I wasn’t born into a football family. My father apparently loved it, so I might’ve been introduced to the sport sooner if he hadn’t passed away.
As it was, my mother and I were first and foremost a baseball family. I knew the Kingdome as the home of the Seattle Mariners, the place where Ken Griffey Jr. would knock off homeruns to the tune of exploding fireworks.
We would regularly catch games for as long as I could remember, and eventually had the lucky timing of being season-ticket holders during one of the most exciting times to be a Mariners fan. I recited stats like I was constantly being quizzed. I knew how each player did against righties and lefties, who their best and worst match-ups were, if they were better in certain uniforms, certain stadiums, or times of day. I even skipped going to my senior prom in favor of watching Freddy Garcia beat the Yankees, and have zero regrets about that decision to this day.
Football was another world. It was big, burly men getting drunk and screaming at the television while watching other big, burly men hit each other. A few people who were into the sport passed through my circles, but no one I was close with, and no one who ever seemed interested in explaining the finer points of the game to me. I was a geeky, shy girl who hung out with a lot of geeky, shy kids. In high school, the only reason I went to football games was to look at butts.
I got to college, and more people I knew were into it. At some point, they began commenting to me on how well the Seahawks were doing. So, yes, I first started paying attention to the Seahawks during what would eventually become their first Super Bowl run. I watched the game, I saw the questionable calls (which, admittedly, I only understood were questionable thanks to a friend I was watching with), I came away wanting to know more about football, anyway.
I remained a casual fan for years. I was afraid of being labelled a band-wagoner (I have plenty of feelings about this, too), still didn’t know a ton of football fans, and still didn’t fully understand the game and how it was played. I watched from afar, picking up pieces of football knowledge here and there, catching Hawks games when I could (which is plenty hard on the East Coast). Occasionally, a friend and I would get together for a game.
But the team just didn’t feel like mine. Coming around to the Seahawks when I did, it felt like I was peering in on something as an outsider, watching a film that was halfway over. I didn’t know all the stories and struggles, and with limited access to games, and limited knowledge of the sport, it felt like I would never catch up. As an obsessive, that just didn’t sit right with me.
Everything changed for me when Pete Carroll came to town.
Even as someone who didn’t know much about football, Pete Carroll was fascinating to me. His rah-rah enthusiasm and positive attitude, his past failures as an NFL coach contrasted with his unparalleled success at USC, his rivalry with Jim Harbaugh… The Seahawks’ slate was wiped clean, and from that point on, I started following football more closely than ever. I learned more about Carroll, about players he and new GM John Schneider brought on, guys like Marshawn Lynch, and Richard Sherman.
Most people who are Seahawks fans right now will tell you that when Marshawn Lynch had his “Beast Quake” run against the Saints in the first round of the playoffs that year, that was the first time the tone for this team was set. Most of us probably remember where we were when that happened. They were the losingest football team in history to make the playoffs that year. Then they got their hands on Russell Wilson. This year, many pundits predicted them to make the Super Bowl before the season even began. And here they are.