Fair Weather Fan?

I have a dirty secret: I’m a woman and I watch Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.” I’m fascinated by the team of experts explaining the games of the past week, with highlight footage of up-close-and-personal coach/player interaction. I don’t speak the lingo, so I feel like an anthropologist visiting a distant tribe.

Blame it on the Seahawks, in their current incarnation. They’ve hooked me into a sport I know little about. Football’s never been a big deal to me; I’ve never taken the time to understand it. If it weren’t for the Seahawks, I’d be ticking off a list of righteous reasons to despise the sport. Violence against women? Check. Violence to the future brainpower of those young players? Check. Greedy capitalistic owners gouging the fans? Check.

And yet: little by little, the Seahawks reeled me. I usually skim the sports section of the Seattle Times, so I noticed in 2010 that the team was replacing coach Holmgren with the laid-back silver fox, Pete Carroll. He’s a lot easier on the eyes than Holmgren, who always struck me as one bacon cheeseburger away from a heart attack. Then the Seahawks started a young quarterback who vaguely reminded me of one of my nephews. A smart, earnest, impossibly optimistic young guy. I remember the playoff game in December 2012. Hombre and I were driving home from skiing and we turned on the radio to hear the last ten minutes of the game. It was so exciting we pulled over on the westbound shoulder of I-90 to listen. The Seahawks lost, but QB Wilson was so pumped. He was telling fans to wait and see what the team was going to do in 2013.

Yeah, okay. I started paying attention. I remember a friend asking me in 2013 if I was a Seahawks fan. I said, “I am this year.”

Not a great fan, I admit. Football players are so armored and their faces are hidden. I don’t always know one player from the other (exceptions: #3 and #24), and I don’t know what their roles/positions are. Honestly, when I tune into a game, it takes a few minutes to figure out which team we are. I’m not going to shell out forty-plus bucks for a sweatshirt. I’m not going paint my face, or dye my hair blue and green.

When the Seahawks play badly (see, the first 54 minutes of the Packers/Seahawks playoff), I can’t bear to watch. I run around the house doing odd chores to work off my nervousness. If it’s a home game, I keep an ear cocked for the Twelves roaring and then run into the living room to watch the replay. Even when they’re comfortably ahead, I’m anxious for them. Yet when they’re playing brilliantly, I jump and shriek like a teenage cheerleader.

The Packers/Seahawk playoff two weeks ago was 54 minutes of agony and six minutes of ecstasy. The Packers were playing so well, and we couldn’t get moving. I figured we’d play badly the first half and kick ass in the third quarter. Which didn’t happen. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, I lost faith and went to the store. Safeway was practically empty and eerily quiet. On the way home, I told myself the playoff was only a game, god damn it. Stop feeling shitty! Get over it! Tomorrow’s another day, etcetera. Why the hell did I care so much?

As I parked in our driveway, some neighbor shot a gun or exploded a firework. A Packer fan, I figured. Game over. Sigh. Went inside with my groceries, and Hombre was watching the game. It was still on! You missed a great play, he said. We’re only five points behind.

What happened next was a series of impossible moves that left me in a daze and took three days to absorb. I watched replays of those last few minutes to figure out what the hell happened. Our improbable win was a moving testimony to crafty endurance. Coming from Albuquerque (hello, Isotopes?) I’m proud to live in a city that has a team with so much New-Age, old-fashioned grit and badassery.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. For days, I’ve been saturated to the gills with Seahawk talk, articles, stats, photos, gossip. I feel pretty serene about the outcome. I’ve decided that whichever team wins today, nothing can top the Seahawks’ back-from-the-dead moves in their playoff against the Packers. I may be a fair-weather fan, but I’ll always remember and be inspired by what the Seahawks did in those last six heart-stopping minutes.

Of course, I tell myself that now. We’ll see if I can hold on to that serenity once the game starts!

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