Tomorrow night the Giants will play the Cowboys and officially kick off a new season in the NFL. At the conclusion of the game, one team will be 1-0 and the other will be 0-1. Unless they screw us all over and tie, as hilarious as that might be.
But after tomorrow night's game, there will be standings. Records. One NFC team will get off to a good start and one will erupt into a full-scale panic for their respective fan base. Today, there isn't any of that. Just like has been for much of the last seven months, the records are 0-0.
Today, the Seahawks and every other team are undefeated. By the end of Monday Night Football, less than a week away, we'll all have a record. Today is, in a way, the last official day that I simply get to believe whatever I want to believe about the Seahawks and their 2012 season. More accurately, Sunday morning will be the last official time that Seattle is 0-0 and the last official time that belief won't be replaced by reality.
Until then, I get to believe.
We've had as interesting of an offseason as I can ever remember. Signings, draft picks, and trades to put together a somewhat consistent 90-man roster that was just recently taken down to the necessary 53. Training camp, practices, and preseason games to give us an idea of who stood where. What Seattle did good. What they did bad. How they improved or in the case of some players, how their progress seemed to become stagnant and so they're no longer here.
All of that leads up to the week one game at the Cardinals with certain expectations. Those expectations have turned from what seemed like two evenly matched teams not long ago, to a belief that the Hawks should be a better team than Arizona and win, even if it's on the road. The performance of Russell Wilson so far has seemed to ignite positive belief throughout the fan base, whether justified or short-sighted or however you want to see it, a lot more people think Seattle can win this year.
Maybe even win the division.
More and more stories seem to be coming around from writers all across the country that the Seahawks could win 10 games and the division. Not something that I was hearing much of a month ago. Things quickly changed after being the most dominating team in the preseason, even if it was only the preseason, more and more people liked what they saw.
Well, this isn't really about other people. This isn't about predictions, prognostications, or who's picking who. This isn't about what they think, this is about what I think. And about what you think. This is about the 2012 offseason coming to an end and meeting the beginning of the 2012 regular season. This is my last chance to say, "Screw it" and believe whatever I want to believe.
Today I feel good. Today I know that anything is possible. That's not just the case for Seahawks fans, that's the case for the fan of any NFL team. Today, if you want to believe that your team can do anything this year, go for it. Nobody can point to any stat or win-loss record to tell you that your wrong. Those will start to come in mostly on Sunday. Take advantage of this time to feel as positive as you want and believe whatever you'd like to believe.
Nobody believed that the Bengals were a playoff team last year.
Nobody called out that the 49ers would go 13-3.
Nobody was putting big money on the Giants to win the Super Bowl after a 9-7 record that saw them sneak in the playoffs on the last day of the season.
One of the main reasons we follow sports at all is because we don't know what's going to happen. We might have an idea, a gut feeling, or thousands of pieces of evidence that point to one side being a 99% favorite. But 99% is not 100%. If it were, why would we play at all? We hold a belief that something might be improbable or impossible, up until the moment it happens but new things become possible every day.
Look around at the world of sports where a barely 21-year-old kid might be the best position player in baseball. Or even closer to home where a King became even more perfect. I had waited my whole life to see a Mariner throw a perfect game, even counted the outs as far as I could for every game I watched. If you were really lucky, the pitcher would make it to the third with a perfect game intact. Eventually you start to believe that it's never really going to happen, even if you did have the best pitcher in the game on your team. And then it does happen and you wonder why you ever doubted it was possible.
It's funny how even in science, we don't know what's going to happen next. Pluto was a planet in most of our lifetimes. The brontosaurus was a dinosaur. We are surrounded by dark matter and we don't even know what it really is. I was watching How The Universe Works on Science channel last night and they spoke about how only fifty years ago, Black Holes were science fiction.
Ideas like that make you realize that if we can turn science fiction into science fact, why is it so crazy to believe that your favorite team is going to win a championship in any given season? Look back at baseball this year and you'll see that the Baltimore Orioles are in position to make the playoffs and only a game back of the Yankees. The O's weren't only supposed to be bad going into the year, they're still not really very good this year but their record goes against everything we understand and is nearly as good as any in the American League. We can't make sense of everything that happens in sports. We can't make sense of a 7-9 team running rampant on the defending Super Bowl champions. That's why sports are sports and not a predictable movie where the guy gets the girl in the end.
