I don't know how you let that sink in, honestly. I am still not entirely sure that it has, for me. Nearly three weeks since their historic (and easy) win over the Denver Broncos, the realization that the Seahawks are the unquestioned best in the world comes in snippets rather than as a complete release. Yes, that is a gross description but the truth is that when Seattle won the Super Bowl, I thought that the feeling would eclipse even the greatest physical and emotional feelings that a human can have but instead it's more like several thousand nods in agreement.
"The Seahawks are the champs."
*nods quietly in agreement*
"Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl-winning QB"
*lip curls up slightly*
"Pete Carroll and John Schneider built a champion in four years"
*wink, finger guns finger guns finger guns, click*
It's all so new and exciting, like a new season of Breaking Bad, but there are lulls of course when you're satisfied with what's happening and yet even Walter White needs to just drive to the car wash sometimes. Maybe it's just a random stranger in a far-away town that's wearing a Hawks baseball hat. A commercial for a television appearance by Malcolm Smith. A smell that reminds you of the nacho you were eating that made a huge mess when the Broncos had a safety on the very first play.
What does it really mean to know that your team is the Super Bowl champion? I don't know, but here's a few things that I have realized in the fortnight+ since the win:
It used to be that Seattle's point of pride was their place among the standings in "Most Miserable Sports Cities" lists, but just one win changed all of that. Makes you wonder if we place too much emphasis on championships...
No wait, that's the old Kenny speaking. Championships are everything and any city that doesn't have the current Super Bowl champ is honestly, well, I call them "Garbage Towns."
Trashville, Middle America
When I was leaving Los Angeles (a heap of waste unlike anything I've ever seen) to fly back home to Seattle (a city so nice it's covered in emeralds and ice) to watch the Super Bowl, I saw a considerable number of Seahawks-related shirts, hats, and other paraphernalia. This was in the LAX terminal. Yes, the gate we were at was for a plane headed to Seattle, and many of them may have had the same idea in mind that I had, but let's not forget that:
A) We were in LA
B) People wanted other people to know what team they were rooting for
We are talking about 60-80% of people in a single area in Los Angeles that were representing their affection for the Seattle Seahawks. Three years ago you wouldn't have seen half that number of people in an area twice as big in Seattle that would have been wearing that much Hawks gear.
When I walk down a street now, I want people to know what team I'm rooting for. The easiest way to do that is with a shirt or a hat, and if you don't have that, it can make conversations quite awkward.
"Yeah, let me get a venti caramel macchiato capini salami half-tall, no whip, milk ice shaving choco wig wam I root for the Seattle Seahawks, no ice, thanks."
Perhaps the least awkward part of that particular exchange was the part where I mentioned what NFL team I've loved for my whole life, but it's still important that your barista, your dog walker, even your dog, know that you're a Hawks fan. Otherwise, what was the point of the team doing so good?
I thought they were doing so specifically for me.
What was the point of even having a dog or forming relationships if not to shove it in their face that your team won the NFL championship?
I thought they existed only for this very moment.
I want to be wanted and I love to be loved. It's nice when your team is given first billing for athlete appearances and never knowing when one of your favorites will show up on any channel. I feel like even Shark Tank is a possibility now!
Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman really begin their ascent to NFL legendary status as of now, with even Malcolm Smith forever getting to be introduced as "Super Bowl 48 MVP Malcolm Smith." That's gotta be worth a Sesame Street, at the very least.
Wilson can also be seen on Charlie Rose and sharing the green room with Kanye West on Late Night with Seth Myers. Hey Yeezus don't do anything to harm my Weezus!
History and Finality
It's been a long road to get to this point, but let's just start with the calendar year that opened up Seattle's run to the championship.
Every comment section and conversation from the end of Super Bowl 47 to the beginning of Super Bowl 48, every argument about how Seattle wasn't good enough, had no history, had no titles but only had "entitled fans," that Wilson wasn't tall enough, Sherman was more mouth than action, Marshawn Lynch was more "action" than mouth, Carroll would never be successful on the NFL level, the wide receivers were mediocre, Earl Thomas was not Eric Berry, Percy Harvin was a terrible overpay, all of it could be superseded by one simple word:
Despite a lot of hype surrounding the team going into the 2013 season, it was always completely overshadowed by rain clouds of doubt brought on by fans of other teams that had zero faith in the "Seahawks" franchise.
Week 2 - The Shecheatadderawks were a flash in the pan compared to San Francisco, and over at Niners Nation, even just a picture of Quinton Patton can get eight recs in the comments section. Am I missing a meme or did they really think Patton was going to save the day?
Even after winning 29-3, Seattle didn't look that impressive.
Week 4 - There was a time not so long ago that Pete Prisco would pick the eventual 2-14 Houston Texans to beat the eventual Super Bowl champions -- okay, I feel like Prisco probably does this a lot. Of course, the Texans were 2-1 at the time and several people would have picked them to beat the Seahawks at home in Week 4. There are certain things that Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson should be able to do.
And... how not to:
Week 5 - Then of course, there's dealing with defeat. There's dealing with Sherman being "dominated" (fair enough) by T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne in a loss to the Colts. Was Seattle's secondary finally exposed to the point of being vulnerable in their strongest area?
Was Wilson ever going to unseat Andrew Luck as the league's best young quarterback. (For 95-percent of people out there, the answer is still no and I'm convinced that if Wilson wins four Super Bowls, a lot of people will still say he's not good enough to lead a team to the Super Bowl.)
