How big is Sunday's game between the Seahawks and 49ers? Media credentials have been requested by representatives from Tatooine, Vulcan and the Klingon home world (no email request from the Death Star, however). Already, the Borg have been here, assimilating San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
"You Earthlings are weak," Harbaugh said in an emotionless monotone on a conference call Wednesday. "Resistance is futile."
Actually, he didn't say that, although the emotionless monotone was correct. But he was so deliberately boring that other worlds needed to be imported via media wormholes to enliven the discussion.
The Seahawks and 49ers are offering nothing but oatmeal this week about the Sunday clash, the outcome of which may have been foreshadowed by Joshua 6:21 in the Old Testament: " . . . destroyed with the sword every living thing in it -- men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys."
OK, we've taken some liberties here, jumping from 5000 B.C. to the 24th century to grasp this highly anticipated collision of the colossi. Consider the hyperbole a counterweight to the efforts of the participants to tamp down hysteria.
“I think it's two good teams going head to head,” said 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
"It’s a championship opportunity for us, just like last week. It’s no different," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
The next game on the schedule is the biggest game of the year — that’s how we look at our opponents each week," said Harbaugh.
"Last year means nothing, last game means nothing, rivalry means nothing," said Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice.
Well, hell. Is it possible to die of terminal poker-face?
After some badgering, Harbaugh finally owned up to the teensiest bit of emotion when he conceded that he likes big rivalry games. "Yeah, I always have," he said. "It raises the bar for both teams."
Way too sensible. The quote was a far cry from his "jive turkey gobblers" riff last October, which he apparently meant as a compliment to his then-quarterback, Alex Smith.
It's game week, and athletes and coaches are trained to be rhetorical dorks. I also know that few, if any, get where this game fits into the great sweep of Seattle sports history because they haven't lived it.
The big deal here? It's relevant.
For so many years, so many games have meant so little. So many hopes have been extinguished so abruptly. The Mariners can't get past Memorial Day with a game that means something. The Sounders have been consistently good, but a playoff dud. Huskies football has been in a 20-year crater (though it may have emerged a couple of Saturdays ago). Huskies basketball has had numerous high points under coach Lorenzo Romar, but none have gotten them past the NCAA's round of 16. And fergawdsakes, some goofball Okies outwitted us for the Sonics after 41 years.
The subsequent cynicism is the rot that ruins the joy.
The Seahawks had a shining moment in 2005's Super Bowl XL, but the outcome is still hushed up by parents concerned about their children's emotional welfare. And the farewell to the franchise's best coach, Mike Holmgren, was a 4-12 season.
There have been two recent hallmarks of Seattle sports: The Seahawks won a division championship in 2010 with a losing record, an NFL first, and Felix Hernandez won a Cy Young Award with the fewest wins in the history of the honor. Seattle sports fans come by their scars honorably, frequently and beyond the sporting imagination.
That's why Sunday is a big deal. The 12th Man cares deeply because opportunities to engage in relevance are so rare. And yet, in the space of three weeks, the Sounders will have filled the Clink with nearly 70,000 for the Timbers game and newcomer star Clint Dempsey's debut. Sunday, the Seahawks will follow with the same number of fans, who will be asked to participate in an attempt to beat the Guinness book world record for noisiest stadium.
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