Disclaimer: This article is something that I have been working on for quite awhile. I am a Marine stationed in North Carolina but was born and raised in Auburn, WA. I was recently injured in Afghanistan and was lucky enough to make it back alive. This is simply the musings and rants of a man obsessed with his team.
A fan's outlook before Super Bowl XL, our chance to finally show the world that we are ready to become a champion and our outpost in the Northwest is a power player in the NFL, the ultimate high.
A fan's outlook after Super Bowl XL: The living room looks like a war zone. A hole in the TV where the remote flew through as an offensive pass interference is called in the end zone.
Chips, dip, chairs, a lamp, tables, beer cans and anything else that wasn't bolted down has now somehow blockaded itself in the corner of the room as if cowering from the wrath that was unleashed upon the room as the clock ticked down to those final seconds and the myth became a reality that the best and only chance that the beloved Seattle Seahawks have actually lost their only chance and becoming a World Champion.
In the years to come the team goes through so many changes a timeline and graph of all the players and personnel changes in the organization won't even do it justice.
Losses pile up as the injured Pro Bowlers from the glory years of five straight NFC West championships either retire or move on to greener pastures. Some decided to stick it out only to draw the ire and wrath of the fans who once cheered him in his greatness as he suffers injury after injury behind a depleted and pathetic offensive line.
Coaches get fired as often as a 4-year-old changes his mind about what kind of ice cream he wants. Fans lose heart yet still cheer their team on with every breath and dedicate their hard earned money to buying the new rookies jersey even when the house is going into foreclosure.
Half way around the world a Marine from a Seattle suburb walks through a little village in Afghanistan and finds security in knowing that when he gets home he will be blessed to watch his Hawks as they attempt to recover from a dismal year.
So what is the fan left with after watching the team struggle and get lambasted in the media for being the first and only team to ever make the playoffs with a losing record? One word...HOPE!
The year that was 2010 was a hard one to watch. Starting off strong and winning a few games no one expects you to win is a great beginning to a season but it also brings false hope. Seattle fans were on the edge of their seats thinking that maybe the man hire away from the devil school in Southern California will do the unthinkable and turn this team into a contender in one year.
Realistically, it won't happen and everyone knows it won't but just like that Marine over seas who has no idea if he is coming home the hope is there. The season wears on and the inevitable happens—injuries. Losses once again begin to pile up and that hope is starting to fade. Another losing record is starting to become a reality.
Then as the morning paper is opened up the standings reveal something completely mind boggling, the Seattle Seahawks are in first place in the division. This can't be! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it seems to be getting brighter.
This all takes place as the same Marine is finally back on the soil of this great country of ours. He knows that even though he isn't the same as when he left that he will always have a future, unlike so many others.
Finally being back in the great State of Washington the Marine is lucky to attend a game in Qwest Field where he feels at home. The game was against the Atlanta Falcons and the score well it wasn't pretty but at the end of the day there is still a chance at achieving the elusive .500 record and a possible playoff berth.
It comes down to this. St. Louis and Seattle. In the eyes of a fan the game is out of reach. Hasselbeck is injured. Whitehurst will start. Sam Bradford, the future Rookie of the Year, will finish this season off with one of the greatest turnarounds in NFL history.
As the game starts, you can feel it. The energy the crowd believes and the players now that this game is in their reach. The stats and the film may show an ugly poor played game but it doesn't matter because the Hawks are crowned the NFC West Champions! We did it.
The fans have willed the players to the playoffs. No matter who we face in the first round, we have a home playoff game and that means the noisy confines of Qwest Field will rock once again with the heart and soul of the 12th Man.
The opponent is the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.
The media and all the experts give the team no chance. The Saints will walk all over the Seahawks. Drew Brees and Co. will put up 500 yards and 50 points. This Seattle team is the worst ever playoff team. They don't even deserve to be in the playoffs yet they are hosting a game.
Headlines around the country demand a revision to the playoff seeds. A rule must be made regarding undeserving teams from making the playoffs. Even local sports writers doubt the chances that their supposed hometown team has in the game.
No faith and no respect something a fan in the Northwest is used to.
January 8, 2011.
Seattle vs. New Orleans.
Twenty-two-of-35, 242 passing yards, 4 TDs.
Nineteen attempts, 131 rushing yards, 1 TD.
Most would think these are the stats of Saints, but not on this historic night in Seattle.
Those stat lines belong to none other than Seattle's own Matthew Hasselbeck and Marshawn Lynch.
Look back at this night and one play will come to mind. Is it possible that the earthquake caused by Seattle fans due to the countless years of being seen as the little brother in the NFL? Could it be that through all these years this one play summed up the truth about the most caring and loyal fans in the country?
Seattle fans everywhere now know that the spotlight is on them.
No longer are the Seahawks the laughingstock of the league. No longer are the fans seen as stuck up and cold.
Now the 12th Man is here.
The noise begins as the 12th Man flag is raised by a local hero and doesn't end til the final seconds tick off the clock no matter the final score.
Opposing teams will say that they are scared to play at Qwest Field due to the noise, but the 12th Man knows that teams aren't the only thing scared of us.
The ground shakes as we cheer on our team. All around the field the earth begins to move as it shakes in fear and awe at the passion that is the 12th Man. Truly we are the mighty. Truly we have become the epitome of sports fans worldwide.
So I say to you fellow Hawks fans, are you ready?
Are you ready to do it all again? Are you ready scare away opponents and even the earth itself? Are you ready to see the Seahawks raise another banner high into the rafters at Qwest Field? Are you ready to start this next year off as the reigning NFC West champions?
The answer to all these questions is a simple yes.
The real question is can our team build on the success of this past year and create a team that will become a dynasty? Can our front office bring in the pieces needed to make this team a contender again?
From one 12th Man to another all we can do is show up every Sunday and give this team our all in hopes that they fulfill our dreams of bringing the Lombardi Trophy home to Seattle.
My hat is off to you for sticking by this team and believing that no matter what they will achieve the greatness that we know is possible.