In sports, sometimes that extra standing over there that had no lines gets the girl.
The word "family" gets thrown around a lot but I think people tend to start to forget what "family" really means. We know who our family is. We have our parents, grandparents, siblings, and so forth. The people we're related to. That's obvious. But we have other groups in our life that we call "family" and do we really know the significance of using that word?
When I think of my family, the people whom I share blood and a bond with unlike what I can share with anyone else, I think of people that I'll die in support of. It's unconditional. Most of my friendships haven't even been unconditional, many of them dissolved as I got older and we grew apart. As silly as it might seem to a non-sports fan, my fanhood of the Seahawks is absolutely unconditional.
Maybe it's just a word on a jersey, but I know that whether I die tomorrow or I die fifty years from today, I'll die as a Seahawks fan. If you have been a Seattle sports fan for your entire life, you know exactly what the word "unconditional" means because it's not like they've given us much in the way of rewards. If the Seahawks were our son, he is still living at home in his thirties. If the Seahawks were our dad, he'd have seemed distant for most of our lives coming back once in awhile saying "I want to try to be your dad again."
And unconditionally we come back every year and say, "I'll give you another chance."
In a way that makes us all extended family, which is probably why we bicker and argue so much. At the end of the day though, I hope we all want the same thing. We may have different ideals, viewpoints, and opinions on how to get there, but we all want what's best for Seahawks. I can't say that I like some of the malicious negativity I see towards one another from time to time, I'd be content with never having a confrontation again in my life, but I still hope we can see that we're in this together. Just like any group of fans.
This wouldn't be the first time I was accused of a "rah rah" article in regards to a Seahawks team that perhaps isn't as good as I think it is. It's true that I am an optimist. A believer. Perhaps dreaming too big and just spouting off nonsense at the expense of rationality. But that's what I am trying to say about the moments leading up to the start of another season:
When we were kids, we were nothing but idealists. Stupid? Yes. Ignorant? Absolutely. Happier? Very likely.
If the Mariners were 12 games back with 15 games to go, you couldn't tell me that the season was over. I just learned in math class that 12 is less than 15, so that means we are still in this. If we were headed into another year with a mediocre Seahawks team, coming off of a mediocre season, I certainly would've told you that the Super Bowl was in our future. Why? Because we had Jon Kitna, maybe. Or Joey Galloway. Or hell, Christian Fauria. It wasn't about being rational, it was about "This is my team. We can do it."
There wasn't critical thinking, rationality, perspective, or frame of reference. We were eight. Or ten. Maybe even eighteen. We were floating around in a sea of irrationality because we didn't have bills, man. We didn't pay the rent. Our real world was "The Real World." Our hopes were endless. Our favorite player was Felix Fermin. Go into a season and ask your dad how the Seahawks were going to do and he'd say "Bad, because they're the Seahawks."
Be asked that same question when you're twelve, going into that same season and you'd say, "Awesome, because they're the Seahawks!"
I think a lot more critically these days. I have a frame of reference. I know the players and the chances and I could throw out dozens of predictions for the year and feel confident that I'm somewhat on par with reality. I could even tell you that critically-thinking, the Seahawks stand a good chance to do well in 2012.
But in the days leading up to the last chance to be 0-0, before the wins and losses matter, before we know who is actually going to surprise and who is going to disappoint, I'd rather just sit here for just a little while and tell you that the Seahawks are going to do great because they're awesome.
Am I a "Rah Rah" fan? An idealist and optimist? Sure, I'm fine with being accused of that. Because I will believe in this team until the day that I die. I will see great things for this team until the end. I know that one day we will break this streak of not finishing the year as champs eventually and I'll be overcome with joy because this team, this city, is like my family.
Until the records are set and the standings are done, anything is possible. I believe.
(Addition to this: Is this an "answer" to what Jacson wrote yesterday? No. One thing has nothing to do with the other. If you think that Jacson's piece is the opposite of hopeful, you read it wrong. I have been working on this since before yesterday and I read Jacson's article the same time that you did. They are unrelated.)