You are laying in bed. It is 5AM on a Saturday, and you should be sleeping. Everyone else in the house is fast asleep, as normal, well-adjusted people should be. But you are not normal or well-adjusted, and this is no common Saturday. This mania that grips you is not a burden you bear alone. People across the city, across the region, even across the world, are united in thought so strong, it will bring millions of people into alignment for three-and-a-half hours. It is game day; Seahawks game day. Let normal people sleep. There is a playoff game to be won.
Picking which jersey, shirt, pants, underwear combination will yield the optimal karmic energy for the Seahawks can be difficult. Maybe you pick exactly what you wore for the last game they won at home. Or perhaps there is a specific playoff recipe you like. You, too, have to decide if adjustments are needed after the first blowout versus the Saints. Nobody would blame you if showed up wearing the same outfit from that Monday night. Being a veteran affords you the knowledge that layers are crucial on windy, rainy days like this one, and nobody packs their clear plastic Seahawks bag better than you.
The game is main course, but game day is a seven-course meal. Seahawks dominate the newspaper, ESPN, NFL Network, and sports radio as you get the day started. Your family wishes you good luck as if the jersey on your back was going to grant access onto the field itself. We know that luck is just the intersection of preparation and opportunity, and these Seahawks are as prepared as any team in football.
Hundreds of thousands across the city are making their own preparations for what is ahead. It is a silently synchronized event. Their power is dispersed at the moment, but that begins to change.
Deciding when to make the pilgrimage down to SoDo is a group decision. Somebody needs to hold down a spot while the rest of the crew gets there. As you step off the bus or try to forget the price you just paid for parking, you see the transformation has begun. Blue, green and silver interrupt the drab gray of downtown. Smiles come easy and people walk with pace and purpose.
Brothers and sisters of the hawk flood streets that are otherwise reserved for people far less fortunate than themselves or far younger. You are part of a force that gathers like a Pacific storm. People will guess at just how much damage you will cause this afternoon. Adrenaline is already pulsing through your veins. You know what is coming even if they do not.
That moment when you enter the bar is like Cheers ten times over. Nobody may know your name, but every person in there is your friend; bonded by a sometime tortuous past and an unending thirst for the ecstasy of ultimate victory.
Decision time. Is 9AM too early to drink? Not on this day. Habits reserved for college kids are allowed and encouraged. Conversation comes easy. You are with your best friends, your closest family, or both. The frost that usually keeps people at a safe distance in Seattle melts as strangers become fast friends. Allegiances to political party, religion, race, social class, gender that normally divide are muted by the logo stitched into their shirts.
The energy in the bar is a micro-cell. You know it will grow and multiply as these cells combine. The clock calls you, and others like you, to the stadium. This is your warm-up. Your pulse quickens. CenturyLink Field is in view the entire way, but is obscured by buildings and the masses in front of you. Until you walk around that last corner and your heart skips a beat for just a second as it comes into full view. You know this place. You know what happens here. Your body is drawn to it. There is nothing behind you now. Only the field in front of you matters.
It is as this point that those joining you are funneled to a point to earn entrance. Cows herded through a gate. Salmon squeezed through a bend in the river. Your energy has built through the morning and slowing to a crawl for even a few minutes tests your patience. A security guard starts a conversation with the woman in front of you about the case her phone is in. This feels like someone standing between you and a loved one. The power you tap into to prepare for these games comes from an animalistic place. It cannot always be controlled. You are tempted to shout, “It’s a fucking phone case! Can we move this along?” Wisdom has not completely departed you yet, and so you remain silent. It will be the last silent moment of your afternoon.
Bag is checked. Body is molested, er, patted down. And now that precious piece of paper with the rectangle of vertical bars is presented to the person in the blue jacket with their electronic scanners that double as keys to the Pearly Gates. A satisfying BEE-BOOP confirms your entrance into Shangri-la. You wait for your partners to find their way through, and then start the trek up. Reaching the 300 level robs you of some breath, but that is only basecamp. The ascent up near the top of the stadium thins the air and briefly causes you to remember that you really need to exercise more.
Finally, you reach your row. The spot on Earth that only you are allowed to occupy. Plastic bag goes below your seat. Decisions are made about which layers to keep on and which to remove. Sinking into your seat as you turn around and take in not just the view, but the electricity emanating from every part of the stadium. This is not a normal game. You can feel it. Seahawks fans have come with bad intentions on this day. They are a tidal wave that has not yet crested.
Opponents feel it. They try to ignore it, but they know what is coming. Their warm-ups are filled with feeble attempts to make the energy their own, but it can only be used for one thing, and that is their destruction.
Kickoff is nearing. The Seahawks will receive. Every seat is occupied by a warrior ready to join the fray. The flag they fight under is now raised. It ripples in the wind and stirs them further. The Seahawks take the field. A jersey bearing the #11 settles into the end zone. The volume is beyond comprehension. Ground shakes. The referee drops his hand and blows his whistle that nobody hears. The kicker begins his journey toward the ball and certain doom. Kickoff. Go Hawks.