October 29, 2018
One of the weirdest/most satisfying things about being a parent is being on the other side of something awesome that happened in your own childhood. I've written in this space before about the experience I had at my first Seahawks game back in 1983, when I was eight years old. I started watching the Hawks every week after the stirring near-comeback led by Dave Krieg against the Steelers at midseason, and the regular-season finale against the Patriots was my first trip to the Kingdome. The short version? Steve Largent scored, we won and made the playoffs for the first time ever, the team came out for a postgame victory lap, it was ((LOUD)) and I was enraptured forever. When I was little kid, then a tween, then a teenager, I got to experience so many indelible moments at Seahawks games.
I got to see Largent make one of the greatest catches I've ever seen against the Bears in '84. In '86, we went to the game on a bus from the Tri-Cities, and I wowed/annoyed all the adults with my voluminous knowledge of the NFL. Then, I got to watch us shut out Pittsburgh. I was in the house when Largent DESTROYED Mike Harden, and I was there for a MNF win over the Raiders in '88. These are some of the happiest memories of my life, and easily my favorite memories of spending time with my father.
When I had kids of my own, I hoped that they would also become 12s, but I certainly didn't expect it. Three years ago, I took my son to his first Seahawks game. The ending sucked (blowing a 17-point lead to the Bengals and losing in OT), but it was still a fun experience overall for my son, who was 9 at the time. He stayed interested in football and in the Seahawks, so a few months ago I asked him if he wanted to go to the game in Detroit. He said "yeeee" and gave me an exaggerated thumbs up. Did I mention that he already has a mustache and is taller than me? Life goes by pretty fast, as Ferris once said, so I was excited to stop and look at a Seahawks game with my kid.
This time around, he was much more engaged, and much more eager to ask questions and get up close to the field and the players. Since he's a good little contrarian, he told me that my favorite player (Russ) was "overrated." I rolled my eyes at that one. After hanging around near the tunnel and then behind the Seattle sideline before the game, we went up to our seats in the 300 level. This was our point of view:
We were pretty completely surrounded by Lions fans, but there was still a healthy smattering of 12s nearby. I explained the rules of rooting for the Seahawks on the road to my son again:
1. We are here to cheer for our team
2. We're not here to boo the home team
3. Don't be a jerk
Everywhere but Cleveland, these rules have served me well, and the Detroit fans yesterday were thankfully quite tame. Our guys murdersmacking the Lions around for most of the afternoon might have had something to do with that...
My kid asked me a ton of questions, and I explained what play-action passes were, and what various penalties were. He asked me why we didn't throw more passes, and I told him all about the Seahawks' style of play under Pete Carroll - Pound them with running plays, then go deeeeep, man. After RW3's third TD pass, he admitted that Wilson wasn't actually overrated. He got more and more vocal as the game went on, and LOST HIS MIND when Justin Coleman essentially sealed the win with that late pick at our own 1-yard-line. It's also worth noting that he thought Michael Dickson's "Aussie Sweep" was absolutely hilarious once I explained how rare that sort of play was, and how the punter probably just decided to run with it (and that's what really happened!).
After the Aussie Sweep, we went down to the area behind the tunnel to try to get his Seahawks hat autographed after the game. By that time, the bulk of the Lions fans had left, so it was mostly just exuberant overjoyed 12s remaining inside Ford Field. A "SEA!" "HAWKS!" chant broke out, and he joined in with a level of emotion I rarely see from him. He asked me if it was normal for this to happen at a game, and I told him that it really wasn't - Except if the Seahawks were the road team. I could see him realizing that being a 12 was special and exciting and fun, and that being a 12 meant being connected to this bigger thing than himself. He didn't get his hat signed, but by the time we were walking to my car, he was asking when we could go to another game. I told him we could go to the games in Cleveland and/or Pittsburgh in 2019, and he was like "that would be awesome, but I want to go to a game in Seattle. That's gotta be CRAZY."
That was when I was convinced that I'd passed on the Twelving genes to my kid, who then told me he wants an "old school" 12 jersey for Christmas. The capper was when we were at dinner later that evening, and out of the blue he said "This was a really great day." Coming from a kid who likes to pretend that he's too cool for outward emotions, that qualified as effusiveness. And he was right. It WAS a really great day. It was a day that reminded me why this team is one of the most important things in my life, and one of the most central parts of my identity. It's still that central thread which runs down the center of the tapestry of my life, and at least for a while, I get to share that with my children. It might not last forever - and if it doesn't that's ok, I want them to freely choose what they are passionate about - But I'm sure savoring this time.
I hope y'all are, too. Because after an offseason of bleak attrition, and a shaky start to the regular season, there were a lot of folks out there predicting our team to tumble into the Top Pick Abyss. But like Stacker Pentacost, it sure looks like this franchise found some ways to cancel (or at least postpone) the apocalypse. Six weeks ago, this season had a whiff of 1992. Today? It smells more like 2012. Running the ball 40+ times a week. Pummeling the enemy, breaking their will. Russ being efficient as FUCK and accurate as an atomic clock, even when firing it deep. The defense might give up yards, but they've reacquired the invaluable knack to come up with dramatic stops and impeccably-timed takeaways. They also seem to be having fun - Which I know is way easier when you're winning - But these guys seem to have gelled as a group, and their forward momentum is building every week.
It really feels like it's not just a playoff spot that's in this team's future: It might be something more than that. Maybe not a championship, but something special. Even seasons without World Championships have had unforgettable moments: The Romo game, The Beastquake, The Freezer Bowl in Minneapolis, etc. When that special thing happens, whatever it may end up being, I'll experience it alongside my little 12, and the circle will be complete.
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