This is a post I didn't see myself writing. It's not just that I never wanted to write it, but that I honestly didn't think I would be.
I am here to write about the Seahawks loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX last Sunday.
|Soul evisceration. Every. Freaking. Time. I see this shot.|
Excuse me while I pick my guts up off the floor.
I mean, man alive, I love this team! But it's not just about cheering on winners. Nor is it just about winning. That's fun, yes. I like winning. But this team is about so much more than just some guys who win, just a group of football players who finally brought Seattle her first major sports championship in my lifetime.
These guys are special. They're people that are exciting to cheer for on and off the field. It comes from what I did already write about, Pete Carroll and John Schneider's Win Forever mentality. The fact that life extends far beyond touchdowns and championships.
To quote the above linked article from the Seahawks website:
“Trophies are nice, but we want to win from now on,” said Carroll, who has never worn his championship rings and whose office doesn’t feature a single trophy.
Winning forever is much more than winning next Sunday’s game. It’s about competing, maximizing your abilities and making the most of the opportunities in front of you, Carroll says, so that each player can become the best he can be and each team can achieve its fullest potential.
“Of course we want to win every game, but winning forever is more about realizing your potential and making yourself as good as you can be,” Carroll said. “Realizing that is a tremendous accomplishment, whether it’s in football or in life.”
So here's the thing: as I mentioned in Tuesday's post, I f'real thought the Seahawks were going to win on Sunday. Before the game, during the game, all the way up until that horrific moment when Malcolm Butler ruined my life.
Not really. My life is not ruined.
You know in The One with the Embryos when Monica and Rachel lose the big, nice apartment and inherit Chandler and Joey's craptastic abode?
[Random fact: I can relate almost anything in life back to an episode of Friends. For serious.]
Here, treat yourself to the soul-shattering moment that is like one millionth of what happened in the core of my being upon New England clinching the game; go to 1:29 (though the entire clip is pure gold):
Yup. Except Monica and Rachel only lost their home. I lost all of my hopes and dreams.
Not realllllly. But man, it felt like it.
Sunday went from elation--watching the Seahawks overcome injuries and a brilliant game plan by Josh McDaniels (I just threw up in my mouth having to write that)--to come from behind and take the lead and go into the fourth quarter with a 10 point lead (and we never give up touchdowns in the fourth quarter) to utter disbelief to despair. Because even though our defense was pretty gutted after we actually followed concussion protocol and looked out for the lifespan of Cliff Avril in the third quarter, it really seemed like we were going to win. I even remember feeling nuts that, as one devastated by Helmet Catch, it was happening all over again when Jermaine Kearse caught that insanity that bounced off his legs, that now I was rooting against the Patriots with something even worse than Helmet Catch stealing away another Super Bowl they thought they would win. We--the Seahawks--were marching into destiny.
But then we didn't.
It looked like a touchdown for Lockette and instead Butler caught the interception.
It was awful.
The WORST awfulness came after that next play, after we said, "Hell, no! We still have a chance!", after the overzealous Bennett penalty, after we tried to strip the ball.
[Note: I don't have a problem with that--look what craziness had to happen to win the NFC Championship. Stripping the ball and falling on it in the end zone was entirely plausible, and it would win us the Super Bowl. Now, were we down by more than 8 points, with only a few seconds left, it gets sketchy. But not when a TD would almost certainly win the game. So the idea that we'd just lay down and let Tom Brady claim victory when there was the tiniest chance of winning is more offensive to me than that we tried to win.]
But the awfulness was when there was so much emotion and guys just lost their cool. The people I was watching with--other avid Seahawks fans--were literally crying out, "NO! Don't do that! Oh, you guys, this hurts so much but don't do that! You guys are so much better than that!"
The thing is, people all around the country think our guys are cheaters and thugs. And now those few seconds will be what everyone refers to as evidence to support their claims. Never mind that Bruce Irvin apologized Monday for his actions (throwing a punch that got him ejected) while Rob Gronkowski lied about punching people and then everyone laughed when, upon being shown video evidence to the contrary, Gronk said it was the last game of the season so he just decided to throw some haymakers. Now, I'm not denying the guy is funny. I'm just saying that next year everyone will claim the Seahawks were rage- and sore loser-laden thugs while conveniently forgetting that the Pats were every bit as violent. No one is calling Gronk a thug, but he's white, so...
