This was a weird, crazy, couldn’t have dreamed this up kind of game day. The weather in Seattle meant rain, wind blowing the rain, and cloudy skies, with sun breaks only during the quarters the Packers were winning. Which was three and three quarter quarters.
The opponents were out to prove they couldn’t get blown out by the same team two games in a season. We the twelves were there, we had our guy’s backs….would be interesting to see if the most jaded would be able to see the Hawks for what they are, and have been, a world-class team.
Old school modern and unafraid of what anyone else thinks. That’s the way Seattle, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest have always been. And it scares the hell out of people to see freedom at play; not give up; and even more, work.
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.
I felt it. Every 12 felt it. There was something off. Definitely off. Well, on the Seahawks side of the game. I was nervous before the game, something I thought I’d left behind. Almost from the start, though, something felt off about the Seahawks. In fact, I spent most of the game totally confused, wondering what happened to our team.
It has been awhile since we’ve watched the Seahawks play like that. Like where they never gain momentum. Like where most of the team seems to have been reading different playbooks. Like where they don’t come back at the end.
There was incomplete passes, interceptions, fumbles, pre-snap penalties, face mask penalties; all of this against the Seahawks. Then it was halftime; Green Bay 16; Seattle 0. Russell Wilson’s passer rating: 0.
I made my escape, donning boots and coat, a non-Seahawk hat lest I run into anyone; this was not a time to talk. I was mad, frustrated, confused, had developed a bit of a colorful vocabulary, and sick. But whatever I was worried and all bothered about, (and I know most twelves and the team themselves were feeling it too), is now central to the this story.
I walked uphill through the trees, sinking into melting snow holes with each step. At the top of the hill, (after restraining myself from responding to a sledding fourth grade kid tell me that the Seahawks were getting killed), found an open spot to stand, and then closed my eyes and let the sun soak into my face. Opening my eyes, I saw in front of me a grove of baby fir trees. I headed back down the hill to watch the second half, hoping to see the forest for the trees.
This is where the game turns around. I mean, the Seahawks have had the ability to play through the whole game, the whole time, every time for several years now. They outlast, outrun, outscheme, outplay in nearly every game. But this time, everything appeared to be backward in the bizarro- football-game-world I was watching play out in front of me.
Marshawn Lynch is big. He is a beast-strength football player. He has overcome big adversities in his life, some several times over. He doesn’t like to talk to the press (which they hate, so they obsess over why he won’t talk.) He has big plans and personally, I think he has an even bigger heart. He brought it all, and left it on the field for his team that third quarter.
By then, I was done checking on Facebook, and had muted the tv; I was tired of seeing critiques and trash talk on the Hawks. I throw my coaching tips and ‘encouragement’ out just like the rest, it’s just that I don’t think it needs to get ugly, nor personal.
WE ARE NOT TO SPEW JUDGEMENT ON EACH OTHER. Yes, you heard me right. And in that typographic tone. I’ve learned the hard way, the painful way, in ways that still make me wince, that judging is not our job. Judging can come very silently, slithering through our mind, dropping words of offense and self-righteousness. It is tinder dry, and burns hot, quickly and fiercely-consuming love and leaving bitter ashes.
I in no way think that I am immune to falling into this particular sin again. And again. The line between humility and pride is so faint, that you can cross it in a heartbeat.
This team you see, these guys, they have been in the trenches together. They’ve faced the worst of themselves, the embarrassment of failed attempts and tumbles from pedestals.
They’ve been questioned, maligned, doubted, underrated, quietly moving the chains, play by grueling play, game by meaningful game, making their way into a place very few could have predicted when they were 3-3.
Having been tested by fire, walking through hell, coming face to face with truth and identity; nothing status quo is going to do. These are the times and the people who know that it is exactly the unorthodox that is their salvation.
Many have been waiting in the wings, waiting to see how this all played out.
Would this year be a story with an unbelievably good ending, or a cautionary tale?
The fourth quarter ticked on, the clock down to the time where I knew, rationally, the Hawks could not win. I sent this text to my parents, en route to Australia.
sad, hard, disappointing game=( and we will not be repeating…19-7 with 4:50 to go…gb winning
I don’t give up easily, and I knew this team had it in them; I knew Pete and his whole organization had it in them. It’s just that, it looked, well, hopeless.
