I wasn’t afraid to share my pride, even though I was in “enemy” territory.
When a silly bet came my way I didn’t totally back down from it, despite the terms not being agreed upon before they were shared with the social media world. (Really? Can you call out someone out on a bet before you even talk to them about the bet you’re placing with them?) More on that in a bit.
I dished it out and when it was dished I took it with grace. I allowed the #GoHawks, and anti-Peyton Manning posts to go untouched on my social media wall. It’s all part of the fun right?
I fought a good fight in the hope that my team would do the same …
And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.
I had looked forward to this moment for two weeks. I was nervous, and it showed in the two Super Bowl dreams I had the morning of the event. A chubby Russell Wilson in a bright yellow King’s Court shirt. Wes Welker catching the first pass and going 30 yards (but the refs counted it for only nine!). The game being held at an empty warehouse and with no lights! Richard Sherman being nice. It was all part of my pre-Super Bowl slumber.
The pre-funk to the event was great! Church was uplifting and Super Bowl (but mostly Seahawk) related. My mom made a sweet looking football-shaped cake. My dad made French toast, and even dyed a couple of slices orange for me! The party guests were arriving and the snack spread was shaping up as one of the best ever!
And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened. Sure I was rooting for and picking the Broncos. You want to root and cheer for your team. You want to have confidence in your team. But I knew what the Seahawks defense could bring and I was nervous. There was a reason I picked them as my Super Bowl champions in the preseason. They were a complete team.
WEIRD SIDE NOTE: I picked the Hawks to defeat the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl. Funny, Seahawks win the Super Bowl, Texans finish with the worst record. Bookends to a season! Nailed it?
SIDE NOTE II: Just to prove that I knew what I was talking about back in September, here’s an excerpt from my preseason preview, “But there’s a buzz here in Seattle about this team, and maybe it’s feeding me too. They have a confidence that channels their head coach, Pete Carroll. A swagger that says, “We can’t be beat!” or maybe it says “U Mad Bro?” either way, the Hawks look tough. They upgraded their defensive line with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. They have the best secondary in the game, and they have a calm and collected quarterback in second-year man Russell Wilson.”
The analysts should-be asking me for advice. These were two teams I had watched all year-long. And not just highlight watch, but every down watch. I knew what the Broncos offense could bring. I knew what the ‘Hawks D could do. I knew my distaste about Wilson rolling out of the pocket and almost always finding someone open. This is what scared me most.
I still had confidence that the Broncos would do enough with the ball to put some points on the board. I mean, they averaged 37.9 points per game in the regular season. I know the Seahawks held opponents to 14.4 but there was NO WAY the Broncos were going to be held to that.
And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.
What if the score were 20-0 at the end of the first quarter? How would I react? I should’ve watched the game by myself? Nah, this won’t happen. These are the high-flying Broncos. Manning, Demaryius, Orange Julius, Welker, Decker and even Moreno! C’mon Kevin!
And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.
By far, the most frustrating and UN-fun Super Bowl I have ever watched.
It started with losing the coin toss (darn you Joe Namath!) and bridged over to the first snap of the game when the ball went off Manning’s helmet and into the end-zone for a touchback. And 12 seconds into the 48th Super Bowl the fun and excitement was quickly halted.
I clutched my football, rocked back and forth in the middle of the couch like Rain Man watching Jeopardy, shot quick Super Bowl trivia answers back to the people in attendance that weren’t quite sure about the safety and how frequently it happens as the first score (just three years ago … Tom Brady … second time ever).
As it had been in the postseason the Broncos run defense was great. Beast Mode was going nowhere. Down 5-0, we still had a shot, just needed a stop on third down. Nine-yard pass to Golden Tate. Need to get a stop on third down. Six yard pass to Doug Baldwin. Need to get a stop on third down. Thirty-seven yard pass to Baldwin. Need to get a stop on third down … screw it. Field goal 8-0.
Early second quarter, down 15-0 (by nightmare of 20-0 was on its way to becoming true) the Broncos looked ugly, but were driving. Then Manning is hit as he tosses the ball, it lingers up in the air and I’m hoping for Knowshon Moreno to just bat it to the grass. Nope, intercepted by Malcolm Smith and taken to the house.
My parent’s house erupted. My dad, who could maybe, maybe name three Seahawks entering the game, started his #GoHawks chant, talked about how Peyton was acting his age, and some other nonsense I zoned out on because well … because it was nonsense. I felt like it was time to leave. I didn’t want to be the downer of the party. I grabbed some snacks and went into the playroom. I needed to cool off and there was no better way to do that than by watching Frozen with my always smiling, always optimistic, 5-year-old daughter. Funny, needed to cool off and the movie of choice was Frozen. Fitting also because the hit songs from the movie are “Let It Go” – which I attempted to do – and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” – which I wanted to do.
Later the pundits would say Smith’s Super Bowl MVP was won off of that interception. It kind of put the game away. I can confirm that. I felt put away, even if there was a half of football remaining.
Oh, and a question for the 12’s. How many 12th Men knew who Smith was coming into this game? 10 … 11 … 12. That sounds about right.
