Watching the Seahawks beat the Cardinals last Sunday was fun. It was not a perfect game. In fact the best play of the game came by way of a blown personal foul call on Kam Chancellor for blasting Todd Heap with a nastiness that we have not seen since the great Kenny Easley patrolled the Seahawks’ secondary in the 80s. The hit was more than Chancellor attempting to pave the way for Earl Thomas’ INT (also negated by a questionable interference penalty) it was a message. It made clear that while our offense will at times experience the pain of growth, our defense will be inflicting the pain of being edgy if not a little angry.
But as the game was being played under schizophrenic Seattle skies a less entertaining game was being played out on my social network timeline. Despite winning our first game of the season, two rather banal arguments played out between some Seahawks fans. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I have written elsewhere about my admiration and respect for Seattle sports fans; particularly Seahawks fans. But as close as I generally feel for my fellow 12s, I can’t help but notice (and perhaps shaky seasons bring this out in greater measure than would the solid start of a stable team) that some fans cannot seem to pause from the avocation of being a “better” fan than their fellow 12s. Issue a critique of any kind and “glass always full” fans will beat you about the head with a stick all the while professing their optimism. If your critique is sufficiently hostile you might even be accused of drinking “Hateorade”. Drink a little too much of what Pete Carroll is selling while lending voice to thought and in will drop a brigade of fan-cynics who then proceed to excoriate the most accessible layer of positivity. If anyone thinks my description an abuse of hyperbole I challenge you to watch a Twitter timeline during the next game and then get back to me.
To be clear, this is not all fans; not even the majority of them. Unfortunately what they lack in numbers they more than make up for in unfiltered volume. And this divide, this all or nothing concept of being a fan is amazing for being both unique and wrong. In almost no other den of life does absolutism pass even the most generous of BS tests. If a fellow 12 and I both see the same movie and leave the movie a fan, there is no expectation that either of us like it completely. We can debate the plot, the acting, and ending without worrying about offending the other. Moreover, it does not occur to us to expect perfect cinematic fandom. Absolutism in any form is always a little scary, and often comes off as a road taken in an effort to feel superior to another. This we do not need. Season records and games end in absolutes but should not extend to our judgement of each other as fans. I can almost hear the response now–“But we don’t feel about a movie the way we feel about a team that we love, it’s different.” But it’s not. Take a friend you’ve known for many years. You love him or her but do you really expect everyone else in the world to feel exactly the same, to the same level? And this is not about liking or loving the Seahawks. This isn’t about that. It is about the need some have to make others feel like their way of showing support is lacking in one way or another.
Consider if you would the two most polarizing debates going on right now; debates that are leading to some fairly ugly exchanges between fans of the same team.
1. It’s all about Luck: Andrew Luck is the highly touted QB prospect from Standford. He’s been evaluated as being the best QB prospect since John Elway and Dan Marino by more than a few of the top scouts. He’s next years’ can’t miss prospect. Whoever gets him will immediately be made a great deal better; the fortunes of the team who draft him increased dramatically. Because of Lucks’ skills now it is easy to bet on him for the NFL. And as Seahawks fans most of us can agree that we need a long-term franchise QB; and soon. This fact, coupled with a slow start with a young line and a modestly skilled signal caller in Tarvaris Jackson (and his backup, Charlie Whitehurst) have led some Seattle fans to embrace as a grand strategy the tanking of this season so that we may draft Luck first in 2012. I’m not talking here about people who don’t want the season to tank but who won’t mind getting Luck if it happens. No, here I am talking about people who are actually hoping the Seahawks lose.
Their argument goes like this: Seattle isn’t going to be that good this year so we really haven’t got a whole lot to win for. Let’s take our medicine this year knowing sometimes medicine tastes bad, but knowing too that in the end, we’ll be a whole lot better next year, and on our way. How can anyone not see the greater good in this–a real fan looks big picture!
This argument causes some Seahawks fans near seizure levels of anger and frustration. As a result we are sometimes treated to a vitriolic response.
Those opposed–their argument goes something like this: What!? No one claiming to be a true fan could hope for Seattle to lose games, just to get a draft pick. A real fan would see the idiocy of this; hell a newborn chimp could see the idiocy of this. That is NOT being a real fan.
I have not fallen victim to exaggeration or over-dramatization in my handling of those two arguments. I’ve seen both (almost word for word) many times over the past few months. What I find interesting about them however is not in the way they disagree but rather in the way that, in the end, both groups would answer the same to the following question: What do you want the Seahawks to do in the coming years? Super Bowl wins–right? But in that each side wants the same ending, they miss almost entirely the points that the other make while inflating their own.
Despite their wanting the best long-term solution to the most vital of NFL positions, supporters of the “All in for Luck” are missing some things. First, Andrew Luck is not a sure thing and has never suited up or thrown a single pass in the NFL. Struggling with that a little? Well here are a few names you might remember, in no particular order–WR Charles Rogers, DL Dewayne Robertson, QB David Carr, DL Courtney Brown, QB Akili Smith, RB Ki-Jana Carter, Rick Mirer (thought by none other than the late Bill Walsh to be the next Joe Montana) and the list just keeps going. I am not suggesting here that Andrew Luck will become a member of this list. I am however suggesting that none of the teams or coaches of the teams that took the guys on this list thought their guy would wind up there either. And even if Luck is every bit as good as we’re being told, there are so many things one cannot account for in the NFL; especially injury. In fact, a number of the names on the list above suffered injuries that significantly affected their careers. But it is worse than that. Any team that purposefully tanked games (even if the goal was to get better as a result) would be guilty of committing a fraud on those paying to watch them play now. And the stench of tanking; well, it might just linger longer than most might think. We have to measure not just the acquisition but the methods used in acquiring players.
As for those who think less of those fans who want Andrew Luck for the next 15 years at the cost of this year might do well to remember that Andrew Luck might just be everything they say he is. He might be the guy to take us to the big show and allow us to come away with a win. Since I casually drifted into the land of “what if” as it relates to those who want Andrew Luck at the cost of a season in order to show the potential pitfalls of such thinking, what about the alternative what if? What if Andrew Luck led a great Seattle team to two Super Bowls in the next five years, winning both. Would you trade this year, with all of the growing pains, rookie mistakes, and average QB play for that? Even if you publicly kept up the support, is there no chance that privately you’d drift a little; perhaps even to a point of quietly hoping that the means would justify the ends? Even if you wouldn’t, is it really about those who would being “traitors” to the cause of being a fan? Do traitorous Seattle Seahawks fans generally want Super Bowl wins for the team?
Both sides of this are also joined by where I (and I suspect many of you) sit. We want the Seahawks to in this year, all year, every game. But if they cannot win, if they try but still lose, and out of that came the chance to draft a great QB, I’d be beyond thrilled. What this gets down to is being able to see the points the other side is trying to make, even if you disagree with the road they think best traveled to get there.
In part 2 of God Fan/Bad Fan we’ll be taking a look at another controversy, this one more real-world and immediate; Jackson or Whitehurst?