Oh, and that's besides the fact that after we beat the Patriots in 2012, Tom Brady, full of smack talk toward our players before the game while playing golden boy on camera, wouldn't even look at Richard Sherman, ergo the now infamous "U Mad Bro?" pic. But after Tommy beat us in the Super Bowl, Richard Sherman went out of his way to go find Sir Brady and congratulate him. Yet Sherman is the thug. *eye roll*
|Sherman may live by the sword and die by the sword of running his|
mouth, but at least he actually backs up his talk with respecting players.
But I digress.
The point is, losing sucked. And then Sunday night (and every night since) I kept waking up from horrible dreams that we were on the goal line about to win and then losing the Super Bowl. And I was just gut-wrecked and heart sick.
I can't decide if this is worse than the Super Bowl that Shall Not be Named. Because in that game we played poorly but no matter what we did to overcome the refs took it away (or handed non-TDs to Pittsburgh). That game felt like we were never going to be allowed to win so what use was there in thinking about what might have been? That game I felt robbed.
This game though? This game I just replay that INT over. And over. And over. I see Kearse not having that tiny bit of being held and being able to block Butler's lane. I see Lockette catching the ball for the TD. Or at least knocking it down, and then I see Lynch doing the greatest ball grab for charity of all time. I see Russell hoisting that Lombardi. Lynch being awesome on the front of a Duck boat in the parade. I can almost touch the Super Bowl ring that now shows TWO Lombardis behind my favorite logo of all time. I still feel like somehow we can go back and win.
My word. The nausea is back.
It's possible that I care too much about football.
I couldn't even read articles about the game Monday. I talked about that just a bit. And I talked about things waaaaaay heavier than football, how football was put into perspective quickly. I'm not escaping that. But the truth is that I and a whole lot of people are still gut punched. I tried to read one of my favorite football writers' game recaps on Grantland and I just couldn't. I wanted to puke. Because no matter how many great Seahawks moments happened in that game, knowing the climactic play made my guts turn in on themselves. It hurt so much I couldn't even read it. I just closed the article like three paragraphs in.
And, people, I finished the entire Twilight saga. I always finish things I start reading. I'd say literary works but I just mentioned Twilight, so...*snark*
Simple game recap pain doesn't even begin to address the agony of the CONSTANT refrain of why we passed on the 1 yard line when we have Marshawn Lynch on our team. Which has been thoroughly dissected and I am, in fact, quite over it. I'm with Russ (that article--sooooob) and Marshawn.
|When asked if he agreed with the play call to throw instead of hand off to him.|
I'm finally able to write about XLIX today because last night I mustered up the courage to read a few articles.
Let me share a few quotes with you.
I read this article first:
After this? After 12 years of "on to next year!", I find myself unable to say that right now, and even if they had won I don't think I could. This road was really hard and though I enjoyed it for the most part, I need this offseason. I'm mostly in tears typing this because it's the first time 'next year' hasn't been on my lips since following this team halfway through 2002. I've been through pick-sixes, dropped passes, disappointment. This should really not hurt as bad as it does.
I finally understand what Mike Holmgren meant when he said "You reach a point where you feel like a prize fighter and every tough loss is like a punch to the gut, and it just gets harder and harder to take."
Oh man. [And I just realized that I earlier described myself and other Seahawks fans as gut-punched. Totally coincidental, but shows the agony with which we all are writhing.]
And then this:
...go read the post-game comments from the players. Look at how interchangeable their answers are from player to player. These guys, the ones who actually have to stand up and answer the public questions about the most heart-breaking athletic experience they've ever had and they all have this unbelievable calm, focused, perspective. Their lives aren't over; hell, a bunch of them are already talking about winning it all next year -- just like they did after winning the Super Bowl last season and just like they did immediately after that intestine-twisting loss in Atlanta the year before that. The team hasn't changed and for that, I'm exceedingly grateful.
Yeah, I sobbed. Tears were just rolling down my cheeks like Adele was serenading me. So then I finally had the courage to go read the players' social media and articles about their reactions to the game. I had seen some stuff from Russ but this just slayed me:
|He was just doing what he do--spending every Tuesday|
at Seattle Children's Hospital, spreading hope and love.
That's our QB.
Yeah, I did a happy dance when I read these glorious words.
|And then the angels sang.|
And then I read the article from the above picture:
Now Wilson has quite a tale of overcoming adversity to impart. His roommate, Robert Turbin, said he tried to soothe Wilson by telling him that this game, devastating as it was, would wind up as a positive because he would be able to use it to inspire kids.
