Loyalty, at least in football terms, is not a moral choice like bravery or kindness; it is more like a wart or a hump, something you are stuck with for the rest of your life. I discovered this in January of 2003 when Hasselbeck wanted the ball and was going to score. He is remembered for dropping this line as Seattle won the overtime coin toss during the first Seahawk postseason game I had ever witnessed. (I missed the 2000 Miami game because I was stuck in an airport in San Fransisco. I don't even remember where I was going, but I remember sitting miserably at my gate listening to the cheers and groans from the guys crowded around the bar TV. The bar TV that had its back to me and would tease me with hauntingly blocked views from every surrounding angle I attempted. That TV was to Austin Powers' genitalia as I was to the immensely embarrassed and slightly amused twelve year old watching with his grandma. Every houseplant, table light, and glazed ham sat directly between me and that TV.)
Hasselbeck is also remembered for following his famous line by throwing an interception that Al Harris would return for 52 yards and a game winning touchdown. Read it: A GAME WINNING touchdown. A game winning touchdown that left me clutching a couch cushion on the living room floor. This is the first time I have actually hurt physically after a loss. This is the first time I have to catch my breath and physically recover before I can begin to filter through seventeen games worth of emotion. This is the first time I want to hurt an opposing team's fan and the first time I have to calmly ask said fan to change the subject or leave me alone for a bit. This is the first time he will comply mercifully. And, as they say, this isn't the only time.
When you are a Seattle Sports fan you know your loyalty as well as your tall vanilla chai, your organic whole food farmers market, your polar fleece, and your ninety minute commute through the rain. Marriages are nowhere near as rigid. You won't catch any real fan slipping off to St. Louis for a bit of extra-marital foreplay, and though divorce is a possibility (you can just stop watching if things get too bad), getting hitched again is out of the question. There have been many times over the last year where I have pored over the small print of my contract looking for a way out, but there isn't one. Each humiliating defeat (Buffallo, San Fran, New York, Green Bay, Tampa, Philly, Miami, Arizona, Dallas, Washington, New England) must be borne with patience. Each hair-pulling headline with fortitude and forbearance. (Lets review: The Mariners are the first team with $100mil+ payroll to lose 100 games, The Huskies lose to BYU, WSU, EVERYGAME!!!, The Mariners use a third string catcher in extra innings AS A PITCHER!!!, Holmgren coaches his last game in Seattle, The Tuba Man is murdered, and the Sonics get hijacked by an oil tycoon from Oklahoma City.) There is simply nothing that can be done about the tragic loyalty tattooed on our sleeves, and that is the realization that makes the Seattle fan squirm with frustration.
Of course I hate the fact that Seattle is losing franchises almost as fast as games. Of course I want them to score a gazillion touchdowns, hit a gazillion home runs, and play with the ferver of eleven Paytons, Largents, Edgars, and Juniors. But I know the score and it isn't going to happen, certainly not in the foreseeable future. We are still down by too much with not enough time left in the fourth quarter.
I was unable to defend my team's inadequacies all year. I could see them for myself, and I hated them. Sure we had eleven injuries at wide reciever alone. Sure we had a GM that practically begged for a losing team (signed Scott Spezio and Rich Aurillia? traded Freddy Garcia for Miguel Olivo? Carl Everett? Matt Lawton? traded Moyer?) After each feeble attempt at a pass and every misplaced pitch I would join the crowd's collective groan and brace myself for the silence that follows. It is during this silence that we add another game to our mental rolodex and throw another loss on the back end of our teams record. Our L column is now heavier than a high schoolers backpack. The sportsfan is chained to our L column and our L column is chained to Seattle, and there is no way out for any of us.