Expectation is defined as: "- noun-a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations", or lately in the Pacific Northwest, it is defined as "Russell Wilson is the best QB we've ever had", "The Seahawks will go 16-0" and "If the Hawks don't win it all, this season will be a bust". While nothing great ever happens without high expectations, sometimes those high expectations can cause great things to be not good enough. A conversation I have had several times in the last couple of weeks is: Can the Seahawks live up to the high expectations of the national media or even those of The 12th Man? Is this whole city setting itself up for a letdown of epic proportion? The short answers to both questions is: Yes.
The Seattle Seahawks, the 12th Man and the entire Pacific Northwest are getting the first real taste of what it's like to shoulder the load of the national spotlight and the high expectations it brings. Coach Carroll and John Schneider have built a team that is considered one of the best in the NFL; they are fast, physical, intelligent and young. They are fun, they are brash and they are EVERYWHERE. Lately, the Seahawks have been covered so much that some members of the media are starting to question if “The Seahawks are really as good as we think“. Skip Bayless, of ESPN, recently made comments that the Seahawks are "over hyped" and “will struggle to score without Percy Harvin”. I expect other reporters to become "Sports Media Hipsters" in the coming months as well because picking the trendy team is just not "cool", no matter how good that team is. While the fans and media talk or fret over how the Seahawks will handle all of the pressure, the message from the V-Mac is loud and clear: "…Nobody expects more from us, than we do". The entire franchise has that mindset. I will be shocked if the Seahawks acknowledge any pressure of national expectations, much less be affected by it.
The fans on the other hand…are a little more sensitive to the burdens of expectations. Seattle is a typical, laid back West Coast city, in spite of the higher than average caffeine levels. Around this time of year the 12th Man diehards are alone in getting geeked for the upcoming season, as the casual fans and the city at large take a "wait and see" approach. This year has the whole Pacific Northwest vibrating with anticipation. If you need any clarification simply look to last week's pre-season game. The game was sold out, as usual, but this one was different because the seats were actually filled with: rabid, screaming members of the 12th Man. Crowd noise was an issue for the Broncos…in game 2…of the pre-season. The training camp was attended in record numbers and the local sports radio stations rarely even try and talk about anything else. All of the attention and expectations are something new to this fan base and the 12th Man can't be loving the experience more than they are.
While the coverage, hype, smack talk and pride are fun, I offer the 12th Man one word of caution: Do not let it be “Super Bowl or bust“. Winning the Lombardi trophy takes strength, speed, brains and guts; all of which the 2013 Seahawks have in spades. Winning the Lombardi trophy also takes good health and a bit of luck, things which no team can count on. If this Seahawk team goes 14-2 and loses by 1 point in the NFC Championship game, would you consider the season a "bust"? If so, you are setting yourself up for a crushing let down. While losing that game would be a massive-gut wrenching-tear inducing disappointment, don’t let it spoil what a great season it was. For those who have an “all or nothing” mindset, it would. Last January I was crushed after the Hawks lost in Atlanta, I was in physical pain. Then after a couple of days, and a self-imposed media blackout, I saw the post-game interview with Russell Wilson. I believed him, I believed his teammates believed in him, and I started getting excited for 2013. The dry heaves stopped and I began to appreciate the 2012 season for what it was…one hell of a ride.
Full disclosure: I'm cautioning the 12th Man to not let high expectations ruin the fun of the season, I am not cautioning the 12th Man to not have them, I know I do. I expect that on Jan. 19, 2014 I'll be sitting in CenturyLink watching the Seattle Seahawks play for the NFC Conference Championship (vs. the Packers). Then, later that night, I'll be begging and trying to convince my wife to let me sell the furniture so we can get to New Jersey.