As a long-time fan of the Seattle Seahawks, this has to be one of the most anticipated seasons for, well, forever. Back in the 80's we had the dynamic duo of QB Dave Krieg & HOF WR Steve Largent leading the way featuring Ground Chuck with RB's Curt Warner & John L. Williams.
We also had some good times with Coach Holmgren, RB Shaun Alexander & QB Matt Hasselbeck (of course, there is not a Seahawk fan alive today who does not cringe at the phrase, "We want the ball and we're going to score!")
The 2005 season leading to Superbowl XL was definitely magical, but still not anticipated. After all, the Seahawks won the division in 2004 with a 9-7 record, yet lost (for the 3rd time that season) to division opponent St. Louis Rams in the Wildcard round.
The infamy continued for the 2010 Seahawks, who won the NFC West with a losing record of 7-9, then became the first sub .500 team to win a playoff game against the defending Superbowl Champion Saints. All those great teams were fun, but all lacked consistency. None had the anticipation factor that this team in 2013 has been building from the end of last season through this offseason.
What has changed for the Seahawks that gives fans such hope for the 2013 season? For
me, it all starts with Pete Carroll and his unique approach to coaching. When I try to classify his overall style, it's a difficult thing to do staying strictly within the boundaries of the NFL. Pete Carroll does not hold himself to strict standards when it comes to everything football, so it's fitting that we go outside the box when evaluating his performance.
I think a suitable match is available via the entertainment industry. Pete Carroll is by far one of the most energetic and positive coaches out there in the NFL. When has anyone heard him say anything negative about anyone? When it comes to players with supposed "red flag" attitudes/problems, when has that been an issue with Pete? In the past 3 years with the team, it has either been positive talk about players or they have been dismissed from the team without mention of negative traits.
There is only one fictional character that comes to mind when I think of the same attributes: Buddy the Elf. For those who have not seen the movie Elf, well, you should get your funny bone checked ???cause it's probably broken.
Buddy the Elf is the epitome of positive thinking. He was an orphan who, by a fantastic twist of
fate along with a healthy dose of curiosity, found himself in the enviable position of being raised by Elves in Santa's Workshop. He never quite fit in with the other Elves, but he had great spirit. That same spirit I see in Pete Carroll. He's always excited about seeing someone do good as well as not passing judgment on those who have off-field issues. It's easy to picture him walking into a local coffee shop and proclaiming, "Congratulations! The best coffee in Seattle! Good job everybody!" If Skip Bayless suggested Richard Sherman was on the Naughty List, I'm sure Pete would scream, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Even his journey from the NFL to college then back to the NFL is Buddy-like: "I travelled past the 7 levels of the Jets/Patriots organizations, through the twirly, swirly NCAA rules & regulations and then I walked through the Century Link tunnel."
The Seahawks definitely had another magical season in 2012, though it didn't start out that way. They lost an opening day thriller against the Cardinals in which Marshawn Lynch was mostly held in check and the phenomenal rookie Russell Wilson was harassed throughout the game by the speedy Arizona defense. After beating the Cowboys & (arguably) the Packers, a defeat in St. Louis, in which Wilson threw 3 picks, did not deter the Elf-like enthusiasm of Pete Carroll, who
surely encouraged his players in the locker room with the mantra, "The best way to spread Seahawk cheer is using corners who like to jeer!"
The Hawks went 4-3 over the next 7 games before heading to Soldier Field to take on the Bears,
which became the turning point in the Seahawks season. Much like when Santa was stranded in Central Park and turning to Buddy, said, "You're the only one I'd want working on my sleigh tonight," Pete Carroll & coaches turned to Russell Wilson to win the game, which he did.
Pete's likeability among the players along with his tenacity in stressing competition came to fruition in that one win. It was Elf in the mailroom, winning over fellow coworkers with that same likeability and some pretty sweet dance moves. The Seahawks won their final 4 games of the regular season by a combined total of 170-43.
There was a villain to oppose Pete in the Seahawks story, none other than Jim Harbaugh, coach of the 49ers. In the movie Elf, one antagonist was particularly violent towards our hero Buddy: famed children's author Miles Finch. The diminutive Finch took offense at Buddy suggesting he was another Elf from Santa's Workshop. I can vividly picture the scenario as it could be played out with Pete & Jim:
Pete: Oooh, it's Christmas and we have lots of light and noise for you here at Century Link!
Jim: Ha-ha, funny, who's the comedian? Can we play ball?
Pete: Oooh, we blocked a field goal and ran it back for a touchdown, I'm so excited!
Jim: We were one game away from the Superbowl last year!
Jim: The last time you were in the playoffs you didn't even have a winning record! I suggest you wipe that stupid smile off your face before I come over there and smack it off! ARE YOU FEELING STRONG MY FRIEND? RUB IT IN MY FACE ONE MORE TIME!
Pete: Oooh, look at Russell run around and make your defense look silly!
Jim then runs across the field toward Pete, who assumes he's coming in for a hug and...well, those who saw the movie know the end of that scene. Comedy at its finest, says I.
Buddy the Elf meets NFL, Pete Carroll style. That's a big part of what has made the Seahawks
special in 2012 and what gives us hope for 2013 and beyond. The greatest quality of Buddy is that he has boundless energy and an amazing sense of fun(no doubt by sticking to the 4 main food groups of candy, candy canes, candy corns & syrup...hmmm, I wonder if Marshawn was raised by Elves?) That quality of energized fun is what Pete Carroll has brought to the Seahawks and who can argue with the results? After all, what's more fun than winning?