There has been no time in Seahawks history where being a fan of the Seattle Seahawks has been a walk in the park. This is a franchise that has yet to win a championship and lost in their only Super Bowl appearance in heartbreaking fashion. In more recent history this team has range from abysmal (2008) to excellent (2012) and it has been a rough ride along the way. Right now Seahawks fans are faced with an excellent team that is probably underperforming at the moment. It’s somewhat ridiculous to describe a 8-1 team as underperforming but that’s sort of where we are. There are logical reasons for this underperformance, such as the loss of the two starting offensive tackles, but it is underperformance nonetheless.
This is a pretty rare position for Seahawks fans to be in. Going into this season there were some people describing this squad as the best team in the NFC or even the best team in the NFL. Many analysts were seriously picking Seattle to win the Super Bowl, and not in a “I want to make a unusual pick so I’ll look brilliant if I’m right even though it’s not what I really think” sort of way. Most were saying that the 2013 Seahawks were likely to be the best team in the history of the franchise. The expectations built up before this season were massive, mostly justified by the talent on this roster, but massive.
This is where the fan experience changed for me a little bit. I always thought that fans of perennial contenders like the Patriots, Steelers, Packers etc had it easy because they hadn’t had to suffer the extraordinary lows that teams like Seahawks have in recent years (the Steelers are getting there now, mind you), but I think I may have had it wrong. Being a fan of a team expected to do this well is immensely stressful. It’s not like I wouldn’t take it over the alternative but I don’t think I understood how stressful it would be.
When the Buccaneers were beating the Seahawks last week I was furious and disapointed and surprisingly crushed. I was thinking weeks ahead and how this was going to affect the playoff picture and how the Seahawks had possibly blown their shot at homefield advantage through the playoffs and a route to the Super Bowl. When your team is awful or mediocre you don’t have to think ahead like that. You can live week to week, enjoy the wins thoroughly and shrug off the losses. When the Seahawks win a game now I’m still as happy as I’ve always been but the dominant and first feeling is one of relief. When your team is fighting to have the best record in the NFC every single week is a must win. There’s no more “Well the Seahawks are probably going to lose this week [insert road game here] but I’ll watch and hope to be surprised”. That was a very liberating feeling. Once again it would be a stretch to say that I miss it, I love the Seahawks being relevant and successful. However, I guess I didn’t realize how the expectations would affect my fan experience.
2013 has the potential to be an absolutely magical ride for the Seattle Seahawks. This team, despite its recent problems, is a special one. It is a pleasure to be a fan of a team like this but I am beginning to realize that it is also a curse. This team may have a chance to break my heart the way no other team in Seahawks in recent memory has. Even in 2005 there was reason to be pleased that the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl for the first time. Now that this franchise has achieved that, only a championship can truly satisfy this fanbase. This team has a hold over me, and so many others, and while it is set up for sustainable success in the years to come it’s hard to be cognizant of that right now. Right now there is only a fanbase desperate for a championship. Pete Carroll and John Schneider need to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. If they didn’t want to deal with the burden of expectations they shouldn’t have built such a good team.