Earlier this year, an American institution breathed its last.
The spirit of P. T. Barnum et al. lives on in a wholly different corner of the country, in a wholly different field of entertainment, where a 53-man troupe of badass artists dances across a 16-game tightrope of a season, without a net, mind you, all the while managing to furnish chunks of preposterous headline news to the local populace during the long months in between seasons.
(Ed. note: The intersection above is more than a mere symbol, it is a real place, a meeting of streets on Camano Island, north of Seattle. Some pictures are just too good to pass up.)
This column is not the first to call the Seattle Seahawks a roving circus, still two rings short of a full three, as it may be. A familiar Field Gulls graduate has taken us down the same road before.
seahawks update: still a circus— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) May 25, 2017
Come on, admit it; if you follow
P. T. Petey Carroll’s Cast of Characters long enough, you see everything, on and off the gridiron.
The officials called it a touchdown, which means it wasn’t an interception, because that’s how officiating works.
In December, a drug suspension for Richard Sherman is overturned on appeal, exactly what won’t happen to Brandon Browner in...
But first, documented malcontent P. Harvin gets a $67 million contract before playing a single down for Seattle. He scores two touchdowns in his entire Seahawks career, or one more than the amount of punches thrown at a teammate. (That we know of.)
He runs his own medical treatment, he plays when he wants, and he also doesn’t play when he doesn’t want.
This clown’s presence is such a lethal distraction that while he is on the roster, the Seahawks win the only Super Bowl in franchise history.
After recovering from a slow start to the season, the Seahawks catch fire and earn home-field advantage, through tie-breakers, because it’s more dramatic that way.
Trailing late at home in the NFCCG, the Seahawks punk the Packers with three
pies in the face practical jokes.
Seattle loses the ensuing Super Bowl in the most agonizing way possible, squandering a ten-point fourth-quarter lead, then tantalizing the fanbase with this false platter of hope disguised as a circus catch —
— before having the glory snatched away in a cruel twist that keeps the plot moving, that keeps the audience gasping.
A rundown of every fantastical event since the fateful day of February 1, 2015 would take all our time until kickoff at 1:25 p.m. this afternoon. Fast-forwarding and skipping over dozens of storylines...
...Golden Tate and Browner chased that sweet, sweet free-agent money, and they have not been adequately replaced... John Schneider pulled off a blockbuster trade for Jimmy Graham, whose usage brought more debate into the fray... Kam Chancellor held out, in vain of course, and Seattle started 2015 0-2... Marshawn Lynch broke down, came back, didn’t, did, then left to retire and unretire... Richard Sherman decided to take some matters into his own
mouth hands and berate coaches, leading to offseason trade rumors... 2016 turned into a potpourri of an impossible tie, too many injuries, and a line-leaping tactic that forced a rule change... the constant, confusing, continuous, consistent conversation around the offensive line, year after year... the Jeremy Lane and Michael Bennett statements around the anthem... culminating in Bennett’s unresolved brush with Las Vegas police.
With the comically bad entrance to the current season at Lambeau Field, you’re caught up. Carroll’s eighth season on the airwaves of your attention is underway. Same Hawk-time, same Hawk-channel.
And, spoiler alert, everything’s going to be fine. Because while the circus atmosphere can throw fans for a loop, like when it takes months to agree to a rich contract extension with Russell Wilson, or when Sherman takes it upon himself to put Skip Bayless in his place, or some ill-timed legal trouble befalls a player, the players don’t seem to find the distractions distracting. Their collective focus, come Sunday, has never seemed to flag. Their collective desire, even after getting paid, has never seemed compromised. Think of the last time you remember a Pete Carroll team half-assing it on the field. You don’t.
Maybe the Seahawks are slow starters at inconvenient times (we see you, playoff games in Atlanta and Carolina). Maybe they’re victims of nefarious circumstance (we see you, every game in Green Bay). But they’re always a good show, regardless of what nonsense is taking place on or off the field.
And let’s be real: plenty of nonsense does happen on the field, too. Seahawk fandom, thankfully, hasn’t consisted solely of news of one scandal — real or faux — after another.
Who even pulls down that catch, on third down no less, down two scores on the road? Who even turns the following play into a first down, in a road playoff game, no less?
Carroll was famous at USC for creating distractions in practice, to test the focus of his team, and probably just for fun too. Practical joke, anyone?
Snoop visit? Why the heck not?
Around a Pete Carroll team, there’s always noise. Maybe if there’s enough of it, you don’t have to tune it out — because it’s always there. Might drive the fans nuts. Not so sure it’s doing the same to the actual players.
Rephrased: the show always goes on. Not just because it must, but because we always pay for it. Not necessarily in gear or gameday tickets, although the team will continue to accept your monetary assistance. Your ticket is something else: a kind of faith.