The roller coaster of being a Seahawks fan


My how quickly things change, and how easily we forget how difficult it was to be Seahawks fans just a few short years ago. Pete Carroll and John Schneider are in their 6th year in Seattle, which means it was only seven years ago that we were forced to endure Jim Mora’s stadium-emptying 5-11 one-shot season as coach of the Seahawks. And that came on the heels of Mike Holmgren’s unfortunate 4-12 swan song the previous year.

From the Super Bowl in 2006 to eight wins in two seasons. Three head coaches in three years. A roster full of blown draft picks and past-their-prime burnouts. The Seahawks were small, slow, boring, and un-competitive. The only waiting for season tickets was the time it took for someone to answer the phone in their sales office. The Seahawks haven’t lost a game by more than 10 points in four years; yet between 2008-09 they lost 14 of them.

In other words, it was bad. Moreso, it was even more painful coming so soon after the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance.

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We seem to have been spoiled by the success of the last few years, and it’s understandable in many ways. Not only have the Seahawks become the dominant team in the NFC, but they’ve done it with a style and swagger that instills even greater confidence in the fan base. We come to believe that they’ll find a way to win, no matter the opponent, no matter the stakes.

There’s a downside to all that success, of course; the reality that it’s extremely difficult to sustain. In fact the NFL legislates against it. Keep winning? OK, you’re going to draft lower, have a harder schedule, and struggle more with the salary cap. The good organizations, like the Patriots, figure out a way to keep it going. It takes shrewd personnel decisions, responsible salary cap management, and great leadership. It can be done.

Nov 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) breaks up a pass intended for Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) during the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

But that’s ON the field. Off of it, we as fans can get spoiled. Our expectations change, rapidly, dramatically, and probably unrealistically. Remember being a Seahawk fan in the late 80’s? I do. The playoffs were a pipe dream, something other fans got to enjoy. But I still loved my team. In fact I lived and died with them. Every week would be spent trying to convince myself (and anyone else who would listen) that “we” had a chance to win, even when it seemed implausible. Every loss would crush me, and I’d drag it around for days. But here’s the thing, there was something freeing about those times, exhilarating even. The losses hurt, but the wins felt………. better?

On the charge of Fan Spoilage, I’m guilty. No question. I went into this season with sky-high expectations. In fact I put it in black and white, back in May, right here ————-> Why The Seahawks Will Win Super Bowl 50.

My thinking seemed straightforward at the time; the defense would be as good if not better than the year before, Russell Wilson would continue to improve, all the skill position guys were back, and JIMMY GRAHAM! Clearly, my emotions as a fan caused me to dismiss the risks taken along the offensive line, the Kam Chancellor holdout, or the impact of all this success on so many young and newly rich core players. I expected a 13 or 14 win season. I expected blowout wins.

I expected too much.

And it made it hard to enjoy the ride that makes being a football fan so damn fun…. usually.

I hated myself for not enjoying the Chicago win because it was against such a bad team, or the Detroit victory because it should have been by a bigger margin. When did winning become….. not fun?

I despised myself even more for feeling, in my heart, that the team was going to lose despite having the lead against Carolina in the 4th quarter.

But something changed last Sunday. As the game in Dallas entered the latter moments, with the Hawks down 12-10, I felt a calmness. It wasn’t just confidence that they would pull it out (although this time there was a lot of that) but it was simply a strong dose of reality. Maybe this year is just going to be different, because this team is different. Maybe it won’t be easy. Every game will be a grind. Hell, maybe we won’t even make the playoffs!

It made watching the fourth quarter a lot more enjoyable, and when they secured the win…. that much more satisfying.

Was it a breakthrough for me? Or just a one-game epiphany? There’s a huge game coming two Sundays from now, if the Seahawks lose will I be just as jaded and angry? It doesn’t feel like it. It feels more like I’ve reconnected with what’s made me a fan for 40 years, and what I love about sports in general; the roller coaster ride. To truly enjoy the highs you have to understand that it can’t be like that all the time. There will be losses, and they will hurt. When you’re on top, the rest of the league is gunning for you, and all the mechanisms that are in place to discourage dynasties also exist to aid those organizations trying to pass you on the way to the top.

Next: 5 Takeaways from Dallas win

Truth is, this may not last forever. Pete Carroll and/or John Schneider could be enticed by other opportunities, and replacing coaches and GM’s in this league is often a crap shoot. Players can get injured, or retire, or move on. This 4-4 start could be a blip on the radar. We could be on the verge of seeing an 8 game winning streak and another Super Bowl run, or we could be looking at a middle-of-the-first-round draft pick.

Either way, I’m going to do what the players do; take each game at a time. Trying not to overreact to each poor play call or turnover, or loss. Not getting discouraged when/if the Hawks are behind late in a game. Cheering, hoping, wishing even harder. Enjoying the wins, no matter how stressful or “ugly” they may turn out to be.

I encourage you all to try it.