We are officially less than a month before the start of the NFL season, so it's probably time to start previewing the monster. The key to the NFL's success — other than fantasy football and gambling, of course — is the rabid nature of its fans. That is to say: You don't see a lot of people painting their faces for their favorite golfer.
We asked a gaggle of writers, from the Web, from print, from books, even a TV guy or two, to tell us, in as many or as little words as they need, why My Team Is Better Than Your Team. This is not meant to be factual, or dispassionate, or even logical: We just asked them to riff on why they love their team so much, or what their team means to them, or whatever. We will be running two a day until the beginning of the NFL season.
Right now: the Seattle Seahawks. Your author is Matt Ufford.
Matt Ufford is a writer for Kissing Suzy Kolber, under the nom de plum "Captain Caveman." His words are after the jump.
I have never lived in Seattle. I was born in an Army hospital outside Tacoma, and my family moved to Oklahoma before I turned three. Then we moved again, then again, and again, and a couple times more. Always the same military bases, just different states.
Growing up rootless, I claimed my home by claiming the Seahawks. Most fans end up loving a team at least in part because of its proximity; conversely, my team makes me feel closer to home. But it's been a bitch of a long-distance relationship.
I can draw eerily similar parallels between the Seahawks' history and my own. For example, the year I was born was Steve Largent's breakout season and the first time the 'Hawks had a winning record. The team made an unlikely run to the AFC Championship (beating rookie QBs Elway and Marino along the way); subsequently, I skipped second grade. But I'll deliver the abridged version, picking up in the 1990s. You'll see that the Seahawks' suffering and small successes follow — or maybe create — the trajectory of my own life.
1991: Things Start to Suck. If there's a better metaphor for the hell of middle school in New Jersey than drafting Dan McGwire No. 1 and hiring Tom Flores as coach and GM, I cannot think of one.
1992: Worst. Year. Ever. My family moves to Southern Illinois. I immediately despise everything about our new town and my new school. It's the least pleasant school year of my life. The Seahawks post a 2-14 record, their worst year ever.
1993-96: Freaks and Geeks. The Seahawks draft Rick Mirer No. 2 overall. Dennis Erickson replaces Tom Flores as coach. Kelly Stouffer and John Friesz are not the answers to Mirer's failure. Owner Ken Behring tries to move the team to Los Angeles. Guhhh. During the team's frustrating woes, I'm struggling with the possibility that puberty may never arrive. Chicks do not dig choirboys in AP Chemistry. High school blows ass.
1997: A Glimmer of Hope. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen buys the team from World Class Asshole Behring; Warren Moon joins the team and has an All-Pro season; the obviously retarded Tom Flores resigns as GM. I leave behind the cornfields and go to college, certain that not only will things get better, they will get awesome.
1999: Potential for Badassery. Mike Holmgren is hired away from Green Bay to serve as both GM and coach (because that worked so well with Flores). Seahawks fans experiment with positive mindsets. Meanwhile, I complete the Marines' Officer Candidates School, a transition which makes me comfortable with the idea of crushing a man's skull with a rifle butt.
2000-04: Real Life's a Bitch. The Seahawks blur the line between legitimacy and mediocrity. Words like "talented," "potential" and "Catch the fucking ball Koren Robinson!" surround the Seahawks' seasons. For every positive note the franchise hits — playoff appearances, the opening of Qwest Field (née Seahawks Stadium) — something else the team does becomes a punch line throughout the NFL. This couldn't more accurately describe my Marine Corps career, which can be summed up as follows: I almost get fired, I do a bang-up job of invading a foreign nation and I re-structure my life around a girlfriend who leaves me a month after I get back from the war. That last part — a complete failure to properly assess what was about to happen — is my "We'll take the ball and we're going to score!" moment.
2005 and Super Bowl XL: The Other Shoe Always Drops. The Seahawks are unstoppable. An 11-game winning streak, a record-breaking MVP season from Shaun Alexander and then ... [incoherent mumbling]. I spend the season dating the love of my life, a gorgeous, hilarious young actress who I absolutely don't deserve. It's too good to be true. I work two jobs 65 hours a week for 10 months so I can save up to get her an engagement ring.
Let's just say that instead of a princess-cut diamond, I ended up buying a very nice computer. For myself. And people wonder why I'm sensitive about the Super Bowl.
2006 Preview: What Else Can You Do, God? Throughout the course of an NFL season, as in life, a whole hell of a lot can go wrong. And some franchises, like some people, get the lion's share of bad luck in the world. Life isn't fair, and the Seahawks and I would be a lot happier if we just accepted our fate. Instead, we're going to go out and fight, broken-hearted but full of hope. Who knows? Maybe this is the year the Seahawks finally win the Super Bowl. It's a hard concept to grasp, because I can't imagine what implications it might have in my own life. I guess if the 'Hawks win in Miami next February, I can expect a long-awaited phone call: Actually, Scarlett, no — I don't have a date to the Oscars. Why do you ask?