I grew up in the near west suburbs of Chicago, as a Cubs Fan. That's context for everything coming below. Let it sink in for a second. Now, please bear with me -- if you take the time to read this, I hope it'll make sense and maybe it will lead to us 'Hawks fans coming together in a slightly disturbing time. Allow me to explain:
In my early youth, I was drawn in by the sight of NFL football and a totally gorgeous little blue-and-green bird drawn in Haida style, on a silver helmet. There was some left-handed guy throwing a brown rugby-looking ball to some lanky dude (number 80) with high white socks, running all kinds of weird patterns on a huge green field. I heard the name "Seahawks" and from that moment, there has never been a doubt who my football team was. As a Cubs Fan, loyalty has been a major personality trait.
For some reason, though I lived and grew up in Chicago throughout the 1980s and a big chunk of the 1990s, I wasn't overcome with Bears fever and stayed loyal to my blue-and-green boys from Seattle, for many more reasons other than the colour of their uniforms. In basketball, I wasn't overcome with Bulls fever, either; and for whatever reason I became a die-hard SuperSonics fan. My heart broke when the Oklahoma franchise began with the demise of the Sonics. It was a strange journey I had embarked on, without ever knowing why.
In the mid-1990s, I joined the early internet crowd and wrote petitions and sent out documents for the SOS (Save our Seahawks) Campaign, all the way from Chicago, when Ken Behring was trying move the 'Hawks to LA. There were a few guys in Detroit and myself who participated from the midwest and it was a thrill to hear that Paul Allen decided to come through in the aftermath. I gave insane props to Mr. Allen and still consider him to be a legend. And I respect even his Microsoft role a great deal, though I happen to more of an Apple guy in terms of computer stuff. He's really the best and most thoughtful owner in the NFL, on a macro level.
So for whatever reason, the Pacific Northwest was my spiritual home. And sure, I loved Twin Peaks enough to go visit Snoqualmie Falls and eat cherry pie at Maggie's diner ; I enjoyed Northern Exposure because it was shot in Washington State and employed actors local to the region; I considered Mt. Rainier the prettiest mountain I'd seen upon visiting it; I loved fir trees, crisp fall air after a fresh rain because it made me think of the Northwest, and Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Heart and pretty much everything else coming out of Seattle (even Starbucks back in the day, though I'm much more of a coffee snob now and even when visiting Seattle I find that Seattle Coffee Works or a quick Monorail espresso or Bauhaus in Capitol Hill is much more to my taste -- but I was an early adopter of the Starbucks hanging-out vibe). I liked ordering from Amazon mainly because I knew that its headquarters were an old military hospital in Seattle. I can't explain it. I'm not a Seattlite. I'm just...crazy, maybe?
I think there's a theme here. Certain fan-bases are essentially a bit loco. The Seahawks fan-base, as I've noticed over a couple of decades, is smart, eccentric, well-informed, and a bit unstable. We go nuts sometimes. Not the way most teams' fans do, but in a very particular and special way. We're good with being underdogs. We have developed an identity of being kicked around and gotten tough because of it. We have a touch of la folie, as they say here in Montréal, where I now live. I know, it's weird. I get respect for being loyal. "You're not a fair-weather fan," my Montréal friends will say. "You love those 'Hawks even though they suck. That's respectable." It used to sting, and still sometimes does (though the team's getting a lot more props these days), but I aspired to one day be able to wear my Seahawks gear with the glow of championship emanating from it. 2005 was the glory year...until it wasn't. A friend of mine who's an exec for FieldTurf was at Super Bowl XL, and concurs that the Seahawks got "jobbed" as he likes to put it. But it's all in the past. We're over it. Next season. Next game. The time will come. I'm a Seahawks Fan.
Then the Carroll era began -- and despite the ups and downs, there was a method to the madness (and it wasn't even really very "mad" to start with). The team profile crystallized. The pattern emerged. This is a bunch of Seahawk fans who just happen to be Seahawks. This is what would happen if Cubs Fans suddenly became big leaguers and put on the uniform, playing better than any previous incarnation of the team. It was the best fit, ever. These football players were plucked out of obscurity and turned into stars because they know what it means to be dissed. And they are far too talented and upstanding and intelligent to take that lying down. Take a bunch of really smart misfits who no one really believed in, and who no one really still believes in; align their tasks with their most evident skillsets; give them an absolute meritocracy of achievement, with rewards to anyone who achieved or achieves his best potential; teach them how to love each other no matter how rough it gets; teach them what it means to believe in making success a reality; and then tell them, "Go win some championships." It's a system -- it's Pete Carroll (and John Schneider)'s way, and it has really been working, culminating in this year.
