What's It Like to Live in a Championship City?
I began to think about it on the ride over to Jeff and Sullivan's house, Patricia and I with our drinks, our salad, our 12-Man cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. I thought about it particularly after I saw all the people in the streets, an hour before gametime, wearing their Seahawks jerseys: #s 3, 12, 24, 25, 80. I suddenly realized I'd never lived in a city that had just won a major sports championship. What was that like?
I grew up in Minnesota and when the Twins won the World Series in 1987 I was living in Taipei, Taiwan—about as far away as you could get without leaving the planet. When they won in '91 I was living in Seattle.
And that was that. Because Seattle hasn't won any major sports championship since 1979.
Sure, we had the M's in '95. That was exciting. And I was in the thick of it. But they never even made the World Series. They never even made Game 7 of the ALCS. They had a great run but they were never champs. Don't get me started on the last 10 years.
So I was wondering what it would be like in Seattle if the Seahawks won.
I'd never been on that positive end of a rout before, either. First play from scrimmage and we're up 2-0. Then 5-0. 8-0. The Seahawks were dominating completely at this point but the score didn't really reflect it. One long pass and the Broncos were back in it. But they didn't get that pass. 15-0. 22-0. I was thinking maybe the Broncos would get that great halftime speech, or something, but first play of the second half and Percy Harvin runs it back 87 yards for a touchdown: 29-0. That felt like the nail but I'm sure the nail was driven in earlier. The game was like a hardware store: You have your pick of nails. Final: 43-8. The only 43-8 score in NFL history, according to Nate Silver.
We got firecrackers and fireworks immediately—neighbors of Jeff and Sullivan. On the ride home, there were horns honking in Fremont. On 99 we saw the following digital-sign warning: “There are extra DUI officers on the road right now.” Downtown, groups of people out in Seahawks jerseys whooped it up. I saw pockets of enthusiasm. But that was about it.
At home I couldn't stay home, so I walked over to the Quarter Lounge and checked things out. Apparently there'd been 150 or so people there for the game, but when I arrived, 90 minutes after the final play, there were maybe 30. Some whooped it up. Most quietly soaked it in. On TV a local broadcast highlighted a celebration somewhere on Pike. Was it downtown? Or Capitol Hill?
On the walk up Madison I passed three guys, drunk and stupid, shouting and hitting garbage cans and dancing bad dances in the street. Horns honked at them. In celebration? In annoyance? A fine line.
On the walk down Broadway one guy high-fived me. That was it. But when I got to Pike it was Mardi Gras. Without the beads.
The street was cordoned off and cops stood on both Broadway and 11th. In the middle of it all, folks whooped, chanted, played call-and-response: Sea .. Hawks! ... Sea! ... Hawks! ... Sea!....Hawks! ... Wooooooooo! Beer bottles and cans littered the street. Everyone was filming everyone. I joined in that.
There was tons of enthusiasm but it had nowhere to go. Where did people want it to go? That would've been an interesting question. Toward what? I think just up in the air.
This is my city but it wasn't really my celebration. I haven't been a football guy since the 1970s. The only football jerseys I own are Minnesota Vikings jerseys. I only watched three Seahawks games all year—the last three. I was happy, sure, but just that, and more for my long-suffering Seahawks friends, Mr. B and the like, than for myself.
On the way home, up Broadway again, horns honked, people shouted, we played call-and-response:
Dudes in car: Sea!
Dudes in car: Sea!
Girls in car: Woooooooo!
One of my favorite Tweets during the game was this:
Karl Rove still thinks the Broncos have a shot at this thing.— Keith Conrad (@keithrconrad) February 3, 2014
On Facebook, a friend of a friend feigned ignorance about my friend's happiness for his city, asking what happened. I responded: We legalized pot, gay marriage, and won the Super Bowl.
It's not really my celebration but it ain't bad. Parade Wednesday.
Scenes from a celebration: Capitol Hill, February 2, 2014.