Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Straightening out Seattle
By Jim Caple Page 2
An old friend called the other night to say she had overcome the considerable odds and had her name drawn to buy Super Bowl tickets. She was about as excited as any person could be over a trip to Detroit the first weekend of February and I felt very happy for her. She deserved those tickets. She is among the minority of devoted Seahawks fans who rooted for the team these past many years when no one else here in Seattle cared.
Seattle used to be a Seahawks town but that was two decades ago before Ken Behring, the Boz, the near move to Los Angeles, 22 years between playoff wins, the rise of the Mariners and those awful blue-on-blue uniforms. Thanks to all that, the Seahawks essentially lost a generation of fans.
That leaves a lot to catch up on.
Many of us here are so unfamiliar with the current team we think Mack Strong is a way to order coffee at Starbucks. I'll have a 12-ounce vanilla latte with two pumps of caramel at 140 degrees ... and make it Mack Strong. Heck, I'm still wondering why I can't find any Seahawks souvenir T-shirts that say, "2005 AFC Champions."
But hey, it takes a while to clear security when you're re-boarding the bandwagon. My friend Rod and I compiled the Top 10 Misconceptions People In Seattle Have About The Seahawks And The Super Bowl:10. The 12th Man is an actual position, and a Boeing employee from Lynnwood just made the All-Madden team.
9. Detroit is an American League city, so that means Edgar can DH.
8. Ex-Seattle running back Curt Warner won Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams.
7. Roethlisberger is a finely aged Whidbey Island cheese with a slightly nutty, piquant flavor, perfectly matched with a temperamental Columbia Valley pinot.
6. Chuck Knox still coaches the Seahawks.
5. Pro golfer Craig Stadler now coaches the Seahawks.
4. We see Jim Zorn on the sidelines and wonder why he's not in uniform.
3. Lofa Tatupu is the newest Pan-Asian bistro at Pike Place Market.
2. The Bus is another Sound Transit proposal that will be voted down in the fall.
And the No. 1 misconception Seattle fans have:
1. We invented the Wave.
I keep reading and hearing about how excited Seattle is for the Super Bowl, but the odd thing is, I never actually see this frenzy.
Granted, I don't hang out in the usual Seahawk haunts and I can be rather clueless to my surroundings. And I know the fans are out there. I see them on the news and in the papers and my friends tell me about them. But when I was out and about the last couple days, I made a point of looking for fans displaying Seahawks gear and I saw virtually nothing. I think I saw one car flag on I-5 and I-90, though maybe I was too busy talking on the cell phone to notice.
This is in sharp contrast to when I lived in Minnesota and Vikings fans excitedly filled the Twin Cities with so many replica jerseys, T-shirts and window flags it was if they all had been invited on one of those Lake Minnetonka Love Boat cruises. And that was just for exhibition games.
There are a couple reasons for this lack of display. One is that my editor, KJ, has bought up the entire stock of Seahawks memorabilia (there's an office pool on how much he'll spend in Detroit this week -- my estimate is $800, not including tax).
The other is that Seattle fans are too used to disappointments from our teams. Sure, we've had Husky football and many Rose Bowls wins, but even there, the lone national championship was shared with Miami. Meanwhile, the Seahawks nearly moved and went those two decades between playoff wins. The Sonics won the championship in 1979 but that was so long ago many fans don't remember it nearly as well as their infamous playoff meltdown to Denver and their loss to Chicago in the finals. And just when the Mariners finally got good, they lost Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez, then somehow failed to reach the World Series despite winning more games than any team in American League history. It tends to discourage you.
On the other hand, we did have the Storm's WNBA 2004 championship.
Seattle's reputation for rain is vastly overstated. New York City and most major cities east of the Mississippi average nearly as much or considerably more precipitation than Seattle. Want a great place to spend your summer? Visit Seattle where the average rainfall for most of July and August is about one inch.
That said, it's rained a lot here lately. I mean a lot. Olympia, the state capital, set a record with 30-some consecutive days of measurable rain. Seattle was slightly drier -- our streak ended at 25 days. Nonetheless, it has rained here almost every day since the week before Christmas. We received nearly 12 inches of rain in January.
In other words, this area could use a reason to celebrate. And if the Seahawks win Sunday, I'm sure I'll see and hear fans loud and clear, not just that day, but for months and years to come. The team will become the stuff of local legend, like Elvis at the Space Needle, the Beatles fishing on Puget Sound from their Seattle hotel room and Bill Gates watching "Star Trek: with Paul Allen.
And if the Seahawks lose? Oh well, it's supposed to be a good episode of "Grey's Anatomy."
Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is on sale at bookstores nationwide. It also can be ordered through his Web site, Jimcaple.com. Sound off to Page 2 here.