Monday, January 23, 2006

By Zach

The promise of this day was first made on January 9, 1999. For the first time in my memory, the Seattle Seahawks were relevant to the rest of the NFL as more than the home of the NFL’s all-time leading receiver (Steve Largent) and all-time biggest draft bust (Brian Bosworth). By bringing in Mike Holmgren, new owner Paul Allen was bringing to the Pacific Northwest a proven winner, a certifiable offensive genius and molder of star quarterbacks. All that remained was to sit back and wait for the Super Bowls to roll in.

From the outset, it looked like that would be exactly the case. The Seahawks started the 1999 season 8-2. Jon Kitna was passing the ball well, Ricky Watters still had plenty left in the tank, and it was clear that Holmgren had returned the franchise to relevance.

Funny how one loss to Tampa Bay changed everything. The Seahawks finished the season 1-5, then gave up a late touchdown drive (at home) to Dan Marino and the Dolphins to drop their first playoff game in over a decade 20-17. Suddenly, it was like the good old days of the Boz getting leveled, Ken Behring threatening to move the team to LA, Phil Luckett confusing Vinny Testeverde’s helmet for the ball, and the godawful quarterback drafts, guys like Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, and Rick Mirer.

Holmgren never much liked Kitna, and after Jon melted down in the second half of 1999 and started 2000 slow, it was clear that the QB guru wanted his own guy at the position. Which explained why the Seahawks were bringing in some unknown guy, Brett Favre’s backup, to be their quarterback of the future. They were also moving to the NFC West, which considering how poorly they had faired in the AFC West, was probably a good thing. At least they could count on being better than the Cardinals.

Hasselbeck’s first few years were bumpy, to say the least. He lost his starting job to Trent Dilfer, only to get it back after Dilfer suffered a season-ending injury. In 2001, they finished 9-7 and seemed certain to make the playoffs. Then John Hall made a 53-yard field goal to propel the Jets over the Raiders, and suddenly the season was over. There were signs of things to come at the end of the 2002 season, when the team finished 5-3. Of course, they started 2-6 so it was hard to get too excited.

You’re all by now familiar with the recent history of the team. The meltdowns against the Ravens, Rams, Cowboys, and others. The inexplicable losses to the Cardinals and Bengals. “We’re gonna take the ball, and we’re gonna score.” Bobby Engram’s sudden hand failure.

Well, yesterday was different. Redemption was found in Matt Hasselbeck’s head, heart, legs, and arm. Shaun Alexander’s eyes. Darrell Jackson’s hands. Lofa Tatupu’s instincts. Rocky Bernard’s gut. Mike Holmgren’s moustache. And most of all, in the 67,800 or so fans who packed Qwest Field and made sure that the Carolina Panthers really felt what playing on the road was like. There’s a reason road teams aren’t supposed to win in the playoffs, and it sounds like that.

For most of my childhood, the Seahawks were the forgotten team. They were neither good (Sonics), nor did they employ my favorite player (Mariners). My family had no real connection to them (Huskies) either. Of course I watched, and followed, but with a certain air of detachment. They simply were never good enough to get excited about, but rarely bad enough to hope that they could draft a franchise player. The one year they went 2-14, they ended up with Mirer.

Still, when February 5th rolls around, I’ll get to see my team play for a championship for the second time in my life. This time, they won’t be facing a team which just set a record for most wins in a season (the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls). Of course I’ll have a detailed preview later on, but one thing is for sure. At this point, I fully expect the Seahawks to win, and the promise to be kept.


Blogger albaNY Hawker said...

Great Post and nice blog site!

Not to sound like those spam comments that you get, but check out our Seahawks Blog site for other opinions and insight on your favorite team.

I know I'll be bookmarking our site.

(as is one of your contributors the Koch from teh ST fan forum?)

3:53 PM  
Blogger albaNY Hawker said...

dammit, that's supposed to say "bookmarking YOUR site."

3:54 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

I don't believe they're one and the same, but one never knows...and I definitely check out 12 Seahawks Street (it's linked on my blog). I even comment there occasionally.

9:58 PM  

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