Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What a difference 8 years makes

8 years ago the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers en route to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

I was working that day but I managed to make it to the bar upstairs in time to watch the game in its entirety with some of my best friends.  I don't remember much from 8 years ago, but I can distinctly recall that drive home from Seattle to Renton and the vibe that resonated throughout downtown Seattle.

Everyone was celebrating together.  Car horns blared though the air, strangers embraced and there was blue and green everywhere you looked.

Up until this week, there hadn't been much difference between then and now. I think that clinching the Super Bowl birth was a bigger deal in 2005 than it was this time around, but only because we'd never gotten that far before.

Seahawks Fever '13 didn't reach it's climax until the NFC Championship game-- partly because it was Seattle versus San Francisco and partly because the fan base was still reeling from the gut punch of last years loss in Atlanta.

But this week feels totally different from 2005.

In Super Bowl XL, Seattle was a better team than the Pittsburgh Steelers.  There wasn't much debate on that.  The Steelers were a Wild Card team that somehow found themselves representing the AFC in the Super Bowl while Seattle had the best record in the NFC.

However, when Super Bowl week arrived, the talk wasn't about the Seahawks at all.  It was about a scrappy young team that battled its way into the Super Bowl, a 2nd year quarterback already reaching the pinnacle of his profession and a veteran running back playing in his final game before his hometown crowd.

The media coverage was decidedly in favor of Pittsburgh before Super Bowl XL.  They had the kind of storylines that even those unfamiliar with the sport could latch onto. That's no excuse for the outcome, believe me, it would have been even sweeter to win with no one in our corner.

What the Seahawks were missing in 2005 can be summed up in one word: Swagger.

As great as that team was, they failed to convince anyone outside of the Pacific Northwest that they deserved to be there. Coach Holmgren was quiet and reserved.  Matt Hasselbeck was humble and lighthearted.  Even the league MVP, Shaun Alexander, was extremely modest and soft spoken. The closest thing to swagger that this team had was the mouth of hit-or-miss tight end, Jerramy Stevens.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't want to give you the impression that I didn't have confidence in our Seahawks. I thought we were in it until the very end. The heartbreak didn't hit me until the confetti dropped. 

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that I feel Seattle has had the better overall roster in both Super Bowl appearances, but this year is definitely more evenly matched. The major difference between the Seahawks of '05 and the Seahawks of '13 is the swagger they bring. 

Even with, in my personal opinion, the greatest football player who ever lived quarterbacking the opposition-- Seattle has made this week and this game all about them. It's about Richard Sherman, Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor.  It's about us.

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