Author's note: Kenneth's recent post about how May is The Most Nothingest Time Of The Year inspired this loose recap of the 2012 season, told through selected highlights shared by a father and son. It doesn't have much of a point besides to help you pass your time and warm your heart while we wait another squipthrillion days for the Panthers game. You're very kind to read it.
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When my seven-year-old was just four, his closet gained an old Shawn Alexander kids' jersey, a hand-me-down from his older brother, who'd received it in turn from an older cousin. Three years later, it's more than ancient: The front "number" now reads 3 ' and the name on the back "spells" Alcxar ler. The colors are faded. Not sure it says Seahawks on it anywhere, anymore.
That's probably because the boy wore his tattered jersey to preschool, throughout kindergarten, and into first grade, even after growing out of it. The timing couldn't be better. Number 3 is his new favorite anyway.
See, the boy likes baseball just fine, but he doesn't own as much as a single M's T-shirt.
The boy has played soccer every year, and he likes it just fine, but he can barely sit through an entire Sounders game.
The boy is actually pretty good at basketball, and he likes it just fine, but I imagine he sees the Sonics exactly like a family trip to Legoland: "That thing Dad always says is going to happen but never does."
The boy is happy to root for his cousin's Red Sox, or the underdog during March Madness, and all sorts of Huskies teams, but he almost always checks to find out who I'm supporting first. On the morning of February 3, 2013, however, he needs no instruction: "We're for the Ravens today, Dad, right?"
The boy GETS football. In a way, he also gets me.
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B.C.: Before Chicago
Week 1, at Arizona. It's actually the day of the boy's birthday party. It's a bowling party, that ends in the afternoon, as the fourth quarter begins. For the last time, the boy ignores the Seahawks game. He didn't really miss that much.
Week 6: vs. New England. I get home from the CLink to shouts of "We won! We won! I saw the last pass!" The evening is peppered with hugs, smiles, dimples, and "What was it like, Dad?" The plan to take him to his first game is hatched.
Week 7: at San Francisco. School night for him, work night for me. Nobody gets to watch it. Just as well! I'm not really even sure that game should count anyway. What game? Exaaactly.
Week 10: vs. New York. "Dad, the Jets are very bad, right?" "Yes, sweet boy, they are." "Do they have a quarterback as good as ours?" "No, sweet boy, they really really don't." "Good."
With each passing week, the boy invests himself a little more. Wins lead to family celebration; losses lead to a talk about perspective, and how the important things are really to play hard, to savor success, and to learn from failure. Thank you, football.
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The Bears game
It's time for kickoff in Chicago, early November. The boy doesn't fully realize it, but the season is on the line. Lose this game, and the Hawks are 6-6, on the outside looking in at the playoffs, with one road game and three divisional bouts ahead. Another 8-8 season is peeking its plain head around the corner.
Boy: "Mom, I'm going downstairs to watch the Seahawks game with Dad!"
Dad: /pumps fist
The game is competitive, and soon enough, it's halftime in Chicago. Some dead time gives us a chance to chat. Just the week before, the Miami sprinklers' interruption had elicited an eruption of laughter from the boy and me. He told everyone about it all week.
Boy: "Dad? Are the sprinklers going to go off again?"
Dad: "Heh. Probably not. That sort of thing doesn't happen every week."
Soon enough, we've just about exhausted the fourth quarter, and the Bears are ahead by 4. Win Probability is beginning to stomp on hope in one father's mind.
Boy: "Are the Seahawks the better team this time?"
(He's remembering parts of the Dolphins game again, during which he was rightfully informed that the Hawks were the superior squad. Maybe his dad whined a little about a call here or there. Maybe the boy parroted "How is THAT a penalty!?" after Earl Thomas had the audacity to graze Ryan Tannehill's helmet.)
Dad: "I don't think so. The Bears are pretty good. But that doesn't mean we'll lose."
Boy: "I think we'll win. We have Russell Wilson."
Mind you, this is before Russell Wilson actually became RUSSELL WILSON.
In fact, this little exchange comes a few scant moments before the official transformation. Most of us on this blog knew already that Wilson was going to be good, by this point. Even if many of us had been mystified by the decision to bench Flynn and go with the rookie (I plead guilty), we'd seen enough by Week 13 to know that Wilson was going to be more than adequate. Maybe even outright good.
Well, not to brag, but my boy wasn't settling for "good." He knew DangeRuss was going to be great. Oh, don't get me wrong: he was delighted with the epic drives Russell put together at the end of the Bears game. But was he surprised? No.
Anyway, you know the rest of the story. Euphoria, dejection, euphoria, concern for Rice, euphoria again -- as the Bears game ends happily, one seven-year-old fan files away a pair of game-winning drives as "just something the Seahawks do."
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Wussell Wilson In Weel Wife
The boy is brilliant, sort of scary brilliant actually, but he's still seven. When he gets over-excited, there's still a chance that the English language's R's and L's morph into W's.
Walking to our first Hawks game ever this year -- Rams in December -- is when those pesky consonants are shoved aside.
Boy: "I can't believe we're going to see Wussell Wilson! In Weel Wife!!" Sheepish look ensues. "I mean, Russell Wilson."
Dad: "Wussell Wilson?"
Boy: "Is he the best quarterback?"
Dad: "Who? Wussell... Wilson?"
Boy: (eyes twinkling) "IN WEEL WIFE!"
We laugh. Later, we laugh at the Rams' excuse for an offense. We yell when the Hawks' defense comes on the field (yes, that's him in the photo with the giant capital D, that goes with his cousin's -|-|-|-|-, both of them sitting up in the 300 level). We cheer. We eat pizza. We keep tabs on the Niners game. Finally, we joyfully raise our hands in unison when RW steps into the end zone for an almost-historic touchdown.
During the trek back to the car afterward, we talk about the lean years of the 90's, the playoff runs of the last decade, the elusiveness of even a single championship, the travesty that was XL, the seismic BeastQuake, and the upcoming playoffs. It's getting late, and the walk is long. We hold hands and chat for a mile; though it's nominally cold outside, it's pretty warm on the inside.
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Atlanta 30, Seattle 28
The drive home from our once-raucous, now-stunned party location, on January 13.
Boy: "When's the next game?"
Boy: "It was a good year, right Dad?"
Boy: "Dad, will the Seahawks be in the playoffs lots of times? I think they will."
Dad: "It looks real good, kiddo, but there are no guarantees. But you're right. Lots of times sounds right. It looks real good."
Boy: "Will they win a Super Bowl someday?"
Dad: "Yes they will, sweet boy. Yes they will."