I originally posted this pre-season (Aug. 2014) now it’s post season (Jan. 2015) and tomorrow eve at 5:15, the Hawks will play to a packed house bent on causing an earthquake – and I get to be there. My first game at Century Link looks to be an epic one. This season has been as hard fought as any, complete with villains, adversity and hereos. And here in the northwest, we wouldn’t expect it to be any other way. #gohawks!
It’s far past my bedtime, not that I’ve had a consistent one in the past decade. I just can’t go to sleep. I’ve got my boys on my mind. No, not the three that I’ve carried and held through countless nights while they couldn’t sleep. ( I think it’s very possible that the moment I became I mom I gave up my pass to ever have a good nights sleep. Ever.) Tonight it’s my boys in blue and green, and/or white and blue, or gray and neon green–all good choices. Tomorrow night is their first pre-season game. In Denver, no less. Many will say these games don’t count, it’s not the “real” players or the finalized team that will spend sixty brutal minutes on the turf. My eleven year old son, whose knowledge of football and its’ every minutiae prompted me to suggest he start his own YouTube football show, tells me to relax every pre-season game. More like “Mom, you don’t have to yell at every play!!” However, I tell him every time (-and seeing this pattern I think maybe I need to come up with a new comeback) that this is only his third year as a real, invested fan, and that this is in my DNA.
It was 1976 when Seattle got it’s first pro football team. I can tell you with full assurance that even though I don’t have memories of that year, being that I was four, that I couldn’t have cared less. My parents, though? My dad had played football in high school, at Lewis and Clark in Spokane, and graduated to spend his time at Eastern Washington College (before it became a U) split between playing football, working, and earning his teaching degree. Once my parents became an item, my mom then spent her time at EWC split between watching football, and earning her teaching degree. So when 1976 rolled around, their once upon a time became a family past-time. My first memories of Seahawks football games all revolve around one sense: noise. You could not have convinced my mom that a large and looming mountain range separated our home in Eastern Washington from the fledgling Seahawks home, the Kingdome. Her cheers (screams) and coaching points (yells) bounced and echoed through our home like a pinball machine every Sunday, every quarter, every fall, through my tightly closed bedroom door. A little secret here, though a Seahawks fan by blood, born into it, sports (of any kind) had no hold on me until I turned 13. Then I liked basketball, for a long time; the pace, the noise, the excitement, what’s not to like?
The Seahawks of 2014 little resemble the wild west days team of the era of the 80’s. Ah, the good old days, with heroes like Largent and Zorn, Kreig and Ground Chuck. That’s when football caught my eye. It was a combination of the old school tough as nails but heart of gold coach and the no holds barred talented charismatic West Coast underdogs story that had me. At least at the national level. The draw of the game at every other level however, including high school, in which my dad coached defense at my alma mater, that eluded me. Here’s where I may lose some of you, I was a cheerleader from 7th-12th grade. I loved it, and being part of that squad made some of my favorite memories. The whole concept of team and community and the deeper analogies of fighting through adversity that I embrace as an adult began then, on the sidelines. So though we didn’t get much R-E-S-P-E-C-T for our work, we rose and fell with our teams just as much as any fervant fan in the crowds.
I chose to go to college on the west side (that’s Washington lingo for Seattle-ish) at PLU. A treed oasis nestled in urban Parkland (basically Tacoma), Pacific Lutheran U had a (winning) football program unrivaled in the area, due to an iconic coach, Frosty Westering. Those sometimes rainy, sometimes sparkling sunny Saturday afternoon fall games made football personal to me. With EMAL (Every Man A Lute) and ‘attaway’ cheers, Frosty had a way of injecting joy and love and sportsmanship into a collegiate contest, making it- more. Everyone knew Frosty, and loved Frosty. In many ways, Pete Carroll and Frosty’s legacy have much in common. Sunday afternoons if I was in my dorm room, and later in California in my home, newly married, I had the Seahawks on, or whoever was second best in my estimation, simply because the sounds of the game were the sounds of comfort, home and family. And, yeah, I’m still talking about football.
I get that not everyone is as emotionally invested in football, and that my experiences with the game cast a rather lovely glow around our national pastime. But that’s the draw, isn’t it? That in a room of ten Seahawks fans, watching the same game, there will be ten totally unique opinions and feelings and perspectives. And if you have fans of another team in the same room, it may be worthwhile to watch separate TV’s, depending on the rivalry. Speaking of which, I cannot convince my son of the fact that growing up in my era forever made the Raiders (big meanies), the 49ers (just because they had Joe Montana doesn’t mean everyone had to pick them as their favorite team in school; where’s the loyalty people?), the Broncos (sorry, John Elway bugged me), and Dolphins (can’t remember why) forever rivals of the Hawks in my estimation. And yes, I do know that everyone called them the Sea-Chickens behind their(my) back until very recently. I know who you are.
This is not a very good bedtime story, now I’m all caught up in the glory days of seasons past, reliving the memories of…..well, actually, here’s been the hardest part about being a Seahawks fan. (Not as hard as being a Mariners fan, someone reminded me last week). That is the low self-esteem complex that previously shrouded the Northwest national sports teams. Our state motto: “Maybe next year.” Along with: “We started off so strong.” And: “I can’t bear to watch. But I must because I. Am. A. Twelfth. Man.” So cut me a little slack that I’m excited and nervous about a pre-season game. Bear with the Twelves, fans of the other teams, and non-fans of sports. We’ve hung in there, stuck around, believed, agonized, had a Super Bowl win within our reach and lost. So we’ll have our fun, and we’ll have it our way: Pete Carroll, John Schneider and Paul Allen are bonified celebrities. Throwing “LOB”, “Beast Quake”,or “You mad bro?” into a heated football conversation is our way of saying, “who was it that won the SuperBowl this year?”. And singing “da-da-da-da….”Wilson” to anyone in a #3 jersey, well, we’ve earned this.
Washington people (the state), and Seahawks fans are good people. Born and bred, or relocated and indoctrinated, this is our team. Win or lose. Though now that we’ve had a taste of Win, Pete’s “Win Forever” philosophy has a bracing, bold Northwest sort of new motto feel to it. I’ve heard the way the NFL is structured in modern-day makes it nearly impossible to repeat a Super Bowl win. But all the stats and charts and polls in the 24 hour a day NFL world cannot account for this: What the Seahawks have done since Pete arrived in 2010, day in and day out, cannot be copied, though many will try. This is why I just want to hang out at Century Link and the VMAC during the season. Maybe the off-season too. This is why I clutch the edge of my seat, or pace, watching every game. They’re onto something there in Seattle, onto something big.
“That’s the interesting thing about the philosophy,” Carroll says. “To accomplish the grand, you have to focus on the small. To exist in the eternal perspective, you have to live in the moment.”
Here we go…#GoHawks….