Thursday, November 14, 2013

Finding Ways To Win: The Hawks have made a fan out of me

Despite growing up in Las Vegas, I grew up a Mariners fan. I was sort of a Sonics fan, but more in passing than anything. Admittedly, I grew up a Kansas City Chiefs fan, and of course I’m thrilled with their sudden, incredible turnaround to a 9-0 start this season. My allegiances to Seattle sports teams have always been incidental or objectively neutral.
Pete Carroll makes winning look automatic these days
Pete Carroll makes winning look automatic these days
But that aside, after almost ten years in Seattle, I am finally becoming a Seattle Seahawks fan. The edition I discovered when I moved here was good, but bland, a blandly competitive West Coast style team that had a couple of great years, a few good ones and a slow slide into mediocre irrelevance. And then John Schneider, Pete Carroll, Beast Mode and Russell Wilson showed up and the identity of the team changed dramatically. They started growing on me during last season’s emergent 11-5 season and thrilling playoff run, and now I have bought in.
I grew up watching the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball team, one of college basketball’s powerhouses under embattled but savvy coach Jerry Tarkanian. Combining incredible talent, a relentless pace and Tim Grgruich’s Amoeba Defense (basically, smother the back court with pressure man defense, steal the inevitable desperate pass, fast break to an easy basket and profit), UNLV had one of the top teams in the country and for long stretches was ranked #1 overall. To see them inevitably lose in the thrilling crapshoot that is the NCAA Tournament (except of course for glorious 1990, when they did win it all) was always a shock, like getting punched in the gut. Growing up watching them steamroll every opponent, from the lowly division rivals in a Big West Conference they were far too good for to some of the top teams in the country, you as a fan always had the sense regardless of the score that the Runnin’ Rebels were going to find a way to win.
I feel that way about today’s Seahawks. They are super talented and capable of a wider variety of explosive plays than probably any other NFL team. Their defense has brash personalities and makes a lot of big plays. They make a lot of foolish mistakes and at times play like background noise on defense. Their QB is super smart, level headed and versatile.
But most of all, no matter what the score, I always believe they’re going to win, especially after that epic comeback against the Bucs. For me, that game was the turning point, and showed me more about what this team is made of than any blowout would have… because they got hit in the mouth by a vastly inferior opponent, fell embarrassingly behind at home, and landed in a spot where most teams would have gone into pass-only desperation mode or folded their tent. And instead, they ground their way back into the game, forced overtime and flipped the kill switch on both ends of the ball. They overwhelmed Mike Glennon and the Bucs offense. Beast Mode basically willed the offense downfield. And Hauschka’s walkoff field goal felt automatic as it sealed the deal.
I can look at the Seahawks schedule and see a lot of trap games. But I can’t look at the schedule and think, “There’s a chance they lose that game.” The reasonable part of my mind says a loss is always possible, but the fan side now just doesn’t see how it can happen. They always seem to find a way to win.
They haven’t lost since that road game against the Colts. I bet, the next time they lose, it’s going to feel like getting punched in the gut.

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