I would like to express my appreciation to the Seattle Seahawks for their impeccable timing.
The Seahawks are playing in the Super Bowl. I am filled with all too unfamiliar feelings. I am a lifelong Seattle sports fan, and like others, quite accustomed to various levels of disappointment. We've had our moments, but they have been short-lived and generally followed by long seasons of hopelessness. This time, it feels different.
During the 2005-06 season, the Seahawks brought about one of those peaks at an ideal time in my life. I was dating my now wife, Ashley, who comes from a basketball family. She is competitive and knowledgable of sports, but she never really paid much attention to football. That changed when we made the drive from Salem, OR to watch the 37-12 victory over the Cardinals in week three using my brother-in-law's season tickets. Experiencing the 12th man and the atmosphere of what was then called Qwest Field for the first time made her a fan. As the season progressed, we spent our Sunday afternoons in my sister's apartment watching Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander lead the way to an NFC West title and eventual NFC Championship. Though she already understood the basics of the game, I enjoyed teaching her more of its more complex rules and intricacies. As the Hawks pushed through the playoffs and reached the Super Bowl, her fate was sealed.
And then they lost, and a slow spiral back to mediocrity began.
Fast forward to 2013-14, and eight years later the Seahawks are back. Our lives have changed. We watch most of the games from the living room of our own home. My screams of triumph are muted as I dare not wake our two napping toddlers, my fist pumps transformed to rather vigorous bounces for our infant son. It is too complicated and expensive for Ashley and I to make it to a game together these days, but I still try to make one each year. This time around, my dad and brother made it from Idaho to join my brother-in-law and me for their first game since the Kingdome days. We lost our minds during the comeback from a 21-0 deficit against the Buccaneers in week nine.
Our daughter, Grace, is four. She cheers for the Seahawks and loves to say "First down!" with her daddy, but this girl takes her princesses seriously and can only grant the team so much of her royal attention. Rory is our five-month-old son. He's not there yet. But two-year-old Owen is obsessed. Hook, line, sinker, toss-him-at-Pike-Place, caught up in Seahawks football.
We bought three much-too-large, nameless, numberless Seahawks jerseys for our children for Christmas. Owen rotates through all three of them throughout the week, playing football on our living room rug, hem dangling below his knees whenever they come untucked, with Grace cheering from the sideline. "I'm Thomas the Third! I tackle!" he screams as he dives across the room. "I'm Russell Wilson! I throw the ball, get touchdown!" as he runs and crashes into the couch or his sister for some reason.
This year, Ashley holds a knowledge and interest of the team and the game that brings me nothing but joy. I love that she befuddles her friends with obscure football references and passionate opinions about players. I love that she is actually interested some of the time when I babble on about my fantasy team, the article I just read, or the interview I just heard. I love that she can name the Seahawks long snapper and knows what he does. I love that she puts on her Matt Hasselbeck jersey for game time. I love that she convinced her parents that "Yes, a Russell Wilson jersey is what he really wants for Christmas." I love that she can't help but share the NFL bad lip reading video because it's so hilarious when Jim Harbaugh says, "I want cake now!"
Impeccable timing, Seahawks. Eight years ago, you made a lifelong fan of my wife. This year, you made a lifelong fan of my son. This time, even if things do not go the way we hope yet again, you have the youth and leadership in place that gives me confidence you will be right there to do the same when my other two children are ready.