Depending on how you look at it, this day was either supposed to belong to the Seahawks or the internet. It was Monday. Cyber Monday, the day the masses descend upon the world wide web for bargains. But Cyber Monday mattered little to those of us in the Emerald City. The Seahawks had a football game on this particular evening. That meant they were playing on Monday Night Football, arguably the biggest regular season stage in all of professional sports. They were already relegated to sharing a pseudo-holiday with online retailers. And yet their civic brethren across the sports landscape were not content to let them have even half the spotlight.
It started with the Mariners, those assholes, constantly fighting to stay relevant in a town where their irrelevance reigns supreme. They woke up on this chilly, sun-soaked morning and decided to sign Willie Bloomquist. Yes, the Willie Bloomquist. To a two-year, $5.8 million contract. It’s been five years since Willie last played for his hometown Mariners and he’s 36 years of age now, so why not sign him, right? Makes perfect sense. Anyway, they did it, they really did it. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t register on our radar – we’re talking about an aging utility player, after all – but this was no ordinary situation.
Aside from the local connection (Bloomquist grew up in Port Orchard), and aside from his ties to the Mariners (he was drafted by the organization in 1999 and stayed with the club through the 2008 season), Bloomquist is also the subject of our trolling affection. You see, my friends and I use Bloomquist as a vehicle to torment one of our other friends, Ryan Divish, new Mariners beat writer for The Seattle Times. Whenever Divish holds a work-related online chat, we bombard him with questions about Bloomquist. Why? If you ever listened to sports radio during the journeyman’s Mariners tenure, you’d know that elderly, delusional people all around this great state of ours love to ask Bloomquist-related questions. They just do. It’s inexplicable why they do, but they do. And so because my friends and I are immature jerkoffs, we enjoy poking fun at those Bloomquist Optimists while simultaneously poking fun at our friend, Divish.
So it was that our day brightened immensely when the Bloomquist signing was announced. Immediately, visions of future online chats and the resulting dumpster fires of mock interrogation began dancing in our heads. We whimsically went about our Monday with sly grins upon our shit-eating mugs. And then it all went to hell.
I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a sports news story go from zero-to-sixty as fast as that of Steve Sarkisian’s hiring at USC. One minute “sources” were rumbling that Sarkisian might be in the running for the head coaching gig at Southern California, and not five minutes later the entire Twittersphere had all but confirmed that Sark was gone, off to Los Angeles, set to leave Seattle in a mere matter of moments.
It all came true, of course. It seems like days ago by now, and yet as I write this only a handful of hours have elapsed. Sark has departed the University of Washington less than five years after he took his first head coaching job here on Montlake. He vacates a program in much better shape than he found it – a program that was winless the season prior to his hiring, a program he led to four bowl games in the five seasons that followed – and yet leaves behind no discernible legacy of which to speak. In the annals of Washington football, Sarkisian will be a blip on the radar, a guy who came and went like a fleeting summer breeze, who raced through half a decade in purple-and-gold before escaping for what’s been deemed a better opportunity. It’s hard to blame the guy for leaving – he’s a native of Southern California and got his coaching start at USC – but the abruptness of his departure just doesn’t feel right.
All that said, the news of the day quickly evolved into speculation about the future. Sark is gone, the masses realized, so what, pray tell, would come next?
The focus immediately shifted to the next University of Washington football coach. And as it shifted, one name rolled off the tongues and across the computer screens of Husky fans: Jim Mora. The Seattle native, UW alum, and current UCLA head coach became the immediate target of the purple-and-gold faithful. Rumors about Mora’s whereabouts – He’s in Seattle! He’s in California! He’s in Afghanistan?! Where is he? Is he here? Is he there? – began flying. Speculation about whether he would or would not take the Washington job if offered became the talk of the day on sports radio.
As the day turned to night, nothing, absolutely nothing, was resolved. There was nothing from Mora, nothing from Washington, nothing on who the next coach might be (in addition to Mora, the names of Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter, and current UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox were all bandied about), and fans sat idly by in a certain purgatory, not knowing what might come next for the football program.
Alas, the time for speculation on the status of the Washington football program was interrupted as the sun set beyond the nether reaches of Puget Sound. Returning full circle to what was supposed to be the news of the day, the Seahawks took the field under the watchful eye of the entire NFL viewership, a spotlight shining brightly upon the Monday night setting. On a day in which emotions were heavily mixed amongst sports fans in the region, the Seahawks served as a unifying force. No matter one’s opinion on anything else, this was our team playing on the game’s biggest stage.
From the moment one set foot inside CenturyLink Field, there was a pulse thumping throughout the venue. That stadium can be loud – it is always loud – and raucous, but this was different. There is often a distinct “calm before the storm” prior to kickoff, and yet there was none of that on this particular evening. This was a storm, all storm, and the hapless New Orleans Saints were the unfortunate souls who got caught up in the raging disaster.
Mayhem ensued. It was an ass-kicking from the very start. From a defensive stand on the game’s first possession, to a thoroughly efficient opening offensive drive resulting in a field goal, to a first quarter sack that begat a Drew Brees fumble that subsequently begat a Seahawks touchdown. It all went downhill from there for New Orleans.
The noise was deafening. More deafening than any stadium had ever been in the history of sports, according to Guinness World Records. And thus the 12th Man broke a worldwide noise record for the second time this season, because hey, why not. The celebrations that followed each of the team’s four touchdowns resulted in seismic activity that equated to a 1.0-to-2.0 earthquake, allowing fans yet another notch on the bedpost of awesomeness. It was euphoric bliss for a Seattle sports nut, an orgasm of pure delight that culminated in a 34-7 final score (for the good guys, of course) and an exclamation point alongside the Best Team in the NFL designation the Seahawks had previously achieved.
The night persevered, frigid and damp, and Seattle found its way into bed. Snuggled under blankets and with just as many questions as answers – What would the future hold for the Huskies? But hey, those Seahawks! – sleep overwhelmed us all. And as the clock struck midnight, as Monday became Tuesday, we left behind a day in our sports history that will not soon be forgotten. A day that, strangely enough, began with Willie Effing Bloomquist.