Almost 40 years of hopes finally realized
In case you haven’t heard because you were without power, internet, newspapers or friends for the past four days, the Seattle Seahawks have brought home their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
A victory parade takes place to celebrate the monumental win for not just Seattle, but the entire Northwest.
It’s something that was nearly four decades in the making for the Seahawks and their fans. It also comes in the wake of losing a pro sports team, the Seattle Supersonics, in 2008. Until now, the Sonics had the distinction of being the only Seattle pro team to win its respective championship, along with the Seattle Storm in 2004 and 2010.
Does that make this Superbowl win by the Seahawks a little sweeter? I think it does. For the past five years, since the Sonics left town, fans were constantly reminded that the 1979 Sonics were their only champions, and they didn’t even play in Seattle anymore.
Every Oklahoma Thunder success only further reminded us of that bitter fact.
Sonics aside, it’s difficult to describe how waiting to see your favorite team come up with its first championship can wear on you. I’ve been a Seahawks fan my whole life and I’ve seen almost every game they have ever played in their history. And I’d be a liar, as would most, if I didn’t say it has been difficult to keep the faith over the years.
With that in mind, please indulge me in some Seahawks memories both good and bad.
My First Game
I still remember the first game I saw in person. It was Aug. 7, 1976. It was the Seahawks’ second-ever game, which was a preseason contest. It was held in Spokane, Wash. at Joe Albi stadium, which still stands to this day.
By today’s stadium standard, Joe Albi Stadium is a pit. A concrete monstrosity that barely seats over 25,000 fans, but the Seahawks wanted to spread the word throughout Washington that the Northwest now had its own team, so they played away from Seattle against the Chicago Bears.
Oddly enough, the date of this game fell on my birthday, which is why I’m sure I remember it so well.
My father was a huge football fan. Until the birth of the Seahawks he had always been a Dallas Cowboys fan, so being six years old, I was a Cowboys fan too. The Cowboys had played in Superbowl X that same year and lost to the Pittsburg Steelers, but now, for the first time, we had our OWN team, and danged if my father wasn’t going to take his son to that game.
The Seahawks lost, of course, 27-16 to the Bears, but I came away with something I never really had before. In fact, I don’t think anyone in the Northwest had it until that fall. We finally had a team that was our own. The Seahawks were ours. We didn’t have to cling to the dreams of distant teams any longer.
Growing up in the 70s and early 80s in Spokane didn’t make for getting to games in person regularly an easy task, so I did what most kids did who liked to watch sports: I watched the games on TV. There were only four channels on the TV in those days and every Sunday morning the Seahawks were on.
Additionally, you couldn’t be a kid, be a fan of a team, and not have a jersey of your favorite player. Mine was Steve Largent. I liked him because he was a player beyond his individual skills. He certainly wasn’t the tallest guy on the field. He wasn’t the fastest, either. What Largent had was great hands and an uncanny ability to find an open spot.
In 1984, a goofy movie starring Bill Murray came out and made me and all my friends laugh. When some clever PR person decided to incorporate that movie title into the Raiders-Seahawks rivalry of the early 80s well, I pretty much thought that was the coolest thing ever. Raider Busters had been born.
Nov. 12, 1984 I got to do something I had long awaited for. I got to see the Seahawks in the Kingdome against the hated Los Angeles Raiders on Monday Night Football. It was an amazing experience for a variety of reasons.
The rivalry with the Raiders in those days was everything that the rivalry we now have with the 49ers is today. Those two teams did NOT like each other, and the Raiders had already beat the Seahawks in LA earlier in the year.
Sure, the Kingdome was loud, but this was different. This game it was impossibly loud. It was the kind of loud that shook the fillings right out of your teeth.
1984 was a season in which the Seahawks were winning consistently for the first time in their history. The defense had names like Jacob Green, Kenny Easley, Joe Nash and Jeff Bryant. David Krieg was the QB. Other notable names on offense included rookie wide out Daryl Turner and my favorite, Steve Largent, was at the height of his career.
You can bet your butt I was wearing that Steve Largent jersey that night.