Week 9 - Seahawks beat Bucs and then every article starts asking why they suck so much at 8-1.
Week 13 - 10-1 Seattle prepares for 9-2 New Orleans on Monday Night Football. But Seahawks are only "dominating at home according to the media." Hey, don't get me wrong, guys. Don't get me wrong. Seattle is a good team. Don't get me wrong. But they aren't great. They have only beaten the 49ers and that was in Week 2, they lost to the Colts, they should have lost to the Texans, guys, guys, guys. They haven't faced anyone like Drew Brees and this offense.
Saints got this.
Week 16 - Seattle loses again, Cardinals end home winning streak, Seahawks leave door open for San Francisco to win division... But if one loss breaks you, you weren't ready to be made.
Week 17 - Seattle prepares for one of the biggest collapses of all-time if they lose! Which was... never really all that likely. And so after a heartbreaking playoff loss to the Falcons, a wild run in the free agency period that included Harvin, Cliff Avril, Antoine Winfield, and Michael Bennett, a draft, a mini camp, a regular-sized camp, a training camp, preseason, more signings, more releases, more veterans, more rookies, 17 weeks, 16 games, and injuries that included Harvin, Bennett, Chris Clemons, Zach Miller, Avril, Russell Okung, Max Unger, Breno Giacomini, Sidney Rice, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Brandon Browner, Red Bryant, and suspensions for Browner, Walter Thurmond and Bruce Irvin...
After all of that, the Seahawks went 13-3 and accomplished everything they needed to in the regular season: A division title, a bye week, and homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Divisional round -
The crappy thing about beating Drew Brees once is that you can't beat him twice. Even if it was 34-7, it doesn't matter, Brees is a Hall of Famer and Pete Carroll is a Hall of Lame... errr...
"DVOA" and "Advanced Stats" nonsense are nothing that can compete with Brees's's 5000 yards and other things that the Saints probably have? Let's never forget one thing:
So which way is best? Can we actually have an idea of what is going to take place in a football game before it happens or are there too many variables to be able to do so? Are all the Field Gulls pundits the football equivalent of Rhode Scholars they fancy themselves to be? And are the Canal Street Chronicles folks just a bunch of dull-witted Southerners who understand nothing of the modern man football statistics as they were often portrayed by our "friends" from the Pacific Northwest?
Besides, the Field Gulls "pundits" (More like "bum-pits," am I astutely correct?) cherry-pick numbers to make themselves look better than they actually are. It's not as though I'm about to compare our defenses by total yards and then compare our offenses by DVOA, and only those two ways.
No, we would never do that...
Not that DVOA matters when Seattle's only real strength on defense is that they know you can't call a holding penalty on every play.
Internally, the Seahawks knew in their hearts that they had already won the championship once they had gotten past the 49ers. Oddly enough, the majority of America disagreed with them.
Super Bowl -
If memory serves me correct, 27 analysts at ESPN picked the Denver Broncos to win, while 11 picked the Seahawks. That trend continued with the majority opinion in Denver's favor at USA Today, CBS Sports, and Pro Football Focus. A "historic offense against a good defense" they said. "I gotta go with Peyton Manning" they said. "Manning's gonna solidify his status as the greatest of all-time" they said. "Manning-" you know what? Sure was a whole lot about Peyton Manning and a partial little about anything else.
I would expect nothing less than having confidence in your own team, though it's easy to call the other teams defense a blind spot in retrospect, if you were too busy focusing on your one strength.
What I'm confident in: Denver will be able to score. I expect that we get to the mid-20s minimum, and wouldn't be surprised if we hit thirty. I mean c'mon, I've watched this offense all year. On the flip side, I think Seattle is capable of scoring but it is far from certain that they will. The Denver D has played very well their last four games.
They have produced against top level defenses before No one has a better defense than the Seahawks, that's what being number one means, but the Broncos have played against top defenses already. Denver has played 5 top ten defenses this season and averaged 30.4 PPG in those contests. The last time the Seahawks scored 30 points was 7 games ago.
The Seahawks will never not be listed as the Winners of Super Bowl XLVIII and for months this gets to be the front page of Pro-Football-Reference:
They will never again by listed among the franchises without a Super Bowl championship. Pete Carroll is a Super Bowl-winning coach, Paul Allen survived cancer most likely just to see one of his teams win a championship, millions of long-suffering Seattle sports fans finally know what it's like to be on this side of the final victory.
Smith joins the history books alongside names like Santonio Holmes, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard, Larry Brown, Mark Rypien, and Doug Williams.
Wilson becomes a Super Bowl-winning QB, joining the ranks of names like Flacco, Brad Johnson, Dilfer, Simms, Plunkett. Coordinators Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn jump to the top of new hire lists for 2015, while several more assistants wait in line to see if they could possibly be the next Eric Mangini, Romeo Crennel, or Josh McDaniels.
And no matter what anyone wants to say about the names listed above, no matter how much crap someone (in this case, me) wants to talk about attaching the simple title of "Super Bowl-winner" to just about any name -- from Jesse Williams getting a ring despite not being with the team for most of the year to Smith turning a couple of fortunate opportunities into an "MVP" moniker -- it doesn't change the fact that the title will exist always and forever.
All of the shit-talking, all of the excuses, all of the denial that Seattle really was good enough to win the championship, all of the analysts that thought Manning couldn't lose during "his year"... it all pales in comparison to the finality of "The Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII."
Because you could make an argument that Dan Marino is the greatest quarterback of all-time, but you could never make an argument that Russell Wilson didn't win a championship.