The extended break from the second quarter, and the extended halftime allowed me to cool off and remind myself that it’s just a game. I need to stop getting too invested in these players, these teams, these games. It’s not good for my heart, and with each loss it only hurts more. I mean, does Manning really care about me?
I started the second half a little optimistic … and then the Broncos did something odd, blooping the kickoff and allowing the speedy, but fragile, Percy Harvin to catch the ball on the bounce and run it back for a TD. 29-0. Time for more snacks. I jokingly yelled #GoHawks. We were a minute into the third quarter and I was starting to embrace the loss.
Denver never looked comfortable. I had watched all but one of their games this season and there was only one time on Sunday I looked at Manning and the offense and felt they were comfortable. That one time they got the ‘Hawks to jump offsides. The rest of the night they looked out of sorts, like they spent too much time in New York and not enough time studying Omaha.
By early fourth quarter I decided to turn my phone back on. Bring on the trash talk. I received a few texts – funny most came from people I didn’t realize were sports fans until this past week – a few one word posts on my Facebook wall and this picture.
I found it amusing, but when the image appeared in real-time my buddy said, “Cut the lights!” in reference to last year’s lights going out in New Orleans. I found that more amusing so I made my own meme. See, I’m a good sport.
It was all reminiscent of the mid-’90s when my brother and I were diehard Phoenix Suns fans living in Seattle SuperSonics territory. After every Suns playoff loss – especially to the hands of the Sonics – our phone wouldn’t stop ringing with trash talk. After the No. 8 seeded Denver Nuggets upset the No. 1 seeded Sonics, my brother and I just stood in the background smiling and saying nothing. Especially when Mutumbo did this.
I’m excited for this city. It’s been a long time coming. I wish it wasn’t at the hands of one of my favorite teams. I wish I could join in the celebration, but really I’m not that excited because of who they dominated. DOMINATED! Why couldn’t it have been the Patriots?! I hate the Patriots!
I’m excited for the few buddies that I know have stuck by this team through the AFC years, Shaun Alexander MVP year, the Shaun Alexander Running out of Bounds Years, and the Legion of Boom / Russell Wilson years.
I think it’s neat for my son to see this team win. He wore his worn-down Marshawn Lynch jersey, the same one he’s had for three years, before a lot of these 12th Men had bought theirs.
I’ll pay off the bet I succumbed to. Yes succumbed. The bet was thrown at me for people to see before I could even counter. Silly me countered the outrageous bet of shaving my oblong head with getting a buzz cut instead. I’ll get my buzz cut with the ‘Hawks jersey. I’ll play the game fairly and won’t be a sore loser. Darnit!
I’m a man of my words. Stupid words perhaps, but I kept my bet. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was done at the Man Cave, a barber shop for men, with a pool table along with sports and movie memorbilia. Heck, when I was getting my hair washed I got to look at a picture of my two favorite girls from the ’80s – Princess Leia and Daisy Duke. My buddy wasn’t as bad as I thought he might be. He did give me a “Did You Know? That was the longest lead of any Super Bowl … ” I didn’t come here to hear stats I said. The first trim was scary, going from a mop top to a 1/2 an inch in as much time as it took the Broncos to fall behind in Sunday’s Super Bowl. The owner said I was a good sport, and that they wondered if I’d make good on my bet. I even had a blue 12 put on the back of my head.
The Morning After
Last night I went to sleep with a full tummy and a sore heart (mostly from the loss, though the gobs of shredded beef, bean dip, fried chicken, cake, cookies, pigs-in-a-blanket and chips didn’t help either).
This time there were post-Super Bowl dreams. Manning was flustered. Out of energy. He gobbled down orange slices to get his energy up. The Manning face looked crazed. I woke up in a heated sweat, and to the sound of my eldest tossing chunks from the top bunk. Luckily his brother had escaped from his bed below a few minutes earlier.
I woke up to 10 more Facebook posts, mostly fake apologies, again most from people I didn’t realize were sports fans.
And when I came into work and turned on my computer I was greeted by this image of Princess Leia. Way to go Ghosts of Kevin Past, you knew that if I woke up to rotating images from my “Omaha!” folder that the bad memories would come back. This image makes things all better. 😉
What did I learn this weekend?
I’m thankful for my immediate family and how they’ve taken to my investment in sports. In years past, my son Lukas would have taunted me. Instead he felt bad for me (or was annoyed by my dad) and decided to watch the game in the other room. Afterwards he celebrated, but it wasn’t in a way in which I wanted to sock him in the face. 😉
My daughter couldn’t careless. She’s always smiling, always content, the perfect remedy for the destruction of your team. She watched Frozen and her day was made.
When my wife and I first announced our engagement naysayers asked if she was into sports. “Nope. And that’s okay with me. She understands and acknowledges my love for sports, and that’s all I need.” Seriously, if she were a sports fan things would be a little tense in the household. As I sat and wrote this after the game she reminded me, “Ahh you, it’s just sports.” Sometimes it bothers me when people say that, but she’s right. It’s a game, it’s a sport, and I need to be reminded of that.