I am from Seattle. Born and raised. My career took me away from home when I was barely out of my teens, and to this day my career keeps me from home way more than I like. The one constant I have that keeps me in touch with Seattle and "home," though, are my sports teams. I've always been a huge, loyal fan of all sports Northwest. Sports, for me, are not then a thing about stats or fantasy "insider" takes. My teams mean more about a sense of being from somewhere.
I do know that this ESPN gig is a national thing -- and I also know that some of you mused out loud about me having too much of a Seattle slant from week to week. Well, I'm not sure about next week … but for this one, yes, my column will definitely be about a Seattle team. At least someone will be writing about the The Hawks.
I get it. We are not a big market and we are tucked all of the way up here in the Pacific Northwest, where we are perceived to be still chopping down trees and living in tepees or igloos or whatever … and we are all hippies playing hacky sack, listening to Phish or some such jam-band. Or we still listen purely just to grunge music and/or Heart.
But this medium-market team just took down the defending Super Bowl champions, and now suddenly … this fish-throwing, coffee-drinking town has got a new face and attitude, perhaps best personified by Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch's forearm-shiver delivered to the Saints defense on Saturday. I guess the Hawks just had nothing to lose; they certainly played like it.
Almost nobody in the media gave the Seahawks much of a chance before Saturday and the aftermath of the upset must have left many of them as stunned as the Saints defenders whom Lynch ran over. One of my favorite Sunday morning NFL shows didn't even get to Seattle's upset until late in the program, after the requisite Sunday game previews, New York Jets victory coverage and other feature stories.
Being 7-9 and winning the NFC West championship isn't the ultimate way to reach the playoffs … I get that; but the story itself is still worthy of a bit more coverage, no? And were the New Orleans Saints not just winners of the Super Bowl. Ah, yes … right! They too are not a major-market team, and therefore not perhaps worthy of the national coverage that other teams would have surely gotten if the same circumstances befell them. I am, for sure, used to it by now.
You see, I am not a journalist or a sportswriter, so my news judgment likely does not match those of my new colleagues. No, I am just simply a fan who perhaps speaks the mind of a lot of us. Those Milwaukee Bucks fans who think their team gets no national respect … or those fans in Denver … or Cleveland … or Orlando … or Portland … or San Diego, and so on. I get you.
If you like your freedom, your Internets, espresso and good rock and roll, well then you should also be a Seahawks fan. Here is why: During World War II, Seattle's own Boeing airplane plant pumped out all of those B-24s, B-25s, and B-29s that helped to win that war. In the 1940s, Jimi Hendrix was born in this great city; his vanguard lead guitar playing eventually influenced so many great rock bands that it is almost impossible to register it all. Lead guitar solos may have very well been set back many years without his genius. In the '70s, Starbucks opened a little shop in the Pike Place Market that eventually informed our whole nation that coffee is dark black and not almost clear -- not to mention, from a can, weak or brownish. In the 1970s, Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft; without which, a home computer would still be the size of, well, a home. The globalization of modern ideas and instantaneous sharing of information could have been a thing that we might still be waiting for. Just think, no ESPN.com or NFL.com … or, God forbid, no Twitter!
Yes, being a Seahawks fan should also be thought of as being a plain, old good American. Even if the Hawks don't get as much national attention as I think they deserve, we are nation-builders (what?). I digress.
Saturday's game really didn't start off much different than most if you are a Seahawks fan; quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception on the first possession, and they were down 10-0 before anyone could blink their eyes from pure boredom. Yeah, the same ol', same ol' that we SeaChicken fans have seen for these past few seasons. The day before the game, a friend of mine offered to bet $100 that my Seattle team couldn't win. I am a loyal fan, but not a fool -- I didn't take the bet. Three seasons before this one, I would have taken the bet … and any season before that, too. Of course I feel like a damn fool now for not taking my friend's offer.
I read a story this week that Seattle's "12th man" may have actually caused a small earthquake when Marshawn Lynch shook off eight New Orleans defenders in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Apparently, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network recorded a small tremor around Qwest Field at about the same time as Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run.
A few readers chastised me pretty good for a comment I made about "suddenly wearing my dusty Seahawks jersey" last week after we made it into the playoffs. The truth is though -- I am such a sports fan that if I am bummed out about how the coaching staff or players or front office people are running things -- I will not just sit idly by and root for my team and wear the colors for the true-fan-ness of it all. I have done it in the past and have felt like a moron as, say, my favorite player gets traded or backroom dealings are being done to create space for next season … again!
Have you ever been a fan of a rock band that had a killer first and second record, and then somehow lost you after that? Did you still wear the Styx concert T-shirt after they went into the whole "Mr. Roboto" thing? You may still love the band somewhere deep down inside, but you reserve the right to be pissed-off about what is currently happening. Are you any less of a fan then?
But back to my Seahawks -- if nothing else comes of this game other than the fact that our beloved quarterback, Hasselbeck, finally got his groove back -- well then that is enough for me right now. Sports definitely is about winning, and not how one loses; but Matt has given our city one hell of a ride and gotten us to a place that we can perhaps build a winning team again. The 12th Man is alive and well again (not that it was ever in question), and really, I could give a rat's ass about how much national coverage we get. I am so used to it. Go HAWKS!
P.S.: In being the true Seattleite that I am, I drank an entire pot of very strong coffee before I set upon writing this column. The clues may be evident everywhere. There is much too much bad stuff going on outside in our world. Time to have a little fun.
Musician Duff McKagan, who writes for Seattle Weekly, has written for Playboy.com and is finishing his autobiography, will write a weekly sports column for ESPN.com.