I can still here the opening announcement of the public address announcer just before the kickoff…
Ladies and Gentleman of the Kingdome…. You’re now on national television.
The Seahawks went on to win the game over the Raiders 17-14 and I thought the roof might blow right off the top of the place. We didn’t have seismometers on the stadiums back then.
The Hawks finished the season 12-4, but ultimately did not reach the Superbowl. They disposed of the Raiders in the wild card game but lost to the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round.
Ken Behring Era
Ken Behring’s name might be as hated around Seattle as Clay Bennett, but the funny thing is that prior to his announcement of his intention to move the Seahawks to California, Behring had begun to resurrect the team a bit.
After Dave Krieg began to fail as a QB for Seattle, the Seahawks went through a boat load of other options. Dan McGwire, Kelly Stouffer, Jeff Kemp and Stan Gelbaugh are just a few names of people that started under center for the Seahawks in those days.
Following a disastrous 1992 season of 2-14, the Hawks had the second-overall pick in the draft. They used it to draft a QB. His name was Rick Mirer.
While the Mirer experiment ultimately failed after four seasons, Mirer gave the fans hope. He showed flashes of greatness that rivaled John Elway and Joe Montana. I honestly think the internal issues of the organization contributed greatly to Mirer’s demise.
Prior to the 1996 season, which was Mirer’s last, owner Ken Behring attempted to make that move to California. Fans literally stood in front of truckloads of equipment in a attempt to block the move.
I was beside myself. I could not believe it had come to this, and I hated Ken Behring more than any human being on earth at that point in my life.
Eventually a savior was found.
Paul Allen agreed to buy the team from Behring and ended the controversy. What Allen bought was still in a state of disarray, yet somehow, I was more relieved that someone who had just been told their cancer had been cured now owned the organization.
There’s no guy like Holmey
Allen eventually hired a guy named Mike Holmgren, a Superbowl winning coach, to be THE guy in Seattle to run things. Holmgren had full control over everything. He was one the first guys in the NFL to wear the general manager and head coach titles simultaneously.
I really thought this was it. Holmgren was the guy to solve all of these issues. He would finally lead the Seahawks to their first Superbowl. He had done it before in Green Bay — of course he could do it again.
Holmgren did deliver a Superbowl appearance, but only after he had been stripped of his GM title. Holmgren was clearly a great coach, but his ability to be the coach and the GM was just not there. Tim Ruskell took over as GM and the two of them together got the Seahawks to the big stage.
The Seahawks went 13-3 in 2005 before reaching the Superbowl. Matt Hasselbeck, Steve Hutchinson, Walter Jones and Sean Alexander were the big names of that team.
Little did we know that just reaching the Superbowl was only half the battle. A series of questionable calls by the officials during Superbowl XL cost the Seahawks the victory over the Pittsburg Steelers. Holmgren was furious and wound up being heavily fined by the NFL for his criticism of the officials. Referee Bill Leavy even apologized to the Seahawks afterward, not that it mattered at that point.
The loss was bitter. The fans felt cheated. Seattle had been robbed of its championship this time, not the team itself. The loss burned into Holmgren’s mind as well. He never seemed to be the same again as the coach.
Finally the true savior arrives: Pete Carroll
I must admit, I thought Seattle was doomed at this point. I had really sold myself on the idea that Holmgren was the guy. The Jim Mora year was just a joke in which many fans lost faith in the team. That lead to Mora’s dismissal and the hiring of Pete Carroll.
My first impression of Carroll was simply this, “What the hell is Paul Allen thinking?” Carroll had failed twice in the NFL already and was clearly escaping an impending doom at USC. Then Carroll and his new GM partner John Snyder started to work their magic.
They made so many roster moves that first year, no one could count them all. I kept seeing all these names I’d never heard of before. My thought was, “Well, if he’s going to fail, clearly he wants to fail with guys he picked.”
And boy did he pick them.
All of the middle and late-round guys he picked up in those first couple of years are All Pros. They are MVPs. They all have Superbowl rings and today we honor them with a parade in downtown Seattle.
The Seattle Seahawks are Superbowl champions, and this time, no one can take it away from us.