When you think of sublime sporting moments at CenturyLink Field, chances are Beastquake, The Tip, and the winning overtime catch to send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl are some of the first that come to mind. How could they not?
All three franchise-defining plays took place in the same end zone, separated by mere feet.
The south end zone is where the glory lives, chilling where the college navy is deepest, waiting for a new Seahawk to come hang with it, to come mooch some of its immortality. Sometimes the guest is a likely hero, such as Richard Sherman or Marshawn Lynch. But sometimes it’s a Paul Richardson type. The glory does not discriminate based on reputation.
The south end zone is where athletic feats drop jaws, where conference trophies are seized, where tectonic plates are rustled, awoken to shake at least our bodies — if not our souls.
If you somehow lucked into investing long ago in seats near the south end’s goalposts, then your dividends are the envy of every Hawks fan. You’ve been paid back in everlasting memories, in anecdotes destined to be retold to great-grandchildren, in unforgettable bursts of immediate history that happened directly in front of your awed, reveling, shaking bodily host.
Because, wait, there’s more.
The Sidney Rice Patriot-beating TD. The Chop. The Ryan-Gilliam Surprise.
Many happy endings. Too many, you might say. After the fact, some of these plays begin to feel so mythical and mystical that they might as well be fake. Might as well be Hollywood endings. And they might have been, except... except the Kearse catch is too corny, too soaked in manufactured redemption. The Ryan TD pass is too farfetched. Especially with the face, the belt celebration, the unlikely comeback it sparked. The Earl chop is quite frankly a repudation of the laws of physics. It is too impossible.
So when on Sunday, Paul Richardson added to the local lore by conjuring a touchdown reception out of this throw —
— you, dear south end zone dude, who’s abided there for a decade, you went appropriately crazy. Because even though you’ve seen it all before, you somehow haven’t seen it all yet. There exists still more glory to be dispensed, more feats to be performed, more Super Bowl trips to be captured.
(Can’t let you travel north without the full clip.)
A War of Northern Aggression
But what if. What if fate smiled on you in a different way, and you’ve been a north end faithful. Maybe you’ve spent dozens of Sunday afternoons a-bangin’ on the aluminum trappings of the Hawks’ nest; maybe you’ve shredded your vocal cords beside the Tanzania-Redbox-Coinstar “decorations” that help pay for Pete Carroll.
Or maybe you survey it all in 301, northeast corner, with a view of the whole field?
Either way, you, friend, are seated atop the opposition’s Bermuda Triangle. A Triangle of
Doom Boom. It’s a haunted place where rival players — sometimes entire rival franchises — unwillingly punch their ticket to gridiron damnation.
Think about it: you’ve seen the fuckin’ weirdest shit. The kind of stuff that ought to happen once in a generation. Except — except! — it happens every couple seasons.
Exhibit One: Tate’s Totally Truthful Touchdown.
Date: September 24, 2012. Time: Full of Grace
As Steve Raible might exclaim: “TOUCH-DOWN SEA-HAWKS!”
Hey, if he wanted to have ball skills, maybe he shouldn’t have been named “Jennings.”
Exhibit Two: Kam Chancellor Legally Murders Vernon Davis
Date: December 23, 2012. Time: when the bells are tolling
To recap, on this hit, Kam contacted Vernon directly in the chest, leading with the shoulder, avoiding all contact with the head, without leaving his feet.
The flag thrown for unnecessary roughness is understandable at full speed. Watch it below, for the very first time... today.
A significant amount of violence is perpetrated. Look at Davis’ head pop backwards. He left the field crying, and left the game with a concussion, which is regrettable. You hate to see that happen to any human, even a rival human. But in reality, no flag was warranted. Chancellor was essentially penalized for being too good at football for the naked eye.
Exhibit Three: Two Points Directly From Heaven
Date: January 22, 2015. Time: 3:13 p.m.
A failed two-point conversion starts like this:
Except of course, a successful one ends like this:
In between, it looks like this:
No good reason explains why Russell Wilson’s desperation heave should’ve found the uncertain hands (look closer at the still frame above!) of Luke Willson. No good reason explains why either of the Packers’ defensive backs let it even get that far. No good reason, except dark magic.
If Jimmy Hoffa isn’t buried under the H in “Seahawks,” then who — or what — is? There is something there, and it is a bad something. Don’t be naive. Its evil can’t be contained. Its evil seeps right through the fancy carpet and infects all which is not clad in college navy.
Exhibit Four: Pow! and the Batman
Date: October 5, 2015. Time: to punch things.
A tale that can be told in graphic form.
The north end zone’s also the place where Navorro Bowman lost a season saving a playoff touchdown, where a score ricocheted off Kellen Moore’s helmet, improbably into the waiting hands of Derrick Coleman, of all people. It’s the place where Russell Wilson has snagged red zone passes from not one, but two different receivers. Other things, too, most certainly.
But wait. But wait again. Let’s reverse course and travel back in time, to an era which predates the Carroll-Wilson Hawks. When the resident evil was just getting warmed up.
Exhibit Five: Touchy Feely
Date: November 27, 2005. Time: Before XL
Finding footage of Jay Feely missing three (3) game-winning field goals against the Hawks in the 2005 season is tricky. The NFL doesn’t like to leave pretty things out there for us, in the wild, untamed. It prefers to cage them.
But I found Saturday Night Live’s parody the following week.
Jay Feely tries to land the team plane
And Jeremy Shockey’s triply priceless reaction at the time.
And one bit of grainy gold.
Feely, of course, missed every way he knew how — short, wide, in regulation, in overtime, from long distance, from up close, you name it. And the Hawks finished 2005 with 13 wins; the Giants with 11. Flip the November result and maybe the teams end up tied at the top of the conference... except that then New York owns the tiebreaker.
Exhibit Six: Tony Roh-nooooooo
Date: January 6, 2007. Time: crunch. Too much crunch.
Does this play really need an introduction or narration? You know it by heart. The fumbled snap, the big play by the big play guy, the pandemonium.
There’s no use denying the north end zone’s accursive powers. There’s no use pretending the south end zone is just another piece of real estate. Not when both locations have been dispensing elixirs all this time — one of darkness, one of greatness.
May their power last until the end of time, or of the league, whichever comes first.
So say we all.