A Passion for Football


You’ve probably noticed by now that a number of the writers on 12th Man Rising are awesome with stats… seriously awesome.

Alas, I am not one of them. For me, football is simply a lifelong passion for which I blame my dad. Many years ago in Alaska, football film from the lower 48 had to be shipped north, often taking weeks. By the time I sat next to my dad with my Batman slippers, animal crackers and juice, the outcome was probably known by everyone else in Alaska. I, however, continued to be amazed that my dad always knew who would win. Fascinated, I was sure there must be something more to this game…

Throughout my youth, I devoured books on Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Vince Lombardi, Jim Thorpe, Bronco Nagurski and Ray Nitschke. I became sure that football was less about the game, the universal x’s and o’s, and more about the players that played… and the coaches that coached, like Lombardi, who I was sure could develop greatness in one of my crackers.

By the time we moved to Seattle and the Seahawks became an expansion team, I was prepared to be amazed once again. Instead, I was witness to the heartbreaking realization that expansion teams struggle for years. Still, I soaked up the heart of players like Jim Zorn, Dave Kreig (from the now defunct Milton College), Steve Largent and Dr. Dan Doornink. Coach Patera’s trick plays and Knox’s Ground Chuck became part of my football lore.

Even though I followed the team through the 90’s, my passion for the team and the game wasn’t fully realized until The Big Show came to town. Although Holmgren brought with him plenty of ego, he also brought leadership and vision and I began to see the parallels to Lombardi’s pull-no-punches management of team and personnel.

Becoming a season ticket holder under Holmgren provided me a front row seat to player development, game management and bench theatrics. Barring the painful one year reign of He Who Shall Not Be Mentioned, that view to a team is even better today under Coach Carroll. Under Carroll’s culture of Always Compete, the team seems more of a cohesive unit than ever.

During a game, I can recognize a nickel package and an I-formation as far away as I can see them. But honestly, it’s a bit of a distraction at times. That last minute communication between players before the ball is snapped, the shifts in the line, the hand signals, the stillness… this is what captures my attention. The play clock ticks down, the ball snaps, and the play unfolds. From the stands, you can see the play that was called, the coach’s intent, and the strategy. Then everything changes and it’s down to the players running it, defending it, executing it… Their ability to push, throw, catch, chase… vs the other team’s ability to oppose or out guess them… Gosh, it’s exciting! Sometimes the play goes as called, but often times the execution boils down to each team’s communication in those last few seconds before the ball was snapped. And that’s magical to me.

Sorry fellow writers, (you know who you are). I’ll never be a stat girl. For me, the “fabulousness” of football is always going to boil down to the grittiness, brilliance and heart of the game… and those that play it and orchestrate it.

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Tags: Bart Starr Mike Holmgren Pete Carroll Vince Lombardi

  • RYAN

    GO HAWKS

  • bobk333

    The appreciation of raw physical talent and great physical plays, along with the appreciation of qualities of character like heart, grit, toughness, courage, etc. are definitely part of football and sports in general. They are, I believe, the most interesting parts of sports, but to many of us, there is more to it. To us, there is an even greater appreciation the more you know about the game, players and coaching.

    Football lends itself to strategy – plays, formations, coverages, etc – much more than any other physical sport that I know of. It is fun playing along with the coaches and trying to understand the strategy – why they run the plays they do, what types of players they look for, who they give big contracts to and who they don’t – many things. Winning in football is as much about coaching, player evaluation, player development, strategy, salary cap management, etc as it is the pure physical talent and character that we enjoy watching on Sundays. Video study, statistics and analysis help understand the decision making by coaches and GMs. Many fans are happy with just knowing that someone just made a nice catch or someone just scored a touchdown — and that’s perfectly fine — but many of us would like to understand the dozens of things that led to those plays.

    Keith Myers, your fellow writer, is the best local writer at quantitative analysis, certainly far better than the wannabes on fieldgulls.com. I don’t know if average fans find his analysis boring and are turned off by it, but I like it.

    Football analysis is still in its infancy. Because of the Internet, the pace of change is accelerating quickly. What we see now is more advanced than what we saw ten years ago and what we will see in five years will be incredible. In the not too distant future, computers will be able to analyze video and stats (characteristics like clutch-play, heart and toughness can be quantified) and provide the bulk (practically all) of the information for decisions made by coaches, scouts and GMs.

    .

    • Asthmagirl

      Keith is awesome at stats and analysis. I find his articles, commentary and emails interesting and insightful to read.

      Admittedly, statistical analysis is an ability that I certainly do not possess. Yet I embrace the game with the same fascination I did when I wore Batman slippers. I like understanding many of the intricacies, like my question to Coach Carroll last year regarding how adjustments are made at half time. (It should be in my archives) I like pondering how our D and another team’s O are going to match up. I love watching Dave Wyman break down how a defensive play works. I like knowing that Earl is so dang fast at free safety, it leaves our corners open to wreak havoc on receivers. I like knowing that John Schneider is so good at analysis that I’ll always be surprised on draft day.

      I understand I could not analyze my way out of a paper bag and I’m fine with that. I’ve never pretended otherwise. I’m grateful that as my editor, Keith gets both my strengths and my limitations and continues to let me write anyway!

  • Hawkman54

    I like your take. If not for Tim Ruskell being hired as GM who knows what might have progressed under Holmgren. I have been avidly watching football since 1966 ( some before, but not avidly) and I too see that it takes the leadership at the top to pull it together and make it work.