And then, suddenly...out of nowhere...UH-OH.
That two syllable phrase. All of us have said it at some point in the last 3 weeks. I went down for the Giants game 2 weeks ago and even in a win I kept thinking, "Uh-oh. The offence is not doing what it should be. It's doing just barely enough against really inferior competition. Uh-oh." And for weeks now, the penalties! That 51-yard run by Gore that basically killed the San Francisco game. The one and only really good pass that Carson Palmer threw all day, with just over 2 mins left in the Arizona game. The underthrown pass that turned into the phantom interception a few seconds later. The holes that aren't opening up for Lynch as the O-line collapses around him. The mysterious and complete absence of Percy Harvin (apart from two awesome plays against the Vikings) from now until infinity, as far as we are concerned. The injuries creeping back into the picture. The feeling that the defence is getting frustrated in holding up more than their end of the bargain, every game, every time...Uh-oh. UH-OH.
The unthinkable upset about to happen. The Falcons score an unbelievable touchdown. A perfect, crazy-good-field-position recovery of an onside kick. Over a minute left with the ball on the 11 yard-line. In spite of everything, with a Falcons win, the major goals can be achieved by proxy. The division crown, the home-field advantage for the whole playoffs, the express tickets to New Jersey in February...and...UH-OH.
Interception? 49ers win? The Seahawks are down to their last game with the possibility that this year of dominance could result in anything less than the 1 seed???? How? Why? UH-OH!!!! Something karmic is going on here. At least, it feels that way. I've had this feeling before. I don't like it. I'm robotically repeating "uh-oh" over and over again.
I've seen Dikembe Mutombo screaming in joy on the ground after game 5 against the Sonics in 1994. I've seen Bartman screw up Moises Alou 4 outs away from a World Series appearance. I've seen "We want the ball and we're going to score!" before a flash of green-and-gold going the other way. I've seen Testaverde's WHITE helmet cross the goal line and eliminate the Seahawks from playoff contention. And now I've seen the officials claim that Doug Baldwin's arm is made of FieldTurf (shameless plug for my friend) or some other kind of rubber. There are many more nightmares from whence those images come...
But it's time for any of us (all of us?) Seahawks fans to do something we don't tend to do quite as well as other franchises fan-bases. We're not Cubs Fans (well, except maybe me). We need to release our collective tension. We have to help our team, who's built to resemble us, to believe like us, to represent us...they need us to get that "uh-oh" out of our heads. How can we do that? I'm open to suggestions from all of you. Here are my thoughts on the matter:
Whatever it takes, let's not forget something now: we are 3 wins away from playing in a Super Bowl again. We are 4 wins away from winning it all. This team, with essentially this coaching staff and most of the current roster, already in two seasons has had winning streaks of 6 games (with playoffs last year), 4 games (to start this year), and 7 games (the middle of this season). Can we put together one more 4 game win streak? Can we do that?
Is doubt creeping in? Are we thinking "uh-oh" instead of "uh-huh" as a response?
I'm of the opinion that we should gather our positive potential and send it to the team with a response of "uh-huh!" Tweet the players and coaches. Facebook them. Instagram them your positive vibes and pics. Post on SB Nation. Write comments on articles all week. Put up your signs and posters anywhere they can be seen in public. Bring the energy in droves to the CLink next weekend. Turn on the TV sets and computers and believe as you're watching that you are participating in history. One person hoping for something is just a small voice, desperately swimming upstream. Like the mighty salmon that are native to the Pacific Northwest, we Seahawks fans have grown accustomed to swimming upstream all our lives. On the cusp of greatness, let's now do it in the largest group we've ever had. Let's be our best and cheer on the Seahawks to do what they set out to accomplish this season. We can actually make the river flow in reverse, if we let the team know how much we believe in them. It's still in grasp. Let's believe. Can we do that?
Uh-huh. I know we can. Merry X-mas and Happy Holidays! Let's make Sunday one to remember. Go 'Hawks!
via blog.seattlepi.com (Getty Images)