“One day, you’re going to be talking to some kid, or talking to some high-school quarterback who may be low on confidence or struggling with his game,’’ Turbin said he told Wilson on Monday. “You’re going to give him the example about how you threw a pick on the last play of the game in the Super Bowl.
“Somehow, some way, that story is going to help that person get better, the same way the game is going to help him get better as a quarterback.’’
Those were words that Wilson embraced, a sentiment he vowed to embody on a day he didn’t let the recent Super Bowl loss keep him from his customary Tuesday visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
I mean, sob.
And then I found out that he wrote this.
Just come on already.
Russell Wilson is just a man who throws a football for a living, but I am so thankful that for Seahawks fans he's our QB. The man is already doing so much through this loss, and the character displayed by Russ and the rest of the team in losing says a lot about who we are. What it says is some pretty damn good stuff.
And Turbo was right, because God's already turning beauty out of ashes. It's not just that Russ is respected by the Seattle community, or those kids he visits every single week, or various sports media. I have a friend whose brother lives across the country and has just about zero interest in Christianity.
[Having been a Christian for 16.5 years now, I cannot say I blame him. Not because of Jesus, but because Christians would rather argue about modesty and yoga pants than actually be the light of the world. If Jesus were not so absolutely real and faithful I would have jumped this ship a looooong time ago.]
My friend's brother has been seriously impressed with Russell's performance on the field and his character off. So impressed that he's now a bona fide Seahawks fan despite hailing from Michigan, and the Lions don't even suck. Plus, he's been asking his sister questions about her faith. My friend was thrilled to be able to give her brother a #3 jersey for Christmas and even more thrilled to keep telling her brother about Jesus, an answer to many years of prayer on her part.
Last season Russell and some guys from the Seahawks, en route to becoming Super Bowl champions, released this awesome video to express that, essentially, what makes a champion is faith in Jesus Christ. Similar to my last few posts, yes, you do your best. You fight hard to succeed. But ultimately, football is just a game, and what matters is life. That same scripture (John 1:4) I shared then applies now:
"In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men."
So, you know what? I'm not over the loss. I won't be for a long, long time. I keep trying to see pictures of Tom Brady with his sons celebrating, or read the legit praise Belichick paid the Seahawks (that line about people not being qualified to comment felt goooood), and feel a little bit better about life. But...nope. Not over it. Yesterday's mockery of Seahawks players at the Patriots victory parade downright pissed me off.
And, you know, no jaywalking.
|Why they so peanut butter and jealous?|
Goodness, I love my team and my city, this whole region.
But even better, I love my Jesus. I'll never forget the way Russ sobbed about God being so good after we won the NFC Championship. Seeing him so overcome with emotion, so raw and real, was cathartic, to remind all of us Seahawks fans that we absolutely shouldn't take this ride for granted.
I am so amped for next year. Truth be told, last year I was excited but I knew we couldn't win the Super Bowl for the rest of time. But for those glorious months of February through August we were the champs and our last game was the giant W in the Super Bowl. But once we started playing again we'd probably lose a few games. Maybe even make it back to the Super Bowl and lose (a fear realized in the suckiest way).
But next year? We can't lose our title. And that hunger to win and be better has undoubtedly never grumbled deeper. We got that red reset button (read the Russ article!) and we get to go #OTTN (on to the next) and get that title back. Seeing people mock us just makes us want to quiet them with how fiercely we play on the field. Having Brady and his receivers light up the LOB for 189 yards after catch (I die) just means next year the Legion is going to have that much more inspiration to shut. people. down.
Oh man. But the best part? Long before my dudes step back onto a football field they get to exhibit character that points to strength that doesn't come from themselves. They got to exhibit it last year in victory and now this year in defeat. The reason guys like Russ can legitimately move forward is because who they are isn't Seahawks; rather, they are men placed on earth to live lives that aren't their own.
However, all of the stuff I read and shared here with you, the things that added perspective to football games vs. life and the fact that we actually do have quality dudes to cheer on for years to come, tumbled about my soul, cleared the tear-blurred vision, and gave me the sightline to leave me with one glorious thought:
I would rather lose with the Seahawks than win with any other team.
Finally, one last word about the awesome sauce that is Russell Wilson: