Brash Seahawks should be applauded for resiliency
Team Bravado is back in the Super Bowl, with a back story more fascinating than what they offered a year ago, but the national hype is again an oversimplification.
If you don’t follow the Seahawks regularly, it’s easy to become consumed with their audacity. They’re the angriest, brashest, craziest team around, and if that annoys you, sorry, they’re only going to turn up the volume. Their swaggering attitude can obstruct the traits that really make this team so incredible.
The Seahawks are just being young and defiant. Because they’re full of stars who took nontraditional routes to success, they love to challenge all customs, including the notion a champion must be regal and above all the barking and stomping. They’re also clever enough to exaggerate how they’re perceived, so that you ignore the many layers that make them so dynamic.
Team Bravado is back in the Super Bowl, with a back story more fascinating than what they offered a year ago, but the national hype is again an oversimplification, painting a picture of cocky kids, which is merely illuminating the lowest common denominator of this team.
Doug Baldwin’s fiery postgame rant to the media outside of the locker room is now a bigger story than Jermaine Kearse’s redemption, or Russell Wilson’s postgame tears, or Richard Sherman’s one-armed finish. Yes, the Seahawks are a young and mouthy team that has opposing fans waiting for the day they’ll eat their words. But they’re also a selfless group that has matured tremendously through this taxing season, and their resiliency just might be an unrivaled quality.
The Seahawks are barking and stomping back to the Super Bowl.
But they’re also raising a single arm to the heavens, because the other was injured in competition.
And they’re crying, out of amazement for what they accomplished in the 28-22 comeback victory Sunday over Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.
And they’re grateful, humbled by the difficulty of this journey and fully aware of how special it is to play in back-to-back Super Bowls.
You saw defensive end Michael Bennett riding happily around CenturyLink Field on a police bicycle. But when his family joined him on the field afterward, he also wept. Later, he explained that he lost a close friend — Mark Alexander from Houston — to cancer recently. During the game, Bennett kept asking his late friend for help.
“I started praying, through him, saying, ‘If you’re in heaven, make something happen, please,’ ” Bennett said. “Then something would happen, and I’d be like, ‘OK, if you’re really in heaven, do something else, please.’ I think I’m convinced now that he’s up there.”
Beyond the bravado, that’s the Seahawks team I have come to appreciate. I can tolerate the bluster because I know where it comes from, and I respect what players such as Baldwin, who has gone from being undrafted to the Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver, have overcome. It takes a bit of rebellion to make it in this league when you enter as an afterthought. If Baldwin ever loses that edge, he won’t be the same player.
But it’s not just a contrarian spirit that makes the Seahawks thrive. Somehow, coach Pete Carroll has taken all of these big personalities and turned them into a remarkable example of team. You took it for granted until the Percy Harvin drama surfaced and the signs of fracturing became evident. But since the now-famous November meeting that turned around the season, the Seahawks have eschewed personal agendas and the pressure of being the reigning Super Bowl champion. They’ve been more united than ever. There’s no way they could’ve overcome a 16-point deficit Sunday — a 12-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining — without playing together.
“It was such an extraordinary thing to witness these guys hanging,” Carroll said of the Seahawks’ perseverance Sunday. “What happened in the middle of the year was they found the connection of what team is all about. And that’s supporting the guys around you, and they found that and embraced it. We have ridden that thought all the way to this point, even to the point where we gather them up going into OT, and we talk to them about how powerful that belief is and what it can allow you to accomplish.”
How powerful is that belief? It helped safety Earl Thomas play through a separated shoulder for most of the game. It made Sherman tuck his injured left arm close to his body and play with only the use of his right arm in the fourth quarter. Neither star player was thinking about his long-term contract and the millions he still stood to make. The team needed them out there.
“Both of those guys were in dire straits of ‘Could they play?’ ” Carroll said. “They played their hearts out. Their courage and toughness and standing up for who they are ... it was so impressive, it really was. There are a lot of guys who do that. It was just really symbolic.”
It was symbolic of a young, brash team — “a bunch of knuckleheads,” Carroll once called them — that wins with much more than talent and ego.
The Seahawks are the kind of team that will pull off an improbable comeback and then scream and yell at you for not believing in them.
They’re also the kind of team that would have a player honor a deceased friend in the minutes following a miraculous triumph.
They’re complex knuckleheads, for sure. They should be known for more than just chutzpah.
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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