I am 28 years old and have lived here my entire life. I was born in Redmond, raised in Bellevue, attended college at the University of Washington, and have since resided everywhere from Renton to Lynnwood. I can tell you about the best bars in the south end, how to avoid traffic in the north end, and get you in and out of Bellevue Square in under an hour on Christmas Eve. I have never left this place. I’ve never wanted to leave this place. The Greater Seattle area is my home and it always will be. I love it here. For better or worse, I will always love it here.
I’ll admit that a large part of what has entrenched me in this region, besides family and friends, are our sports teams. It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Over the course of my lifetime, none of our teams have enjoyed much success. There have been a handful of playoff trips here and there, a couple title appearances, a number of memorable players, and modest streaks of decency. But outside of Husky Football’s 1991 National Championship, we’ve never taken home a major sports crown since I’ve been alive. And even when Washington was anointed No. 1 over two decades ago, I was just seven years of age. I’d be lying if I told you I remembered it. What I’ve known, for the most part, is futility. And yes, it has been painful at times.
Memorable occasions have been few and far between. I can count on two hands the number of joyously significant sports moments I’ve paid witness to in Seattle. To tally the disappointments, however, I’d need to line up at least a hundred other fully-digited individuals. There have been so many letdowns that it hardly seems fair. Thankfully, I don’t exactly remember the frustrations, themselves — I’ve managed to repress those memories, it seems.
I do remember the aftermaths, though. The moments when I’d sit alone and wonder what the hell went wrong. When I’d grab a basketball and go shoot at the park until the sun went down. When I’d fill a notepad with my thoughts, then let it fester before throwing it away. I swear, if nothing else, this tragic run of championship abstinence has made me who I am today. If we had been winners my whole life, who knows if I’d have any desire to write. Writing, often times, is an outlet for pain. And as a lifelong Seattle sports fan, I’ve endured my fair share of heartbreaks.
I’m not the only one, of course. There are so many of you out there, just like me, who have dealt with our collective failures in sports in your own ways. It’s one of those things that unite us, that only those of us who were raised to worship at the altar of the Seattle sports scene can fully understand. Those from out of town who come here, who try to relate (bless their hearts), simply cannot. We appreciate your efforts to empathize, but this is something unique to the lifers, a wound we share that has never quite healed. Seattle sports fans have withstood dismay in spectacularly tragic fashion. It is that tragedy that brings us together.
Each passing year, we cynically write off our ballclubs at the first signs of ineptitude. We scoff as they sink to the bottom of the standings — “Knew it would happen. It always happens.” — then feign apathy as the remainder of a lost season plays out before dwindling crowds and only semi-interested onlookers.
But we’re fools for this sort of thing. Our fabricated indifference is a coping mechanism. How else do you deal with a broken record that keeps playing a horrible track? At some point, you tune out. Or at least pretend to. In doing so, you invite criticism — “You guys don’t even care about your teams. Seattle is a horrible sports town. Does anyone there do anything but drink coffee and listen to grunge? When was the last time you even went to a game? You guys don’t even deserve the teams you have. You’re not real fans. You don’t care.” — and turn yourself into a punching bag for any outsider who wants to kick you when you’re down.
When your teams fail time and time again to back you up, to represent you, to actually look like they give a damn, how can you fire back? You can’t. You just can’t. And so you keep faking listlessness, keep conjuring up detachment and disregard, even while your insides burn and your heart breaks more and more for these teams you can’t even will to victory. It sucks. It hurts.
But there is this year.
But there are the Seahawks.
There is always a “but.” Thank GOD for the “but.” And the Seahawks, these Seahawks, this year’s Seahawks — OUR SEAHAWKS! — are this tale’s “but.”
There have been other Seattle sports teams, as we know, that have enjoyed success.
There have been other Seattle sports teams that, to date, have delved farther into the postseason.
There have been other Seattle sports teams that have bubbled with captivating personalities, that have won in equally remarkable fashion, that have stumped critics, quieted detractors, and whipped our entire region into a frenzy.
But this team, quite frankly, has it all.
There is something special about these Seahawks. From Russell Wilson’s stoically consistent leadership, to Richard Sherman’s unwavering brashness, to Marshawn Lynch’s never-say-die running style, to Pete Carroll’s effervescent ebullience, to every player and every thing and every moment, every win, every tackle, every run, every pass, and every catch in-between. This is the team. This is the one. And my goodness, how many teams have we encountered that we thought could have been, should have been, that special, once-in-a-lifetime team? Too many to name.
We’ve been down this road before, only to encounter dead-ends. We’ve been told yes, only to experience no. We’ve been given hope when there was no basis for its arrival. We’ve been teased and taunted, tantalized and tormented. We have lost for so, so long. Wouldn’t it be nice to finally be the winners? Wouldn’t it be nice to finally see what the view from the top looks like?
This is the team that can take us there. They just have it. Whatever it is, they’ve got it. And everyone knows it. You can’t explain it. But you feel it when you cheer, when you giggle, when you high-five a friend, when you put on your blue-and-green shirt with the helmet on it. It’s confidence mixed with happiness mixed with swagger mixed with excitement and some other magical juju that can’t be defined. It’s amazing and awesome all at once. And it’s what they’re giving to us right now.
I hope we do it. I think we can do it. I know they believe they can do it, and that’s good enough for me.
We are Seattle, these are our Seahawks, we just won a playoff game, and we’re not gonna quit. We want one thing and one thing only: the Lombardi Trophy. And yeah, we deserve it. Go Hawks.