warning - Fellow 12’s, this post contains a lot of personal information and very little football so – be aware and continue at your own discretion.
It was the end of summer, 1979, I was 22y.o., have just finished my military service and it was time to put on a backpack and spend half a year traveling the world before I start my first term at the university. This is an old Israeli custom – use half the money you saved during your service to travel the world and half to keep you afloat on your first year in school.
My destination was the US. About a month after arriving I was staying on the weekend with some remote family friends in New Jersey. We went out Saturday night and got home late "under the influence". I woke up on Sunday around noon went downstairs and asked if anybody would like to jump to the mall with me in an hour or two to get some stuff. They stared back at me with a bewildered look – "But its Sunday, football starts in an hour".
I stared back. What do Americans know about football?
What followed was a quick course about soccer/football. An hour later I was sitting facing the TV with my jaw hanging on my chest. I have never seen a sport so intense and captivating even when most of the time it was a bunch of guys in different uniforms facing each other and then forming a big heap of bodies in the middle. Slowly they started teaching me the game, it’s objectives, scoring system and basic rules.
2 weeks later they took me to the park to play some friendly football at 10 in the morning. I was staring at those "less then fit guys" drinking beer on the way to the game and felt this can’t be too hard. Remember, I was 22 just out of 4 years of combat service. They asked me to play on the line and prevent this chubby guy from getting to the QB. I smiled; this was going to be fun. Over the next half hour that guy blew past me like I wasn't even there. I was running 5 miles at night 3 times a week to keep in shape. I was doing 100 pushups with the last 20 clapping hands and this chubby beer drinker was blowing me away. The guys started telling me stuff like – you have to bend over, get under him, don’t let him do this or do that. Slowly I was getting better. After an hour it started to be a fair fight. On the next move the guy managed to get to my throat and push me back. The guys told me that wasn't allowed by the rules they play and it was a dirty trick. They seemed upset and wanted to ask a penalty. I said it’s fine. I didn't know how to play football but I sure as hell know who to do dirty. On the next play I let him blow full speed on my right side. I move to my right too late and doing so my knee made "accidental" contact with his thigh. He was holding it on the ground looking up at me like he was ready to jump up and hit me but something made him think it over. The game ended shortly afterwards but I got some respect back from the guys. I also gained a lot of respect to what it takes to play football. It’s not a game of who is stronger(but it helps), it takes a lot of knowhow and skill to do it right and it never hurts if the other guy is scared of you.
A few weeks later I was watching a football game and this time it seemed much clearer. There was this team who kept throwing the ball to this guy who kept catching it. It was much clearer than all those running plays. Also, this team was a new team, they were not a top team and that appealed to my love of the underdog in sports. By the end of the game they were officially and formally MY TEAM. I was a fan of Jim Zorn, Steve Largent and the Seattle Seahawks.
When I returned to Israel there was no football to be found. No TV games, no internet and nothing in the papers. From time to time I would find something in a foreign newspaper but other than that – Nothing. A few years later one of the major hotels in Tel Aviv would dedicate its main event hall to arrange a broadcast of the Super Bowl for Americans living in Israel. I was watching football again. As years went by one tv channel located in Lebanon started broadcasting Monday night games on Tuesday. And finally internet was there and I had football.
20 years ago when my son was in kinder garden he made a friend leaving 5 minutes from my home. They arranged to meet and play together in the afternoon. I was in charge of picking him afterwards. When I arrived the dad open the door, he spoke bad Hebrew with a hard American accent. It took us 3 minutes to establish the following facts:
I have no problems talking in English, he met an Israeli girl in the US fell in love got married and move to Israel a few months earlier and he is a season ticket holder Giants fan.
I got home almost 2 hours late and smiling. Now I had someone to talk football with.
Big jump to midseason 2011. I kept track over my Seahawks over the years, we now have 4-5 games broadcasted live here by fox and espn and life is good. If there is a hawks game I watch it, if not I make sure to read about it afterwards and move on till next week.
As the 2nd half of 2011 is being played out I found myself drawn to it more and more. I read more about the team and something inside me was falling in love with it. When the season was over I told my friend – on the next trip to vegas place a bet for me – the Seahawks will win the SB on 2013. He laughs and says why not the 2012 season? – I said they need one more year to be ready.
I followed the 2012 draft and preseason closely. I didn't know RW before the draft but a week afterwards I told my wife – my football team found its future leader. She smiled and said "ohh really I’m glad for you". I deserved that for coming to her about it.
It’s now 2 weeks before the 2013 season. I've been spending an hour or two daily reading everything Seahawks for almost a year. (not easy when you have to manage your own company etc.)
My wife is still smiling and glad for me but she does mention my latest football addiction repeatedly.
I’m not smiling anymore. I have become an obsessed pain in the ass grumpy fan worried about every little thing I see that may derail the amazing wonder this team is. Being always a fan of the underdog it’s not easy to see your team turn into this incredible creation and have such high hopes for it. It has been building for a year and a half for me and this season is about to start. I feel like two weeks before my first son was born.
I’m an old and savvy dog. I commanded men in war when I was 21 and ran my own companies for 3 decades. I’m a known skeptic, I always look sideways and backwards, I check myself constantly and never buy into hype.
And I’m here, excited like a schoolboy before his first date, believing that I am about to experience something very very special.
This team, from FO to the last ball boy is special. Yes, they are tough, talented, skilled, well trained etc. etc. etc. but they are more than that.
THEY ARE SPECIAL.
Don’t ask me to explain what is it that makes a very good football team special. I have no idea. I just know they are. Win the SB or not – they are.
I believe that this team will be studied in the future. Its name will be known. Teams will try to unveil what was it that made it special and try to implement it.
Now, it is time for those 2013 seahawks to get ready for their last dress rehearsal in Green bay. Don't miss a minute of it. You'd want to tell your children about that Seahawks team in a decade or two.
I’m done. My wife is laughing when she sees me typing fan posts. She never thought I'd ever be that guy. It took a very very special team to make me one. My Seahawks.