"All lives are lost. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock."
In a way, sports ask for a lot from their fans. Actually, let me re-phrase that: Sports ask a lot from their fans. The monetary price of fandom (high-priced tickets, gear, the inability to watch out-of-market games without DirecTV, or any other way you choose to express and feed your obsession) isn't the cost that's really an annoyance to the people. I'll gladly give you $500 today for a Super Bowl tomorrow. It's the emotional price we pay that has the risk and reward that we yearn for and it's only when things are really bad that we call it "too expensive." (See: Mariners, Seattle)
In many ways the football season begins the day after the Super Bowl. Consider that your 'Day One' and the Super Bowl as 'Day Three-Sixty-Five'. (Your gut instinct to correct me about leap years, please ignore it.) That makes today the 295th day that Pete Carroll, John Schneider and the organization have spent trying to reach Day 365 while still alive and fighting. Seeing players walk, seeing players join, seeing players come and go, all with the goal of winning the first Super Bowl in Seahawks history.
That is the only reason we do this. We invested our emotions into this team unconditionally, but with the hope that at least once we would be rooting for the best team in the league. There are bumps in every road to victory, it's how you handle them that matters.
I started out thinking that I should write an optimistic piece about terrible November 25th, but that's just not possible. There is nothing good, advantageous, or hopeful about losing a game that you should have won and then potentially losing your starting cornerbacks. One of which was a Pro Bowler last year and the other of which was a sure bet to make the Pro Bowl this year. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have proven to be integral parts of the defense as Seattle has strived and achieved excellence against the top two receivers on opposing offenses. The Seahawks cut off the arms of opponents and forced them to use their heads. Without them, it's rather a mystery as to what Marcus Trufant, Jeremy Lane and the rest of the unit will be able to do.
A mystery, but likely one that wouldn't take the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes to figure out because it's almost certainly going to be a disadvantage. Optimism regarding the likely four-game suspensions of those players? No. Optimism that their losses actually did not kill Seattle's chances to make the playoffs and further pursuit of a championship? Of course.
Because while the road got harder as the league likely reigns Rhadamanthine justice for the use of Adderall, a rather mundane substance that could actually be used if adequately prescribed by a doctor, very little else changed on terrible November 25th. The Seahawks remained in the same place in the standings as every significant wild card opponent also lost. Additionally, Seattle's Week 13 opponent, the Bears, suffered perhaps a fate worse than two four game suspensions when six starters sustained injuries. Chicago has already placed starting right guard Lance Louis on injured reserve. Devin Hester has a concussion. Matt Forte, Charles Tillman, and your favorite first round pick Chris Spencer, suffered ankle injuries. Linebacker Lance Briggs was in a walking boot after the Bears' 28-10 win over the Vikings.
It's not likely that all of those players will be out, but it is likely that some of them (besides Louis) will. It is also likely that in the Seahawks potentially toughest remaining game, Sherman and Browner will play as they appeal their suspensions. It would be then that Seattle might have to win out with-out their top two corners but they'll be playing three of those games at home and the other on a "neutral" field. It is a bump, but it might not be one of those awful speed bumps that you have to swerve over slowly like you're driving a lowered Honda Civic, it might just be one of those long, smooth speed bumps that hardly impede you at all. Maybe.
Not entirely unlike the 9-2 Baltimore Ravens losing Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb.
Not entirely unlike the 10-1 Houston Texans losing Brian Cushing.
Not entirely unlike the 8-3 New England Patriots losing Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski at certain points.
Or the Broncos with Willis McGahee. The Bucs with Eric Wright and Aqib Talib. The Giants with Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, or Hakeem Nicks. The Saints with the bounty scandal. The 49ers lost Alex Smith and then decided it might be a good thing.
The point is that every team hits bumps and one of those teams that hit a bump is going to win the Super Bowl. Boxing is simple in the terms that Mike Tyson could go out there and beat his opponent without taking any hits. You don't win something like the Super Bowl without taking a few hits. This is a fight where everybody gets bloody. I guess that if we did look for a silver lining in all of this, it's that the only blood on the hands of the Seahawks right now is the blood of accusations and assumptions that the team was "cheating", though I wouldn't be quick to call it that considering the amount of PED suspensions handed down in recent years for this drug. However, Sherman and Browner are at least healthy. If Seattle does make the playoffs, they will likely have those players.
I'm not going to pretend like I am happy about terrible November 25th. It was a disaster. But disasters are followed by recovery, and sometimes it's rather quick. Maybe it could have been worse, but here's what I know for sure: I'm not about to fucking give up now.
I've toiled over the last near-300 days with the hope that Seattle was going to finally break through to that place. If I give up now, I'm just adding another 70-odd days to my next sentence of Seahawks fandom. I don't invest this emotion lightly and I don't start looking towards the draft when the team is leading a Wild Card spot in Week 12. On pretty good November 24th the road looked difficult but manageable. Today it looks like a Satanic version of the Aggro Crag, which I guess would be Mordor. But even those little Hobbits managed to (spoiler alert) screw over Sauron and liked Mount Doom so much they put a ring on it. I'm ready to see this team get their own rings and until the day comes that they are technically eliminated, my hope is there. It's the last thing we have and the first thing we reach for.
It's true that all lives are lost and that all hearts are broken, but caring is the advantage that puts humans on the top of the food chain. I care deeply about this team and this team cares deeply about making the 2012 mission a success. Neither one of us is about to give up because of this. November 25th wasn't supposed to be terrible, maybe December 2nd won't be what we assume it will be either.
I'm going to keep my hope alive that I'll still cash in on that emotional investment one day. Maybe not a day that far away after all. (I suppose that did turn out kind of optimistic.)