This is Part II of my celebration of the 2013 Seahawks, and recollections about Seattle’s 2005 Superbowl team. See Part I, here: https://olyirv2.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/250/
These Seahawk posts are prompted by an L.A. Times Bill Plaschke article which broke new ground in Emerald City sports coverage, painting Seattle as the Darth Vader, the villain, in the upcoming showdown with Denver. A Seattle sports team as mean and nasty is a first. Here again is the Plaschke article. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-super-bowl-plaschke-20140122,0,7596503.column#axzz2rCEB031j
Seattle sports teams have often been ignored, or dismissed by the national media as lacking the stuff to close the deal. There is of course some basis for that – the great Sonic and Mariner regular season teams, for example, that failed to close. The picture Plaschke painted was cartoonish. But it was a welcome sign of notoriety and respect for the 2013 Seahawks. And, to me, an omen of victory.
The 2013 Seahawks are respected — even likeable — because they are fearless, charismatic, unscripted, electric, confident, cool, and — here I’ll concur with Plaschke a bit – sometimes brutal, and not so nice. This is football, after all, not croquet. Please give me a brownie point for not saying “football ain’t bean bag.”
Compared with the 2005 Superbowl team, the current edition has many more followers and admirers across the country, more positive coverage, and an aura that should keep the refs in Superbowl 48 from (subconsciously) acting like the 12th man for Denver. Here are some reasons for the atmospheric changes between 2005 and 2013:
Mike Holmgren versus Pete Carroll: Holmgren, of Green Bay Superbowl fame, of course brought legitimacy to the Hawks, as does Carroll. But Carroll is charismatic, animated, svelte, spontaneous, unscripted, and has Hollywood star quality. Some of these qualities may lack substance, especially the one about Hollywood, but they all play big in contemporary media. Holmgren was accomplished, respected but definitely not a movie star.
Matt Hasseback versus Russell Wilson: Hasselback had his greatest season in 2005, posting remarkable numbers with a great QB rating. He did all of that with a make-shift receiving corp for most of the season, led by the famed Joe Jurevicius. At one point they played a guy who had been working at the post office, or was it a supermarket(?), just before being summoned to play at Quest Field. Hasselback should have been MVP that year, rather than Shaun Alexander. (More about Shaun soon). But Hasselback was quiet, bland, workmanlike, non-electric, and viewed nationally as a Manning or Brady wannabe, not a unique brand.
On the other hand, Russell Wilson has a distinct brand. A small (5’10” is an exaggeration) late round draft pick, fluid, fast, elusive, with an (unexpectedly) remarkable arm that can fire bullets or loft tear drop passes over the heads of tall defenders into receivers’ arms. He reminds us of Tarkenton, but his scrambling is more fluid and graceful. And Wilson is more a big play quarterback than Hasselback. The 2005 QB was competent, accomplished and respected. The 2013 QB has those attributes too, plus electricity, cool, and a brand of his own
Shaun Alexander versus Marshawn Lynch. In 2005, Shaun Alexander posted some of the greatest numbers of any running back in the history of the game, including almost 1,900 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns. While that remarkable year came on the heels of several very good seasons, Alexander was never in the conversation about the greatest running backs in history. You have to be good to accumulate those numbers, but to adapt a phrase from the U.S. President, “he didn’t build it himself.” He played in front of one of the best offensive lines of his time. Yes, he was durable; showed up every game for several years in a row, and got 20 to 30 carries a game. When combined with a great offensive line (Jones, Hutchinson et. al.), and an exceptional blocking back (Matt Strong), the result was off-the-chart numbers. He had nowhere near the moves of a Gayle Sayers or Walter Payton, or the power of Jim Brown or Earl Campbell. His greatest asset was durability and consistency. Like Hasselback and Holmgren, Alexander was not especially charismatic.
Marshawn Lynch, on the other hand, is as powerful as Shaun (perhaps more so), a lot faster, has more open field moves, and he can break for a score at any time, from any point on the field. His numbers are not close to Alexander’s, but then he has missed games and carries due to injury and his offensive line is just ordinary. Yet, Lynch is known as “The Beast” and when he breaks for a long run , shedding tacklers and running over people, he is characterized as being in “Beast Mode.” Was there anything nearly as colorful associated with Alexander?
The Heart of the 2005 Hawks (the offensive line) versus The Heart of the 2013 Hawks (their defensive secondary). The heart of the 2005 team was the offensive line — Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Toebeck et. al., plus blocking back Matt Strong. They should have received a group MVP, instead of either Alexander or Hasselback. But MVPs are not for 300 pound linemen. Even though Jones is surely headed to the Canton, Ohio Hall of Fame, and Hutch has a chance to get there too, offensive lines, no matter how great, don’t excite fans the way backs, receivers, and even the “front four” on defense can.
On the other hand, the heart of the 2013 Seahawks — their defensive secondary – is fast, spectacularly athletic, brutal, edgy, “in your face,” and (mostly) tall and handsome. The icing on the cake was Richard Sherman’s breath-taking, game saving play in the NFC conference championship game against the 49ers. Even his startling performance after that on national TV, though offensive to many, added to Seahawk notoriety and respect (of a certain kind). Sherman is already more of a celebrity than Jones or Hutchinson. (Though Sherman is of course a very long way from HOF consideration).
So, there you have it – why the 2013 Seahawks will do what their ancestors brethren failed to in 2005; i.e.,win the Superbowl, and with panache.