October 19, 2015
Panthers 27, Seahawks 23
Have you ever been in a situation where it hurt to be around another person, but you knew that it would hurt more to completely disconnect from them? It could be with a friend you wish was something more. It could be with an ex you vainly hope for reconciliation with. It could be with a family member or a friend with whom you knew the relationship was harmful or toxic to one or both of you.
The smart thing to do- The RATIONAL thing, the act of the realist - is to say "I'm sorry. I deeply care about you, but I just can't do this anymore." In the long run, you'd be better off. But I'm guessing that for most of you, like me, this is almost impossible to do in practice.
This is the point I've reached with the Seattle Seahawks. I can't walk away from them- I can't disconnect- but I'm beginning to worry that it's corrosive to my mental health to continue investing my heart and soul into them.
I'm addicted to hope. The hope that things will get better, the hope that real change is possible, the hope that relationships thought to be shredded can be mended. I couldn't survive as a pessimist or even a realist. Hope is oxygen to me. Without it, I'd suffocate. For the longest time, hope of a better future fueled me. I hoped that things would get better after I transitioned. They have (in spectacular fashion), but now without that massive life goal in front of me, I've been left wondering without much certainty "Now what?" I've started drifting a bit.
I wonder if that is what has happened to our team. I know that for me, the 30-year quest to finally win a title became an obsession. The final victory of Super Bowl XLVIII was unfathomably cathartic. We had reached the pinnacle of the game that is our national obsession. We were no longer a punchline. I could exhale. I could relax. Of course, the team couldn't. And they didn't. Up until the moment Malcolm Butler stole our dreams of an Emerald Empire, the Seahawks fought and clawed like hungry contenders, not fat and happy Champions coasting on past glory.
After yet another stunning 4th-quarter collapse, we are left with nothing but unpleasant questions. The team isn't shitty. A shitty team wouldn't have led three undefeated teams going into the final quarter this season. The pattern is maddening but inescapable- Once we get deep enough into the games, the offense can't sustain drives. The defense, which resembles its old self for the first 3/4ths of the game, crumbles.
The team isn't old or lacking talent. All of the core starters are in the primes of their careers. Is it poor conditioning? Maybe. Is it poor play-calling, as the "Fire Bevell" brigade screams during and after every loss? Perhaps. Is it a weak, poorly constructed offensive line? Plausible. It's disturbing to think that it might be all of those things at once. It's even more unsettling to wonder if the team itself isn't sure what the diagnosis is, let alone what the cure might be. From 2012-2014, Seattle consistently wore the enemy down as games dragged on, and either ended up physically dominating them and/or capitalizing on a catastrophic mistake. This season, they are the ones crumbling- They are the ones who have someone else's will imposed upon them. They are no longer the ones who knock.
Last week, I talked about how this season was starting to remind me of 2004. Six weeks in, that's no longer true. Already, 2015 is WORSE than 2004. We're already had our Rams collapse. We've already had our Cowboys implosion, and the season is only a month-and-a-half old. I'm starting to wonder if a better historical parallel is 1985. The Seahawks came into that season as a trendy Super Bowl pick, but underperformed their way to an 8-8 finish, alternating 2 wins with two losses throughout the entire season. The 2015 Hawks are 3/8ths of the way onto producing a distant photo-negative of that forlorn campaign. In fact, we can only hope that Seattle replicates the '85 pattern for at least another fortnight (That would get us to midseason at 4-4).
There is still a flickering light in the distance, but it feels like we are looking at the Sun from the surface of Pluto. Beat two other flawed teams with losing records, and you get a stretch of three home games against the Cardinals, Niners and Steelers. If you come home at 4-4, you still have a fighting chance at a wild card spot or even another NFC West title (If you sweep Arizona).
Next is Santa Clara. I think it's actually a good thing that it's a short week against a familiar, hated rival. The Seahawks should have Bobby Wagner back on the field, and they are still a better team than the Niners- Forgive me if I hope that we enter the 4th quarter trailing and win on a Hauschka kick at the final gun, but blowing so many late leads has me a little shellshocked. If Seattle can't get properly motivated for a trip to the Bay Area against the Red Menace, this season will effectively end before October does.
I'm sure a lot of you have already given up. There is certainly plentiful evidence to support that decision. It's probably the correct and rational one. You'll have three more hours free on Sundays! Yay! Take up a new hobby! May I suggest cross-stitching?
Me? I'm too far gone, and I've never been any good at letting things go. Often, I do this to my detriment. But man... When I actually end up being right, when my optimism ends up being justified? There is no better feeling in the world.
I'm choosing to stay here in the asylum, and it looks like there are some rooms opening up. Who wants to join me in sentimental, irrational insanity?
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