I have never been a fair-weather fan. As a kid on Bainbridge, my dad and I watched Warren Moon and Joey Galloway on Sundays with the regularity, if not the fervor, of a church service. Seasons faded in and out of my home, but the Seahawks never went away.
But neither am I the ultimate 12. After the Seahawks lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL, I felt disappointed, but not sad exactly. I had opinions about Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander, but wouldn’t argue with you about them. I’d go to the cheap pre-season games, but never paid for a regular or post-season game.
Then Golden Tate III went up in the air and won a game against the Green Bay Packers on a controversial call.
My Sundays started forming around Hawks games. I’d leave my sports ignorant friends behind as they’d hike or go to brunch. Before it closed, I’d stake out a bar-stool at Bill’s Off Broadway and use my pee-wee level strategy to scream critiques of Pete Carroll. The season ended in Atlanta, but I’d had my taste of the Russell Wilson Kool-Aid.
Starting in 2013, my friends no longer hiked on Sundays. Instead they followed me to bars to watch the Hawks. As the team made their run, our ecstasy peaked with a Percy Harvin second-half, kickoff return for a touchdown. We knew they’d win.
Games had once been an emotional flatline, with the occasional blip of joy and sorrow. During this year's games, though, a Hawks win became something not to celebrate, but to expect. Like a cocaine addiction, the highs weren't as high, but the lows were worse than ever.
Jermaine Kearse’s absurd, bobbling catch on Sunday, didn't feel like a miracle – it felt like what the Seahawks do. I'd become a Seahawks evangelist. "Patience, my children," I'd say to my newly formed congregation of Marshawn Lynch worshippers. When the team overcame insurmountable deficits, I'd nod: "On the 7th day, God made Russell Wilson and it was so." Super Bowl 49 felt like our Manifest Destiny.
When the Seahawks didn’t win the Super Bowl, a rock, usually reserved for break-ups or deaths, sat in the pit of my stomach. This, I thought, must be how it feels to question your faith.
As I rode home on the bus Sunday night, a six-pack of what were supposed to be celebratory Rainiers in my system, I couldn't help but wonder: What kind of person was I to feel so badly about the outcome of a single game? Who was I at all? Is life nothing more than football and death!?
The Seahawks had been a crutch against, I’m not sure what – some kind of dissatisfaction? Whatever it was, when that crutch was kicked out from under me by Pete Carroll's call on the one-yard line (Marshawn Lynch averages 2.53 yards after contact!) I fell on my face. Every iota of self-doubt was there to meet me.
My real sports love has always been baseball. The season is long, slow and, yes, boring, but there are few expectations and no Manifest Destiny. When the best team is beat by the worst, it's met with a shrug. It’s a day-in, day-out grind of repeated failure — even an all-star is forced out 7 out of 10 times. The 162-game schedule irons out flukes and upsets, making it easy to accept that what happened was always going to happen. It's a bit like being a buddhist: Mistakes are forgotten (unless you're Bill Buckner) and celebrations are tempered.
When the M's didn't make the playoffs last year, I was bummed, but there was no blame to be laid. They simply weren't good enough. But I will always feel angry that we got screwed out of Super Bowl 49. And, as we know from Anakin Skywalker, "Anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering."
I think, for my own sake, I must meet the 2015 Seahawks as that monk, not the evangelist; as Obi-wan, not Anakin. Pete Carroll himself takes this zen approach, preaching to his team that no game can be the biggest, because that makes the inverse true as well: that some games are less important.
The last two years have been, without a doubt, the biggest and most hysterical in Seattle sports history. But what will happen when they are bad again? Maybe, Seattle, we need to take a page from Pete's book. Maybe we need to pace ourselves, without getting too high or too low. Yes, I’ll always be a 12, but next year, only on the lord's day.