As a Seahawks/Seattle sports fan, I approach each season with a certain amount of cautious optimism. That is, I hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
As such, this off-season "paper champion" thing has been especially hard for me to deal with. I, for one, don't really like all the praise and attention. I like being doubted. I don't just want an Owl... I want a team who rises from the ashes of trouble, heartbreak, or worst of all, mediocrity... to smash and claw its way to the top of the pile.... catching the world by surprise in the act.
That's why last year was so amazing. The QB battle in pre-season was a pain in the ass... but it was a red carpet introduction to Russell. His first few weeks wrapped up too tightly in kid gloves gave rise to a new chorus of doubting voices. The Fail Mary. His height. Having two international-mega-super-kings-of-the-future QB's drafted 1 and 2 sucking in more national spotlight than black hole. (Not a racial joke... an astronomy joke... because those always rock.)
Then we lost to the Dolphins. The fucking DOLPHINS. Remember that? Remember later that day when the Sherm and BB news came out? Devastation. Doubt. Fear.
Anyway... it was all kinda shitty-perfect. NFL fans everywhere were ignoring us. Except for those that were doubting us. We weren't gonna make the Playoffs. We would never be able to beat the 49ers. We were cheaters. We were losers. We were Hobbits.
And then we weren't.
We didn't lose another regular season game after that. We beat the Bears at Soldier Field. We crushed (I'ma say it again): CRUSHED the next three teams we played in epic, record-setting fashion. (And that included one of the greatest sports nights of my life in the rainy cold of the CLink, screaming through the pain of a less-than-24-hour-old vasectomy as we clinched a playoff spot against our NFC West rivals. (too much information? Fuck off... this is my fanpost.)) And then our rookie QB led us to a W on the road in the postseason. And then damn near did it again.
The way last year's story ends is a tragic heartbreaker for any Seahawks fan. But for me, the build up to that was pure anxiety-filled, flop-sweat and heartburn laced Seattle fandom at its finest. I loved it... and it felt... right.
And then the offseason came and I've lost my mind itching and waiting for the next one to begin. I've lived through the emotional rollercoaster that has been the Sonics/Kings. Also, fuck David Stern. I've dealt with whatever it is the Mariners are doing. Or not doing. Specifically, the little things... like "hitting". Or "winning".
But all of that feels natural. It feels comfortable. Like a warm blanket of disappointment laced with hope. Or maybe it should be hope laced with disappointment. Okay, maybe hope dipped in disappointment and topped with chunky bits of candied sadness.
And then there's those damn Seahawks. Going apeshit in free agency and snatching up HUGE players. Weapons. Las Vegas is calling us favorites. Also, the rest of the non-evil-money-sucking-smells-like-marlboros-desperation-and-strippers world is too. The knock against us I was hearing the most often was that we looked too good. People thought too much of us. And therefore, we would probably fail.
But then... then... Adderall rears its ugly head once again. That sucks, but okay. Cliff Avril has an injury? He'll probably be okay. Marshawn DUI is still lurking? Okay, I'm scurred. Portis blew it (or didn't, if you ask his agent) and they cut him? Damn, I liked that guy.
Anyway, you see where I'm headed with this. THIS is the stuff that makes most people less excited. These things worry the common fan. They make pants fly ON.
But not me. You say things aren't perfect? You say there is reason to worry? I say, thank you. THANK YOU! That's the stuff I needed. THAT'S the stuff that tells me we have a chance. More than a chance. This team is built on guys who need hills to climb. And crowds of haters saying they're too steep.
I love adversity. Fuck a paper championship. I want the champagne-soaked-diamond-and-platinum-coated real one. I want to earn that parade.
Except, you know, let's not overdo it. I'm good now. Let's just run with it from here.