Yesterday, the Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals 32-39, and all but doomed their playoff chances. What follows is derived from the answer to the question, “What could any nominal Seahawks fan possibly want to read about this Seahawks team?” The answer, of course, is nothing. I wrote something anyway.
The experience of watching the Seahawks right now is not something that any sane person would want to dwell on. There are no reassurances to offer at this point in the season; the postseason is a long shot, as is the notion of consistent offensive competence. I have no specific insight to give.
We’re all fans or non-fans going through the same thing in this moment. Whatever I write would be no more or less trenchant than someone in the midst of that big earthquake that’s coming to wipe Seattle off the map yelling, “THIS IS THAT EARTHQUAKE. THE BIG ONE THAT WAS COMING BUT IS NOW HERE.”
Also, a bad Seahawks season isn’t an earthquake. It is a mediocre season of professional football that frustrates more than it should because it is being played by football players theoretically capable of better-than-mediocre seasons. There is no tragedy, except for the ongoing one that the players go through. I don’t think anyone wants to read about that, but it’s hard to even wallow in defeat as a fan after a game that’s so violent, and for the second straight week has featured a player who appears to have died on the field.
There aren’t lessons to be drawn from this game about the value of overcoming adversity. Ricardo Lockette was well enough after week eight’s horrifying injury to pump up the crowd pregame, but that didn’t help Cardinals guard Mike Iupati as he was getting rolled off the field in an ambulance. Also, this Seahawks team is actually quite good at overcoming adversity. With all the talk of constantly blowing fourth-quarter leads, there’s been little talk of how well the Seahawks have dug themselves out of early holes. And yes, sure, when the Seahawks reach the top of these holes they step backwards confidently, and fall back down into said holes. But they do get out of them, ever so briefly.
What I think I’m saying is that these Seahawks go in and out of holes regularly. But they do so in a grinding painful fashion, like fumbling teenagers having sex because they know they should but don’t yet know how to derive any particular pleasure from it. There’s no thrill from getting into the hole, or escaping it, or diving back in. It’s all rote, unbeautiful. It takes forever, but not in a good way, and the inevitability of dissatisfaction ruins the whole experience.
I’m going to pass on a Russell Wilson joke at this juncture and segue aggressively into another frayed analogy:
I was reading about Billy Wilder ripping on Rainer Fassbinder for making his movies aggressively unentertaining. Wilder did not think the lives of middle-aged German men should be punctuated in their little leisure time with moments of aggressive suffering. Deriving insight out of the theoretical suffering of others is a bourgeois luxury. And yet, here we all are, a bunch of fucking proles watching football every week.
Football is suffering.
I was ignorant in the past; I had no real understanding of the scale of violence being inflicted on the players when I was kid falling in love with the game. Or maybe I did, and the players just weren’t humans to me; they were distant, on fuzzy non-HD TVs or radio broadcasts. Their suffering was effectively fictional.
And as I learned more, my team got better. The Seahawks seemed an outlier in an increasingly horrific league. That was cool, and made me feel good. They won the Super Bowl, and almost won a second, floating above the increasingly horrifying morass of football morality buoyed by yoga and a not-yet-thoroughly-horrible Macklemore.
But Macklemore is horrible now. Have you heard that new song? It’s not even a song. And watching Macklemore, all grease and smarm, hype up Wilson during the commercial breaks of a football game in which Wilson is playing for the first time in his career like the mediocre third-rounder he was touted to be by the assholes who underestimated him from the moment he stopped growing? And, worse, with the team bending on its “no abusers” policy and then losing because of a blown play by the alleged abuser in question? Unpleasant! Fassbinder-esque.
And you can’t possibly want to read this! No one watches sports so as to confront horror directly. Sports are emotional proxy battles, and this Seahawks team is taking away the cushion of proxyism.
Will I watch next week’s game? Yeah. And the one after that. And so on. Until normalcy returns. Until watching a Seahawks game feels like it used to in the era before things were great, like watching a football game. Not some special thing, but just a regular football game. Because now that I know what watching a football game really means, I will only be able to reckon with what being a Seahawks fan is and has been when watching the Seahawks is once again just like watching a football game.
Maybe that time will come this year, if the wheels fall all the way off and the hope of excellence disappears. Squinting at this team still lets me see a great football team, and that makes it hard to have any objectivity. They need to fall one way or the other quickly. Maybe they’ll mangle themselves beyond recognition this year. Or maybe next year. Or maybe they'll recover and that reckoning doesn’t come for a decade.
That reckoning will come, though. And will I keep watching? Fuck, I don’t know. Probably? I like football a lot more than I’d like to.
In the interim, hopefully the Seahawks will play the sort of football someone would want to read about. Or at least go a week without a hideous neck injury casting an existential pall over the proceedings*. That would be nice.
*If you comment on how Iupati or Lockette’s injuries aren’t a big deal because they’re out of the hospital, well, I won’t read it, because who would read the comments on an article no one would want to read?