I’m a Broncos fan. (Yes, boo all you like.) And I’ve been dreading this potential Super Bowl matchup all season long. But that dread doesn’t come from fearing the Seahawks defense shutting down Peyton Manning or anything of that sort (though, admittedly, it’s the least ideal Super Bowl opponent for Denver), this Super Bowl showdown makes me uneasy because of the passion Seattle has show towards the 2013-14 Seahawks.
It’s the norm for fans to rally around a winner, but this… this is different. Seattle has a chip on its collective shoulder after having endured over a decade of brutal sporting moments: The theft of the Supersonics, the sketchy officiating during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XL loss, the utter incompetence from the Mariners post-2003, and the list goes on. It has given Seattle sports fans both a feisty edge and an underlying sense of desperation.
The strangest aspect of the Seahawks mania has been the way that non-traditional fans have rallied to the team (especially in the playoffs). Bandwagon fans are nothing new, but I realized something especally atypical was afoot when tuning into KEXP two weeks ago and hearing Kevin Cole playing a block of Seahawks pump up songs in anticipation of the NFC Championship game. The same night at Damien Jurado’s record release show, a fan yelled “Go Hawks!” and a bemused Jurado acknowledged it, leading to a loud cheer. This seeping of Seahawks fandom into realms typically adverse to anything jock related underscores the city’s building passion.
Part of the attachment of fans to team has to stem from the fact that fan base in recent memory has received as much direct credit for their team’s success, thanks to the phenomenon of the 12th Man and the team’s sterling home record. There’s no question that Seattle now boasts the league’s biggest home field advantage (and it’s not even kind of close). There's a mindset that the fans aren’t just uplifting the team; they're part of the team. It’s a shared sense of glory.
There’s a large part of me that wants to avoid watching the game with my Seahawks friends. I’m not concerned with being jeered or heckled, I just don’t want to potentially be cheering wildly as the Broncos pen another depressing chapter in Seattle’s sports history. You’ve gone through enough. I crave victory, but fear the collective funk this city will be in come Monday if things don't go the Seahawks' way. Regardless of the result, it’s been a terrific season for the Seahawks. And it’s been an even better season for the Seattle fans.
May the best team win.
Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos
Feb 2 at 3:30, Televised on FOX