Thursday, January 26, 2006

From one of the "Twelfth" men...

A bit of an introduction and a bit of a disclaimer;

At the risk of boring some of you I'm going to post one of several posts about a subject that is very dear to me... North American Football. I'm stepping back in time a bit to give some identity to my passion. I apologize in advance to those who might not really give a crap about this stuff but, then again it's my blog and you're here on your own volition. You're always welcome to return once the hype and circumstance ends.

So, in short....


It’s been a long time coming… three decades! Three decades of waiting and wanting to see our Seahawks in the Super Bowl!

It’s happened, it’s here, it’s for real and it’ll be next weekend, February 05, 2006… twenty nine years after the Seattle Seahawk’s 1976 season of inauguration. The days of Jim Zorn and Steve Largent.

I was a big football fan… strike that… HUGE football fan when I was a kid growing up in a small town in Washington State. In the late 50’s through the mid 70’s we didn’t have any real sports teams to cheer about other than our University of Washington Huskies and our Washington State University Cougars. The professional football teams were housed in states oh-so-far-away. We could only watch them on television when they happened to be televised and picking a favorite team usually meant you had very rare opportunities to watch them on the television.

I had a favorite team at the time though. I remember watching … the Dallas Cowboys. I watched them lose to the Green Bay Packers in the Ice Bowl before any super bowl was ever played. I remember Jethro Pugh and Bob Lilly warming their frozen finger tips in their mouths. I remember Don Meredith going nuts on the field… playing like there was no tomorrow. I remember Bart Starr dashing every Cowboy fan’s hopes in the end. Needless to say, I was crushed. I’d taped the entire audio of the game on cassette tapes. I still have them somewhere around here… in the attic probably. I imagine they’re not the same anymore, those tapes. I just don’t think they'd conjure up those feelings I had back then as I lay on the living room floor of our home, chin propped in my hands, eyes glued to the big black and white Phillips console television watching the shadowy images of a frozen, nightmarish football game play out on the frozen, arctic like tundra of Green Bay's Lambeau Field. I was thirteen years old then and I was beyond words. I watched as Bart Starr followed Jerry Kramer's block and stepped 1 yard into the south end zone for the game winning touchdown... I watched in agony as Chandler kicked the extra point... together they sealed Dallas’ fate that bitter cold new year’s eve day in 1967. I always felt like I had adopted the Cowboys or they had adopted me… whichever fit. I also felt that this "adoption" was never quite right... never quite full... that I was “left out” of their “family” a bit. I was never really "comfortable" with it… this distant relationship. I mean, I rarely was able to see any of their football games. There were just so many other games to be televised over the years and the Cowboys were further removed from my neck of the woods than most of the other teams.

So, when I did get a chance to watch their games I expected them to win, dammit!!

And when they didn’t. When they just couldn’t get over that hump of victory on that rarely televised game… well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Finally I realized that although I loved my Cowboys I wanted a team in Washington State. One that I could watch every weekend. One that I could root for each season… one I could watch grow. So, I began to pray... I hoped... I prayed and I hoped. Oh lord did I pray and hope. I soon realized that timing was everything.

I remember the AFL… a rebel league of “wannabe” NFL players form up and take on the smashmouth NFL head on. A bunch of scrambling, passing, trick playing renegades taunting the mighty NFL from season to season until finally earning a smidgen of respect for, if nothing else, persistence and annoyance. The NFL and the AFL… what a clash. Each league trying to win over the other’s fan base. What started as an all out bitter league to league rivalry ended up becoming a season of league “crossover games”. The battle was on to prove which league was best… which league truly belonged and which league didn’t. In the end, the Super Bowl was created and the great tradition of championship playoff football followed. I thought that the AFL might be Seattle’s best hope for getting a “professional” team… as professional as the AFL was considered to be at the time. Besides… I kind of liked the AFL’s scrappy style.

In the end, the NFL finally came to their senses.

I left the comforts of my native state, going off to serve my country in the Army. Several years later I first heard then read about Seattle “landing an NFL franchise”. It was a bittersweet moment for me… a time for decision. I’d been a Dallas Cowboys fan for over a decade yet in my heart I’d always hoped Washington State would acquire an NFL club. Before I’d left I’d convinced myself that any thought of acquiring an NFL or AFL team for Seattle was, quite frankly a “pipe dream”. We’re tucked away up here in the upper left corner of the continental United States, completely across the continent from most of the other football teams... a visiting team manager's logistical nightmare. We're south of Alaska, south of Canada but north of Oregon (pronounced "oar-gone" to the lesser informed). We're west of the Idaho frontier (D.G.'s neck of the woods) and really, really, really west of those Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio teams... to put it bluntly we're so far away from anything else that no one really thought about or cared about who we were or what we did... until... UNTIL we scored a franchise! I mean, those California teams were the closest to us and they... the L.A. Rams, S.F. 49ers, Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers... were still over a thousand miles away. None of us up here ever thought it’d happen but we always hoped it would. In 1975 it did!

In 1976 Jack Patera got the ball rolling. He took a bunch of no-name players and "coached" them through their first season. The team played admirably and the rest is history… save when that fat Californian guy… oh yeah, Ken Behring… tried to sneak them out of town in the middle of the night. Seems he and Dennis Erickson (yah, that double talking, “trust me” sad excuse for a coach) tried to move them to some obscure pile of garbage down along the California coast somewhere. Thank you NFL and “thanks” to all of those other influential Seahawks fans for putting up money and filing the injunctions to put the brakes on the move. Thank you Mr. Paul Allen for stepping up to the plate, holding firm on the “new stadium” idea and keeping the Seahawks home! Not only do we keep our Seahawks but we have a fantastic “outdoor” stadium for them to play in… affording our Seahawks visiting opposition every opportunity to experience the wonders of the Pacific Northwest while getting their arses pummeled by the ‘Hawks on the field… at least in 2005.

So, as you can see I’m passionate about our Seahawks… very passionate.

I’m going to try to post a Seahawk piece every day until February 7th, 2006.

And to you Steelers fans… your Steelers, they’re a pretty good team…

Enough said for today… stay tuned.


DG said...

You said it all so well for me!

My cowboy connection was when I was a teen, going to a church in Washington. There was this little old lady, sweet, kind with a southern drawl. Her name was Mrs. Lily. I never thought much of the name till the cowboys were in the super bowl. I was rooting for the other team when it was pointed out to me by my best friend that Mr's Lily was the Grandmother of Bob Lily. Such a small world!

ok, starting next week, I'll follow your lead and do a daily post on my hawks!

and I thought it was rather respectfull of you to call it "North American" football

D. H. said...

WOW!!! That's one helluva neat recollection... Bob Lilly's grandmother. Cool!

It is one small world.

I'm gonna drop by and check your post out.

Oh yeah, thanks but it really isn't the same "football" the rest of the world knows... as you well know. The other (often times referred to as "real") football has been around a heckuva lot longer so the respect is very well earned and sincere.