Put all of the Super Bowl storylines in a hat, and you’re guaranteed to choose a great one. No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense. Youthful wizardry of Russell Wilson vs. legendary machine of Peyton Manning. Champ Bailey vs. Richard Sherman — old school vs. new school of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks.
For me, though, it’s a bit more personal. Sunday’s game matches my past against my future. My boyhood team stacks up against the legion that has reeled me in.
Growing up in Boise, Idaho, an entire state void of professional sports, there was a clear divide during the NFL season. It was either Seahawks or Broncos — the only two professional football teams within a day’s drive of the city.
I was a proud member of the Broncos’ camp. A lot of that probably had to do with the boxes of hand-me-down Broncos garb from my older cousins who lived in the Denver area. But the Broncos of the late 1990s were awesome to watch — superhero John Elway leading the way to back-to-back Super Bowl wins alongside stars like Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe and Ed McCaffrey.
The last time the Broncos were in the Super Bowl, I wore a Broncos helmet and a tattered Broncos sweatshirt. I paraded through the halls of my church as confetti fell on Elway. Fifteen years later, all of that has been replaced by a simple flag with “12” on it.
When I moved to Seattle three years ago, I wasn’t planning on becoming part of the 12th Man. There wasn’t much excitement around the team. I went to one game, but honestly that was more to see Michael Vick in person than to watch the home team. There wasn’t a single Seahawk that I was particularly excited to see. Seattle won the game, but they had yet to win me over.
While the Seahawks dwelled on another 7-9 season, I was rooting for the Broncos and Tim Tebow’s miracle run in the playoffs. One year later, everything had changed.
Pete Carroll’s energy became tangible in the city. The emergence of Sherman-headlined “Legion of Boom,” the most terrifying secondary in the league. Beast Mode was even more beast-y. A brilliant draft scheme led to the development of young players. Then of course there is Mr. Russell Wilson, who may as well be the mayor of the Emerald City.
Last January, I found myself becoming more attached to the team that fell in the divisional round of the playoffs. I watched the final game of the season in a crowded dorm room full of Seattle pride. This January, I am completely in 12th Man mode.
I am careful to avoid the label as a bandwagon fan — I can’t quite group myself with the locals who have supported the team for a lifetime. However, it has been impossible to not be swept away in the city’s hysteria.
Seattle is desperate for a championship. There hasn’t been one since the Sonics took home the trophy in 1979.
I am desperate for a championship. My favorite teams — Mariners, Boise State, Sounders FC and now Seahawks — have never been champions in their respective leagues. Ever.
Even though there is Broncos stuff all over my bedroom at home, there isn’t any in my heart. I have yet to drink coffee, wear flannel or listen to grunge, but Seattle has slowly begun to convert me with its football team. Seattle is my city, Sherman is my hero and the Seahawks are my team.
Childhood Danny, cover your ears…