Meant to be read with audio playing, and speakers on. It is time. Let them come. Let the talking heads fawn over the visitor. It is the way this moment was destined to be written.
The team with the richest championship tradition in the conference enters with echoes of past glory filling their sails, and puffing their chests. They stand on the shoulders of legends who earned the honors bestowed upon them through games such as this one. But these men have not earned that honor. And the team they are facing brings with them more than stories of days long gone. They bring 68,000 voices united in the destruction of all who enter their lair. They are eleven. We are 12.
Talent guarantees nothing. It is a head start. It is performance absent hard work. There is no doubting the challengers talent, but the team they will face is something more. They prepare and work as if good is not enough, as if great is not enough. Only being the best will suffice.
One team enters this game believing their hype. They will rely on story lines coming to their logical conclusion. They tell themselves this time will be different. Everyone is healthy. Everyone is playing well. Their host is vulnerable, so they say. Reality punishes the smug and arrogant. It rewards the humble and poised.
A story line will continue on Sunday, but not the one they think. Seattle’s field of dreams will once again bring terror to their opponent. Excuses will be harder to conjure this time around. All the reasons they list for why they are better than the last game will turn into needles piercing their inflated self-image after the outcome sinks in.
They may be better than most. They may be better than everyone else. That is not good enough. Not on this day. Not against this team. Not against this crowd.
For this crowd will be unlike anything they have experienced before. This crowd will channel all the hopes and dreams of the 39 million who have had their tickets torn, punched and scanned since this franchise was born. They will draw strength from the city they represent and opportunity in front of them. There will be no headphones to save the challengers. There will be no quarter given. We show no mercy. We are 12.
Greatness will be defined. Ground will shake. Punishment shall be administered liberally. These Seahawks consume doubt and transform it into respect. This defense turns motion into stillness, animate into inanimate. Cross their yard at your own risk and your own peril. This offense is full of pit vipers, their lethal nature hidden from view. Your eyes will not recognize danger quick enough. You will only understand what has happened after the damage has been done. These special teams will rob you of oxygen, squeezing every yard and point out of you. Each will take turns crushing your will to fight back. When you scan your surroundings looking for escape, or perhaps just a break from the pain, you will find no path. Your eyes will drift upward, asking for salvation, but it will not come. We will be there. Your last thought will be, “We are just eleven.” We are 12.