It’s hasn’t been easy, has it? If you know the history of Seattle Seahawks football, being a fan of our hometown eleven through the last few decades has been a frustrating, fulfilling, maddening, worthwhile exercise in what it is to be loyal. From the ineptness of the late ’70s and decade of the ’90s to the relative success of the ’80s and ’00s, there is a lot we have learned about sports as well as ourselves. There are surely a lot more that escape my mind, but below are merely five.
Probably the most obvious of all is humility; goodness knows we’ve eaten our share of humble pie. Despite climbing to a winning record of 9-7 in only our third season in 1978, QB Jim Zorn, WR Steve Largent, RB Sherman Smith and the rest of the young Seahawks wouldn’t see anything near success until Chuck Knox arrived in 1983. The ’90s were an exercise in mediocrity. With the entire decade essentially a wash, it didn’t seem possible we actually acquired Super Bowl champion Mike Holmgren as our next coach in ’98. That act alone changed the history of the organization.
Properly proportioned, humility can be a gift. It can teach us so many things, including appreciation for the things we’ve been given or achieved, appreciation for the sacrifice others have made, and the wisdom to know when you don’t yet have all the answers.
It’s no secret the Seahawks have had their share of challenging times. The ’80s and ’00s, however, showed through strong leadership, locker room camaraderie, and determination, even the weakest organizations can climb out of the darkness. Great coaches and teachers like Chuck Knox and Mike Holmgren can do that. The ’80s gave us the opportunity to take pride in knowing we could go into ANY game and win. That’s a good lesson for any endeavor, task, or situation in life. Even if you fail, it’s up to you to go into every opportunity with the mindset of being successful. The road to accomplishment can be much shorter that way.
Life Doesn’t Always Go As Planned
In 1984, the Seahawks were absolutely overflowing with talent. Steve Largent was in his prime, Curt Warner was coming off one of history’s best seasons for a rookie while arguably the league’s best safety, Kenny Easley, was anchoring an extremely tough Seahawks defense along with DE Jacob Green and CB Dave Brown. They were poised to own the division for the foreseeable future. Major national media outlets picked the team to go to the Super Bowl each year from ’84-’88.
It didn’t happen. In the ’84 season-opener against Cleveland, Curt Warner takes a pitch from Krieg, cuts toward the end zone and blows out the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. Season over. Although that didn’t stop the Seahawks from making it to the division round of the AFC playoffs, the loss of Warner was a massive blow to their efforts to make a full-blown run at the Super Bowl. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, actions, or reasons, reality doesn’t bloom as we’d have hoped or deserved. The onus is on us to rise up, own our future, learn from our mistakes, adjust our game plan, and go to work again.
Life Isn’t Fair
AFC Wild Card Game – Seattle vs. Houston Oilers, 1988. I will go to my grave knowing Fredd Young intercepted that pass. If the Seahawks get the benefit of the ruling, they have a great shot at scoring. Even with instant replay, the referees nullify the interception. The Oilers kick the field goal, game over. As an eleven year-old, that was the biggest football letdown I had ever had up to that point. I was sobbing in front of the TV. We had a good chance to make it deep in the playoffs, and to lose it because of a weak call was a tough pill to swallow.
Needless to say, the ’05 Super Bowl with the Steelers is the ultimate football example of “life isn’t fair.” As Seahawks fans, we love to blame the refs for those abysmal calls against Darrell Jackson’s “push-off” in the end zone, Locklear’s “hold” in the 2nd quarter, and Hasselbeck’s “tackling” penalty. The truth, however, is the Seahawks made uncharacteristic mistakes that led to Steeler points. We’ll never know if we improve our odds if those penalties are taken away. But I’m going to look ahead at what we can accomplish in this future we’ve made for ourselves, rather than focusing on the past and what didn’t go our way. Maintaining one’s focus on the future is a difficult task, sometimes seemingly impossible. But failure is a learning tool, and unproductive regret is a choice.
Keeping the Faith
The ’90s were NOT a good decade for the Seattle Seahawks franchise. The year 1989 served notice their window of hope was officially closed for the current generation of Seahawks. The team simply didn’t possess the overall talent to compete. Throughout the next decade coaches would come and go, from Knox to Tom Flores to Dennis Erickson. But success would have to wait until ’99, when first-year head coach and Super Bowl champion Mike Holmgren took the team to their 2nd division title and 1st playoff game in 11 years. It took a while, but Seahawks fans were ready and enjoyed every moment of success the ’05-’06 dream season provided.