Back in 1982 I became aware of the NFL. Like most of us UK NFL fans at the time, we were aware of the Dallas Cowboys, but as coverage – and awareness – grew so we all picked a team, and stuck with them. For me I recall seeing the Seahawks beat the LA Raiders – another team that I’d known of – that was enough for me. I became a Seahawks fan. Its been a decision I’ve never regretted. It was a good time to become a Hawks’ fan. The defense was a good one, led by Kenny Easley and Jeff Bryant. I can just about remember Jim Zorn, but he was replaced by Dave Kreig, the quarterback that led the Seahawks for much of the 80s. Being a fan then mean putting up with a lot of unpredictability from Dave Kreig, although he would go on to be one of the top QBs the NFL has seen – in terms of statistics anyway.
Kreig led a good offence – most QBs though would look good with the legendary Steve Largent to throw to. Curt Warner was a fine running back, and the Seahawks made semi-regular visits to the playoffs, although never seriously looked like making it to the Super Bowl. When the inconsistent Kreig gave way to Kelly Stouffer & Dan McGwire, it led to a steady decline in the Seahawks play. But that didn’t deter me. I’d been a Seahawks fan for long enough to take the bad times with the good. 1989 – 1998 saw no playoff appearances, and expectations were low. There were few high points in those years – although we did see DT legend Cortez Kennedy drafted. But things hit a low point in 1992 with the 2-14 season, part of 8 straight non-winning seasons. Oddly that coincided with the disastrous ownership of Ken Behring. I think most of us at the time were linked to Seattle as much as to the Seahawks, and the move of team operations to Anaheim looked like the precursor of a relocation from Seattle to California. I think many would have given up on being Seahawks fans with the team in LA.
Thankfully, that didn’t come to pass when the team was literally saved by Microsoft founder Paul Allen. Being bought by a Seattle native meant the Seahawks would remain in Seattle. Its a special link that means so much to fans and the team alike. The “12” jersey was retired for a good reason – the best fans in the NFL. The old Kingdome and Century Link field are LOUD! But fans of the Washington Huskies and the then Sonics were equally loud and it made Seattle a tough gig for many visiting teams. Allen’s intervention and subsequent hirings of Mike Holmgren then Pete Carrol (Let’s ignore Mora’s 1-year tenure) were the basis of turning the team into a Super Bowl contender. It led to competitive teams being put out on the field with the acquisition of Matt Hasslebeck and Shaun Alexander – along with a solid defense that led to finally making it to the big show in 2005. It was a false dawn thanks to abysmal officiating. The loss did lead to a mini-decline leading to Mora being fired and Carroll coming to Seattle.
Things looked shaky initially with Carroll making literally hundreds of player transactions in an effort to make Seattle competitive. But he – and John Schneider – has the ability to see beyond the round a player was drafted in, being able to see what a player can bring to the party. Russell Wilson has been a great example of that. A “short” 3rd round pick who has transformed how the Seahawks play on offence. The trade for Marshawn Lynch was also a huge step in the right direction. Who would forget the Beastmode run in the 2010 playoff win over the Saints? Acquisitions of Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse have made Seattle competitive offensively, but its been on defense that Carroll has made the biggest changes. He and John Schneider wanted big defensive backs, and what did it matter they weren’t high round picks? Only Carroll could take a fifth round pick in Richard Sherman and end up with the NFL’s top shutdown cornerback. Malcom Smith is another low round pick who has landed an Super Bowl MVP.
Carroll has put together the best defense the NFL has seen since the 2000 Ravens & 1985 Bears. Fast and dominating culminated in journey’s end in New York this week. Seattle dominated Denver in a manner that left no doubt that the Seahawks had made it, and were legitimate Super Bowl champions. Its been a long road for me personally, and thousands of other long-term Seahawks fans. We’ve been rewarded for sticking with a poor team in the lean 1990s, when the team was at real risk of leaving Seattle. All things come to they who wait, and wasn’t it worth the wait?