Driving along Route 1 in California is among the most beautiful road experiences in the United States. The asphalt curves and climbs beneath your wheels, flanked by a wall of rock that climbs to the sky on one side and a cliff that dives into the sea on the other. Blue ocean becomes white foam, melting into the rocks below. At some point along the journey, you realize just how far down below those rocks are, and how close your car is to joining them. The beauty and serenity is replaced with concern and caution. Any driver's ed teacher will tell you that your car will follow your eyes. Stare at the rocks and ocean at the bottom of a steep cliff , and your car will start drifting in that direction. The very thing that makes the drive so rewarding and enriching makes it risky and dangerous. As Seattle prepares to embark on what we all hope is a historic run to this city's first NFL championship, I find myself thrilled by the heights and keenly aware of the rocks below.
Few cities appreciate how hard it is to win a championship than this one. We have seen baseball teams win more games than any other team in history. We have seen baseball teams that have the best player and best pitcher in the game. We have seen a football team romp it's way to the Super Bowl. What we have not seen, for any team that still plays here, is the trophy that signifies the ultimate team accomplishment. There have been no parades. No Sports Illustrated commemorative editions. No refs congratulating instead of apologizing. Yet, we persevere.
San Francisco fans love to flaunt their five Lombardi trophies. Forget that most of them were in diapers the last time they won one, and in hiding for a decade while the team struggled. Show me the ones who were fans from day one of the franchise and had to wait 37 years to win their first championship. Have them describe the feeling they had when that drought was finally broken. Those tiny minority of 49er fans know the path we walk in Seattle.
Life is a collection of moments. We collect them and carry them with us while we set out in search of the next one. Those of us that unite behind the blue, green and silver have a spot reserved for that moment when the Seahawks break through and leave no doubt. We daydream about what we will do when that moment arrives. None of us know that feeling, but I'm pretty sure it will be something we take with us and recount for generations to come. Patriot, 49er, Packer and Giants fans may have trophies, but they will never again experience the splendor of winning their first. That is ours for the taking.
To whom much is given, much is required. These Seahawks have been blessed with a great owner, great coach, great general manager, great teammates, great fans, and good health in most cases. It is up to them to seize this opportunity. But not just them. Seahawks fans have been given a terrific team, filled with terrific people. We are accountable for making that field as inhospitable as is legally and ethically possible on Saturday. Selling your ticket on a ticket exchange to someone who may be a Saints fan is not going to help.
We have done loud. It is time for Seahawks fans to innovate beyond that. There is nothing keeping us from varying our noise levels. We could start simulating snap counts. Yelling "Hut!, Hut! Hut!" as the teams approach the line of scrimmage. It will take some organizing, but we could do it. There have to be new and different ways to improve the advantage we have built here. We have three days to make it happen.
This is the best team in franchise history by nearly every measure. Getting to this point takes so much more than being the most talented. Schedule, injury, and a host of other variables can make a great team average in any given year. As good as Tom Brady and the Patriots have been for the past 10+ years, including an undefeated season in 2007, they have not won a championship since 2004. So much has to go right, even for the very best teams, to reach that peak. Nothing can be taken for granted. Seattle is rightfully given the best odds to win the Super Bowl of any team in the playoffs, but there is still a greater chance that they will not win than that they will. We have a chance. A great chance, but that's all it is, a chance. An opportunity to be the best.
Guess who else has a chance? The New Orleans Saints. Their chance is not as good, but they have walked the path before. What are you doing to make sure their season ends Saturday? Do more. Prepare yourself for adversity. Cheer in the face of it. Give the offense a loud cheer after a three-and-out the way you would a player exiting the game in the NBA. Start cheering immediately after a big play by the Saints. Show them their punches have no effect, the way a player pops back up after a big hit. Be your best. Leave no doubt.
Pete Carroll is leading a Seattle caravan down a road he has driven before. We are seeing things never before seen in these parts. The view is breathtaking, and is bound to get better as long as we keep our eyes on the road. This is not the place for cruise control or texting. This drive requires two hands on the wheel and your best music blaring out of the speakers.
The Seahawks now face a crucible with different dangers and tests. Nobody will underestimate them. Every game will bring out the best in their opponent. Drew Brees and the Saints are not Mark Brunell and the Redskins from 2005. And that Redskins team made Seattle earn every point in a 20-10 victory. There is no ticker-tape parade without winning this game. This Seattle team and fans are the best in the NFL. It is time to prove it.