There just isn’t a more compelling sports team in the NFL today. And this story, like all the best ones, started with a gaping hole. An emptiness. An unknown and possibly bleak future.
And there it was again, staring us, staring them down, on their own field. Four minutes away from destiny; SuperBowl or nothing.
Pete Carroll is a master at set design, operations, talent acquisition and well, fun. Not the word that I will ever associate with this game. I think what I love even more than the spectacular plays of constantly changing guys, or being stunned to see even more athletic prowess, or seeing veteran players coaching, encouraging and cheering for the rookies, even more than seeing the boys dancing (sadly absent today) on the sidelines, on the field, in the locker room (and this is saying alot because most of the above makes me cry or laugh or both)…I love seeing Pete Carroll’s reactions on the sidelines.
In each and every play he is There. He is present. He loves the game. He has someone constantly pulling him back into the sidelines because of his barely restrained excitement during extraordinary plays. He loves seeing what happens next.
He is with his guys on the field. He loves his PLAYERS. The joy on his face when the players play as a team in motion, selfless, pulling off the impossible because each teamate is literally playing to their strengths with all their heart, soul, mind..it’s awesome. It’s how I want to be in my life. All in.
They were out, and then, in less than five minutes, they were in. Not only were they in, it was theirs.
Suddenly, there was a shift, a seismic tremble, a palpable change in the air; you could see it on the faces of our offense, ready to take back the game from the defensive warrior heroes of the game. And you could see it dawning on the faces of the visiting sideline. They knew it too.
Improbably, the Hawks under Pete and his incredible, unparalleled coaching staff, with the guiding mantra of Always Compete, and Finish, with all of the things that were against them; when the time came, when the game was literally on the line in overtime, instead of folding and falling apart, everything that they had fought for, hurt for, and believed together, fell into place, everyone began to speak the same language. They all fit together.
I do love events, experiences, adventures. But what makes them stories worth retelling are the cast of characters and the impact they imprint on my heart and memories.
And like the best of stories, this one was filled with villains, adversity and hereos; and a time when in the midst of battle, truth and courage and leaders were tested.
We know how it ended. How it always ends with games or stories like this. We think they may not win, the characters we have come to love, admire, respect. But then. Then the tide turns.
Today, on a rainy field in Seattle, WA, Win Forever, won. You see, this wasn’t just about a football game. There is a greater story being written here.
Pete Carroll has found the key to get in the very minds and hearts of his players, and what is in their heads and hearts when they take the field, any field, that’s not something forged of formulas and mass production.
You and I are just now, in January 2015, witnessing the result of four full years of Pete Carroll’s Win Forever way of life. Enjoy every minute; there will not be another time like this in Seahawks lore.
For the man at the epicenter of this earthquake of championship football is a one of a kind. And he empowers everyone around him to realize that they are too.
“For the most part, we watch a football season and we’re so attached to the numbers…and when it gets down to the reality of winning a championship, it ends up being somebody playing really good defense, running the ball, and moving another man against his will.” (Tom Jackson)
In the end, it comes down to the small things, done well, together, in love, for one another, pursuing a greater purpose.
“That….that was really an extraordinary night here at Century Link. I don’t know how you describe the power of the twelves…and what the fans did tonight. That was amazing.”
“This is a demonstration of love and belief,” coach Pete Carroll told his team in the locker room after Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent had presented owner Paul Allen with the NFC Championship trophy during the postgame ceremony – as a CenturyLink Field-record crowd of 68,538 roared its approval.
Thank YOU Pete, thank you Seahawks, thank you for showing us all that it’s okay to believe again. “That’s how a super-hero learns to fight…Superheroes
Love wins. Every time. Forever.
Remix: This post was written with parts I pulled from all of my Seahawk blog posts this season, funked up with some new content, and inspired from beginning to end by the best team and best fans in football. #weare12
and, of course, the title inspired by these brilliant artists from #NewLifeChurch:
Prepare To Dance.
If you still can’t get enough, last year’s Beast Mode by #NewLifeChurch-awesome retell of the past four #Seahawks years!
And finish up with a taste from the beginning of the 2014 season, when hopes were bright and we had no idea what season we would end up with! Oddly foretelling though…newlifechurch.org
Seahawks Dynasty: Back to the Grind