I didn’t grow up in Seattle. Hell, I’ve never even been to the Emerald City (yet). I might not be a member of the local fanbase that has been waiting, heartbreakingly, for a professional sports championship since 1979-1980. Even though I live 1,700km away, I identify with Seattleites due to some of the similarities we share when it comes to local sports teams.
Here, in Regina, Saskatchewan (a city of approximately 200,000 people), the only professional sports franchise we have is the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. In league of 8 teams (the addition of the Ottawa RedBlacks [yes, they literally named the team after their colours] will bump the league up to 9), the Roughriders have only won the league championship, the Grey Cup, a total of four times, including twice in the last six years (2007 and most recently, at home in 2013).
Now, I realize you probably didn’t come here, clicking on an article about the Seahawks, to read about the CFL. I’m just trying to highlight a few of the similarities between the two sports franchises and why I identify with the Seahawks, and feel like I’ve been a 12th Man my whole life. While the Seahawks have the 12th Man, the ‘Riders have the 13th Man (due to Canadian football having 12 players on the field). The fanbases could be considered similar in some respects, in that there is a decided home field advantage for both teams, the crowd travels well to away games, etc. Without looking up the exact numbers, I believe the ‘Riders have sold more merchandise over the past few seasons than all of the other CFL teams combined, and may trail only the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens across Canada. Which, if you know how big hockey is in Canada, is somewhat remarkable.
The point being, both teams have similar rabid fanbases. Times are good right now for both teams, but that obviously wasn’t always the case. Just as Paul Allen had to save the Seahawks from potential relocation, the ‘Riders almost folded back in 1997 due to a lack of money. They held a telethon to raise money to save the team. A telethon. Without the huge TV deals and widespread audience that the NFL has, staying afloat in the CFL can be difficult at the best of times. Luckily for them, lately the good on field production has led to even better off field production, so times have never been better.
But enough of that, back to the Seahawks. After the NFC Championship game, I had several people say things to me along the lines of, “How about that game? The Seahawks sure got some lucky calls go their way,” and other comments about the officiating. I understand that there are lots of people that don’t like the Seahawks, which is fine, but I was sick of hearing excuses for why they won. What was really needed was a dominating, start to finish performance that left absolutely no doubt who the better team was.
I don’t know if it’s the fact they play way up in the Pacific Northwest, don’t have a long, storied tradition due to being a relatively new franchise, or the dreaded east coast bias, but the media sure seemed to act like this was the Broncos’, and Peyton Manning’s, specifically, championship game to lose. This is one of the reasons that even though I thought that all I wanted out of Super Bowl XLVIII was a close game, I thoroughly enjoyed the complete and utter dominance displayed by the Seahawks over the best offense in the history of the NFL. Sure, before the game you’d hear talking heads say things along the lines of “best offense vs. best defense”, but it seems more often than that you’d hear something about how it was Peyton’s destiny to win this game. That it was his year, ever since the season-opening 7TD performance, through all of the records he shattered, culminating in a #1 seed and advancing to the Super Bowl.
The only problem is everyone was forgetting about the team the Broncos would have to play in the Super Bowl. Admittedly, as a huge Seahawks fan I was biased in my belief that they were the best team in the league. But I also watched every one of their games this season, and felt that the Broncos were the exact type of offense they were built to stop. A pocket passer who becomes much less effective once you get in his face, a passing game reliant on quick throws and yards after the catch, and a rushing attack that thrives once you empty the box to drop back into coverage. Unfortunately for them, this Seahawks team can create pressure and wreak havoc while only rushing three or four, can disrupt timing patterns and limit YAC with physical play and sure tackling, and can use man to man coverage in the secondary, freeing up linebackers/deathbacker Kam Chancellor to stop the run and any short, underneath passes.
Back to my point about east coast bias: I don’t think many people knew just how good this Seahawks team was. They knew that Richard Sherman talked a lot and they knew that Marshawn Lynch didn’t talk a lot. They heard about Russell Wilson, but mostly that he was a short, 3rd round pick. They (surprisingly, to me) didn’t hear much about Percy Harvin during Super Bowl week. Here’s a guy who was an MVP candidate until he got hurt last season, and was coming back to play in the Super Bowl at 100%, and he’s hardly a story? Had the game ever been in doubt, I would not have been at all surprised to see him with 15 or more touches.
I had expected that the Seahawks would likely be favoured by a field goal due to their clear advantage in 2 out of 3 phases, less likelihood of being affected by any cold weather or snow, and combination of health/facing tougher opponents to prepare them. When it turned out that I could grab the Seahawks +3 and +120 on the moneyline, I was in love. I don’t often gamble with my heart, but this was also with my head. (Having grabbed Denver at 15/2 odds in April of winning the SB meant that I was essentially hedging, as well.)
I realize that these thoughts are all over the place and not at all well organized. I just wanted to get this down here because I knew much earlier on this season that this was a special team. And now the dreaded “it’s a business” talk is going to come, as we realize that this team will never be completely in tact again. Guys like Sidney Rice are likely cap casualties. Free agents like Michael Bennett may or may not be re-signed.
Over the coming weeks I’ll try to put together a piece about the salary cap situation and what I want/expect to happen with cuts, extensions, and all that fun, nerdy stuff only the most diehard of fans care about. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this one.
The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champions.