In July of 2013, Tom Van Riper wrote an article for Forbes.com titled “America’s Most Miserable Sports Cities.” Not surprisingly to those in the Northwest, Seattle ranked No. 1 on the list. The only championship in the four major sports by a Seattle-based team is the NBA title won by the 1979 Supersonics, may they rest in peace.
A lack of postseason appearances coupled with disappointing losses in the rare playoff games has created a level of cynicism amongst Seattle sports fans. Any sign of hope, such as a huge baseball signing (Robinson Cano) or a wealthy group trying to bring the NBA back to Seattle has been meet with a great array of skeptics.
Enter Russell Wilson.
The negativity is slowly waning thanks to sustained success by the Seattle Seahawks and their star quarterback. Everyone knows the stats surrounding Wilson: drafted in the 3rd round, 24-8 as a starter in the regular season, 15-1 at home. But just what is it about Wilson that has dispersed the cloud of doubt in a city known for stormy weather?
Let’s examine a few examples of the hope-inducing Wilson:
On Sept. 29, the Seahawks traveled to Houston for the dreaded 10 a.m. PST start. The two previous weeks saw the team dismantle the vaunted 49ers and crush the lowly Jaguars, but any good Seattle fan knew not to get too excited. When the team fell behind 20-3 at halftime, the collective “here we go again” could be heard throughout the Puget Sound. The game will be remembered for Richard Sherman’s interception for a touchdown to bring the score within a field goal. Anyone who watched the game knows that it was Wilson’s scrambling and will to win, particularly on a 4th down run at the Houston 7-yard line, that even got the team within striking distance.
By Nov. 3, the Seahawks had started to gain the trust of Seattle skeptics and would face the 0-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the friendly confines of the Clink. In what was supposed to be a rollover win, the Seahawks trailed 21-0 at the two-minute warning of the first half. Perhaps the newest dream season was about to give way? Wilson then threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, leading Seattle to a 27-24 overtime win and the largest comeback victory in team history.
The biggest test of Wilson’s attempt to change the narrative in Seattle came in last week’s loss to the rival 49ers. When Frank Gore stunned the Seahawks with a 51-yard run to put the Niners in position to convert a field goal for the win, Seattle fans knew that a third down stop would give Wilson enough time to drive down for the win. It was not until Colin Kaepernick converted on 3rd and 7 that the game was out of reach. Even after the loss, NFL pundits and Seattle fans alike knew that Seattle had not taken a step backward and was still the team to beat in the NFC, in large part to Wilson’s leadership following the loss.
In Week 15, the Seahawks traveled cross-country for a 10 a.m. PST start against the New York Giants. There was no worry amongst the 12th man. A new attitude has emerged in Seattle. An attitude that winning and success may in fact be possible. A 23-0 victory over the Giants only fueled a hopeful city.
Not only has Wilson changed the city with his play on the field, he is also the man every father wants his daughter to bring home. Seattle has fallen in love with Wilson’s humble personality and charitable lifestyle. His weekly inspiring visits to Seattle Children’s Hospital are as much a conversation point as his regular visits to the end zone. In so many ways, Wilson truly inspires hope.
While the offense has sputtered down the stretch, Wilson always seems to come up with just enough and has never given the 12th man reason to doubt him. As the Seahawks await a home matchup with their rival San Francisco 49ers, there is a new air about the 12th man. A confidence that championships can happen even in Seattle. Maybe it won’t all fall apart in the end.
An optimist sees the same problem the skeptic sees, but the optimist sees the good that can overcome the problem. Why has a sense of sports optimism infiltrated what was once the most miserable sports city? One man named Russell Wilson.
In Russ we trust.