This One’s On You, 12th Man

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We have all seen it. The moment where a rock climber loses his grip, or a mountain climber slips and slides down the ice toward certain disaster. The person falling has trained. He has experience, and has bested many mountains before. The trouble he finds himself in now is not due to arrogance, lack of effort or preparation. Today, this mountain has presented a challenge that cannot be overcome by the climber alone.  Others will have to intercede in order to save him and allow his ascent to continue.

12th man, your team is falling.

They have clawed and fought their way farther up the NFL ranks than anyone could have reasonably expected in this amount of time. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have made over 230 roster moves. They have brought you Marshawn Lynch for a pittance and traded away Deion Branch for a ransom. They have plucked Mike Williams off the scrap heap and given you the best young receiver this city has seen in years. They executed a near perfect draft, upgrading the roster almost overnight with cornerstones like Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. Carroll and his staff have revamped the defense, maximizing their talent in clever and unexpected ways. Backups like Red Bryant and middling talents like Colin Cole were alarmingly worthy of Pro Bowl consideration. Veteran Lawyer Milloy is playing better than nearly any safety in the NFL at the age of 36.

The players have delivered consistent effort each and every week, even if the results have not been as consistent. There has never been a point where their energy or focus could be questioned. They brought home the first meaningful road victory 5+ years. They have embraced Carroll’s compete mantra and showed amazing professionalism in handling the constant roster churn that goes along with it.

And now, they’ve reached a moment they will not be able to overcome on their own.

Devastating injuries, a faith-testing loss, and possibly the season’s toughest opponent staring them down has left the team shaken. No amount of great leadership can keep a team from losing its breath when it gets hit as hard as the Seahawks have this week.

That is where all of you come in. The team needs your best on Sunday, and I’m not talking about a few screams until they fall behind kind of stuff. The Seahawks need the kind of 12th man presence that will apply shock paddles to their faintly-beating heart. It won’t be easy. Qwest Field was in rare form for both the 49ers and Chargers games. The team has already witnessed greatness. What they need on Sunday is chanting to start during warm-ups. What they need on Sunday is screaming to start while the Giants are still calling the play in the huddle. What they need is the loudest cheers to come when their faith is most tested. If you can talk on Monday and their isn’t ringing in your ears, you haven’t done your job.

I understand that this is a hard game to get up for as a fan. Many signs point to a soul-crushing whupping one week after a gut-punching loss. Any attempt to come up with a statistical or match-up advantage for the Seahawks is largely wasted time. The Seahawks team that takes the field this week will not be the one that’s taken the field so far this year. It’s almost like opening day all over again. Use whatever motivation you can find to prepare yourself.

Angry that Republicans just took over the House? Use it. Angry that the Democrats still have the Senate? Use it. Pissed off that the Sonics will be back in the NW via the OKC Thunder @ Portland tomorrow? Use it. Frustrated that the Huskies are flailing in another lost season? Use it.

The East Coast thinks your team is crap. The Steelers won the Super Bowl fair and square. The Summer in Seattle sucked. The days are already getting shorter. Your colleague across the hall is talking smack about you behind your back. You’re ugly.

The crowd noise in Qwest is piped in artificially. Arrowhead is louder.

That’s right. I said it. What are YOU going to do about it? How are you going to win this game for your team?

Write the next chapter in your legend 12th man. Reach out and grab the hand of your falling team and pull them back up so they can keep climbing.