated their cars. I rest easy knowing that in my garage and house are lots of Seahawks based items that are ancient, old, tattered and faded. I have a new vehicle, so yes it is adorned with new stuff. And yes, I now own a SB shirt. But anyone who accuses me of being a recent addition to Twelvedom is free to come visit my home. :)

Richard Lester said...

I feel alot like you. We are roughly the same age and I feel like we have had a similar relationship with the Hawks and used football seasons to recall milestones in our personal life. Having lived in Seattle when the Seahawks were not the most popular team I had the same conversations with people you did my distant cousin said one time " I could care less if they left tommorow" and I wonder if he is now wearing a #12 jersey. But one thing you have to remember and it struck me when I realized it is that most of the guys our age didn't get hooked on the Hawks unless they watched them in the mid to late 80's and only knew them as the fledgling franchise they were prior to 1997 (Allen purchase)so a whole generation of kids in Washington adopted other teams. Plus there is alot of transplants in the Seattle area that brought their allegiance to other teams with them. If a kid who is in their early to mid 20's now grew up watching the Hawks they have been subject to a reasonably successful team and naturally the fan base is bigger than we remember. Trust me I get the same feeling when I go back for a visit and get pissed because I used to want people to talk about the Hawks with so bad and they literally didn't exist in the Seattle metro area back in the day. The Seahawks always had support from the sorrounding areas of Seattle which tended to have more Washington natives who were loyal even during the forgotten years I love that section of your blog it is tied to deeply to my depressing ultimately confusing early adult life when i was trying to figure life out while rooting for a perennial underperforming team. I am making myself enjoy the moment too because we both know how rare and difficult it is to win a Super Bowl and who knows we may die before we see one again. Keep up the good work and long live Jeff Chadwick!!