Super Bowl Provides Clarity
Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 02:02
I am a Denver Broncos fan, but I was once a Seattle Seahawks fan. Let me explain: My dad grew up in Tacoma, Wash., and he has been a Seattle fan his entire life. He had the misfortune of identifying with the Mariners, the SuperSonics and the Seahawks. But I grew up in Boulder, Colo., home of the potsmokers, rock climbers and Broncos fans.
When I was a child, I felt two strong forces pulling on my allegiance as I decided whether to join my dad in his fandom or to make the geographically sensible decision to cheer for the Broncos. Although my dad adopted the Broncos, there was never a question that his real allegiance was with the Seahawks. For me, though, it was more complicated. Conveniently, Denver and Seattle are in different conferences, so I was able to root for both teams throughout my childhood because the teams rarely competed against each other. Regardless, I found that I often pulled harder for the Seahawks, led by running back Shaun Alexander, than the Broncos and their perennially mediocre quarterback Jake Plummer.
In the early and mid-2000s; my two teams had fallen into a routine. The Broncos would grab an AFC Wild Card, playoff berth and lose in the first round to Peyton Manning’s Colts. Meanwhile, the Seahawks would win a notoriously weak NFC West and then get smashed in the Wild Card round. But 2005 was special. Denver cornerback Champ Bailey had one of the greatest defensive seasons of all time, and for an encore in the playoffs, he intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it 100 yards, sealing a Broncos victory against the untouchable Patriots. Meanwhile, the Seahawks were finding as much success. Alexander broke the all-time touchdown record, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had a great season and the Seahawks swaggered their way into the Super Bowl.
I vividly remember a conversation I had with my dad that season. It was the eve of conference championship Sunday, and both teams were favored to win their respective division. After a day of skiing, my dad sat me down and told me to savor this moment. He said it’s rare to have two teams to cheer for, and it’s even rarer that both of them could possibly compete against each other in the Super Bowl. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Unfortunately, though, the ending was not sweet. The Steelers beat the Broncos before they defeated the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
But almost eight years later, I still think about the conversation on that January day. Contrary to my dad’s prediction, the Broncos and the Seahawks simultaneously took the league by storm once more. However, when both teams reached the Super Bowl this year, I didn’t feel giddy with excitement like I had in early 2006; instead, I was surprisingly unmoved.
When I was in eighth grade, I moved to California. Rooting for the Broncos became a way for me to take pride in my roots. I no longer identify with the current iteration of the Seahawks, anchored by Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and a stingy defense. However, my perceived disillusionment with the Super Bowl goes far beyond not cheering for the Seahawks anymore. I used to be one of those kids who would read the sports section of the newspaper every day and could recite baseball and basketball statistics off the top of my head. Today, apart from my Broncos, Georgetown basketball and the occasional soccer team, I rarely follow sports at all. I believe this phenomenon, however, is not uncommon. As students develop different passions and navigate busy schedules, sports begin to take a backseat. Personally, I find it hard to ignore the trivial nature of sports, and I worry someday, that I will regret all the time I’ve spent watching sports. Nevertheless, I thought that the chance to see the Broncos play — in and possibly win — the Super Bowl would bring my passion back.
You know how the story goes from there. The Super Bowl was an absolute horror show for the Broncos and everything that could have gone wrong did. At the end of the game, I felt confused, angry and resigned. Then the Seahawks fan texted me.
“There is always next year for the Broncos,” the text from my dad read. “I have to say that I feel like a burden since 1975 has been lifted.”
Before the Seahawks won Sunday, they had never captured a Super Bowl in nearly four decades of existence. The Mariners have never won the World Series. Oh, and by the way, the SuperSonics don’t exist anymore. For a city starved of success, Sunday represented a welcome reprieve. And for me, the Super Bowl provided some perspective. Through ups and downs, my dad has stuck with the Seahawks for nearly 40 years. In the meantime, he has introduced not only me, but my entire family to the culture of sports. My sister can go toe-to-toe with any sports fan when it comes to sports knowledge, and my mom, despite being originally from Japan, frequently watches NFL games (she also thinks Eli Manning is cute).
Ultimately, the Super Bowl loss won’t matter to me. Someday, Manny Ramirez’s botched snap on the first play of the game, Peyton Manning’s two ugly interceptions and Demaryius Thomas’ horrific fumble will be swept away. However, I will always remember receiving my first football jersey as a kid — Shaun Alexander’s No. 37 — and wearing it proudly around my grandparents’ house. I will remember the Seahawks-Broncos game that my dad took me to, when it was 10 degrees outside and the Broncos fans in the seats behind us kept swinging a stuffed “seachicken” into the back of my dad’s head. I will remember yelling Mile High’s trademark “incomplete” chant, and I’ll remember experiencing the deafening noise of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field in person.
Just as a team experiences peaks and valleys, my dedication to my favorite sports teams will fall and rise in the future. However, I know that even at the worst points, sports will serve as a key to my childhood and a connection between my father and me. So congratulations to my dad and congratulations to a fan base that has waited for so long. You deserved it. And we’ll see you next year.
Will Edman is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.