BY BRIAN SULLIVAN
Win or lose, Seahawks fans, enjoy this team.
Transcend the nonsense. Ignore reports of discord. Russell Wilson may not be “black enough” for serial problem child, Percy Harvin, but he has exactly the right color, intelligence and character to lead his team to Super Bowl victory.
Fans should resist unrealistic expectations, however. This team will not be as dominant as last year’s team. Even so, we’re experiencing something rare and very good.
The Seahawks have a passionate owner with deep pockets, a coach and general manager who work well together, and a series of draft picks who’ve become superstars before their contracts reflect it. The resultant salary discounts paved the way for unparalleled depth, enabling the 2013 Seahawks to withstand injuries and suspensions. Last year’s team was ridiculously loaded. “Next man up” works particularly well when the next man would be a starter on any other team in the league.
But the current NFL salary cap inhibits dynasties.
We’ve already seen the effects of paying Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Doug Baldwin and Michael Bennett. Our Legion of Boom secondary, with losses to free-agency and injury, has become the Legion of Whom? Marcus Burley, Jeron Johnson, DeShawn Shead, Tharold Simon and Steven Terrell have all seen playing time.
Wilson’s inexpensive contract is a gift that won’t keep giving. Next year he’ll get paid. And so will Bobby Wagner. Injuries that didn’t hurt us last year are weakening us this year; next year they’ll crush us.
Seize the moment, Seahawks fans, good times rarely last in sports.
The NBA champion SuperSonics of Lenny Wilkens began their run in 1977-1978 and won the championship in 1979. By 1980 Dennis Johnson had been traded, Paul Silas had retired and Fred Brown was aging. Gus Williams sat out the entire 1980-81 season in a contract dispute, and the Sonics finished last in the Pacific Division. The champagne had barely worn off, and we found ourselves watching Danny Vranes and Bill Hanzlik.
Most of Seattle’s great teams have failed to reach the top.
Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton exploded onto the NBA playoffs scene in 1992, upsetting the No. 2-seeded Golden State Warriors. For five years they treated us to a delicious combination of style and substance, but ultimately failed to deliver the championship goods. Their calamitous first round loss to the Denver Nuggets in 1994 is a scar seared into Seattle’s sports psyche.
The 1995 Mariners made a heroic late-season charge to earn their first playoff birth, delivering the exhilaration of The Double and a series win over the Yankees. But Tino Martinez left for New York the following season, Randy Johnson was gone by 1998, and the incomparable Ken Griffey Jr. left after the 1999 season.
The 2001 Mariners amassed a staggering 116 wins, but fizzled in the playoffs, losing to the Yankees in five games.
Abominable referees and the rotten karma of Jerramy Stevens conspired to dash the Super Bowl dreams of coach Mike Holmgren and the 2005 Seahawks.
The Sounders have provided a magnificent fan experience, but have only won one playoff series in five years and have never made it to the MLS Cup. Maybe this year.
But the 2013 Seahawks made everything right for one glorious season. Not only did they win, but they played with swagger, punishing opponents. We had the pleasure of watching one of the greatest defenses in NFL history and a dynamic young quarterback who made all the right decisions. And Marshawn Lynch delivered exactly what fans crave. He was an action hero, a silent destroyer.
They came from behind to dramatically beat our archrivals in the NFC Championship. Richard Sherman’s tip will forever accompany Griffey’s legendary sprint around the bases in Seattle sports lore.
And finally, the brutally lopsided 43-8 Super Bowl demolition of the favored Denver Broncos was a catharsis, a cleansing of the Seattle sports soul. The game may have disappointed neutral viewers, but it offered non-stop euphoria for long-suffering Seattle sports fans.
Most of the key players from 2013 remain. Celebrate them. These players are relentless competitors. Since Wilson arrived in 2012, the Seahawks haven’t lost a game in which they didn’t have the ball and a chance to win in the final moments.
Wilson, Lynch, Sherman and Thomas are elite, playing together in their prime. They deeply care about winning. They conscientiously prepare. And they genuinely appreciate the fans.
Win or lose, Seahawks fans, enjoy this while it lasts.
Brian Sullivan lives in Bellingham, grew up in the Seattle area and graduated from the University of Washington in 1994. He has caddied on the PGA and Web.com golf tours since 1998.
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