By Matt Trebby
Matt Trebby is a Wisconsin native and a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan. He is a graduate of Marquette University and is a sports producer for The Seattle Times.
Growing up in Wisconsin, I learned a lot very quickly about the Packers – fans feel entitled to success.
Even after this season, when the team won its division without its star quarterback for six games, some fans were calling for the head coach and general manager to be dismissed for inadequacy. Expectations are consistently high, even though their most recent Super Bowl win was just three years ago.
The same could be said of San Francisco. The 49ers have won five Super Bowls and are coming off their only loss in a Super Bowl last year against the Ravens. They expect to be good every season.
In a showdown as important as Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, there will be more fear of losing than hope of winning for the 12th Man. Winning is a relief, while defeat would leave Seattle fans deflated and sad. Adding to the misery would be the Seahawks’ bitterest of rivals enjoying the rewards they took from your team. You want your team not to lose. Winning would just be a welcome result of that.
Since the Chicago Bears’ last Super Bowl victory in the 1985 season, they have been second best to their rivals to the north. Green Bay has won two championships thanks to two of the best quarterbacks in the league at the time, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. They had the Packers right where they wanted them three years ago in the NFC Championship Game.
That entire game I was thinking, “The Packers cannot lose to the Bears. It simply isn’t plausible.” Fortunately, it didn’t happen.
If the Packers would have lost and the Bears were to win their second Super Bowl, the whole rivalry would have changed. Chicago wouldn’t still be looking to prove itself as Green Bay’s equal now and take the necessary step above the Packers. That is unfathomable.
This year’s NFC Championship will be contested under similar circumstances. While the rivalry between the Seahawks and the 49ers doesn’t have the history of the Packers and Bears, the story is much the same: The home team has to win this game to overcome their storied rivals.
If the Seahawks lose at home to the 49ers, it will be the biggest defeat in the history of Seattle sports. This is the Seahawks’ year. They have built this team to play at MetLife Stadium on February 2 and win the Super Bowl.
A loss to San Francisco would make the Seahawks’ NFC West championship seem irrelevant. Super Bowls are how franchises are judged nowadays.
The Seahawks’ goal was to get home-field advantage through the playoffs. Wasn’t the 12th Man the key to a Seahawks’ Super Bowl appearance? If they can’t beat their rivals in Seattle on Sunday, then what?
While the Seahawks may appear equipped to bounce back next season from a loss to the 49ers on Sunday, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. The Bears haven’t returned to the postseason since that defeat. Green Bay, meanwhile, has made the postseason every year since then.
Victory would bring great joy and satisfaction to the Seahawks and the city of Seattle. It would also change the rivalry.
Trust me, Seattle. You want to root for the Seahawks not to lose instead of to win. I’ve seen this story before, and the Seahawks cannot afford it.
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