Chronicles of Adolescence

While the offseason has many fans looking to the future, Seahawks.NET's Greg Renick offers a blast from the past - and discusses memories in which childhood and the Seahawks are deeply intertwined.

My distant Seahawk memories are just an arbitrary thought away from the here and now.  I don't have to look through an attic, dusting off a worn volume containing page after page of dusty heritage.  No need to sift through boxes in the back corner of a garage, trying to remember where I left the scrapbook.

They are as familiar to me as the lines in the palms of my hands.

"Why are you such a diehard Seahawks fan?" 

A friend of mine asked me that awhile back, and I thought it was a fair question. My time in Seattle was relatively short -- my family moved from Boston in 1977, and we left for New Jersey in 1982 -- but those years breathing the clean Northwest air are permanently etched on my mental slate.

I just close my eyes and it's 1979 again...

I am anxiously cycling through my Seahawks trading cards (Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, Sam McCullum) while Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver" streams out of my brother’s stereo speakers. 

"I've just closed my eyes again, climbed aboard the dream weaver train"

As best as I can, I line the cards up on the floor relative to the positions they play, constructing a colorful "X's and O's" diagram in the carpet.  Zorn is closest to my bended knee, while Dave Brown rests close to the speakers. 

I even put my own personal card in the line-up just to see what it looks like.  My first football team that I play on is the "Junior Seahawks", and they make up creative trading cards for all of the players. 

Soon after, my parents take me to a meet and greet with the Seahawks at a local school.  Right there in flesh and blood, my cardboard cutout icons are sitting right in front of me, permanent markers in hand.  Defensive tackle Steve Niehaus is as large as my bedroom, and carries a warm presence and quick smile.  I get safety Don Dufek's signature, then the prize acquisition, running back Sherman Smith (the first Seahawk to ever rush for 100 yards in a game).  Meeting those players leaves an indelible impression, and it catapults my impressions of them into the same thin air reserved for Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.

All is right in the world.

"Driver take away my worries of today…and leave tomorrow behind…"

I am watching my dad meticulously paint the familiar green, blue and silver team colors on my pinewood derby car for Cub Scouts.  It may not be the fastest car (despite the innovative airfoil constructed on the tail end), but it is surely the coolest in my eyes.  I notice at the race that nobody else has a car painted with the hues of their favorite football team, and that makes me really happy.

My mother offers up one of her Jell-O molds and a lot of tin foil, which somehow becomes a pretty good model of the Kingdome, adorned with my trading cards.  I will bring it to school for show and tell.  It sits on the kitchen table during the weekend, and every time I walk past it I think about playing in the real thing someday.

I always looked at the Kingdome with wanderlust in my eyes.  It could have been the Sphinx as far as I was concerned, because I viewed it as one of the "seven wonders of the world".  My world, at least.  I actually got to play a game in the Kingdome once, as my Junior Seahawks  got to play before a N.Y. Jets-Seahawks pre-season game.  There were only parents in attendance, but I conjured up the sounds of a packed Kingdome cheering us on.

The same nervous tingling I had playing on that magical turf reappeared a few years later as I watched my Seahawks take on the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1983 AFC Championship game.  If a young man's will could have been manifested into points, the Seahawks would have won that game 51-0. 

"Ooh dream weaver, I believe you can get me through the night…Ooh dream weaver, I believe we can reach the morning light…"

I miss the simplicity of yesterday’s youth, especially when contrasted with the veil of fear we live underneath in today's era of terrorism, violence and selfism.  Back then, I didn't worry about tall buildings in New York City  falling, only the NFL records I would someday shatter.  We played outside all day long, assuming the alter egos of our sports idols, instead of coiling up in front of the TV with Play Station 2.  We "kicked the can" instead of kicking some kind of addiction.

"Fly me high through the starry skies, maybe to an astral plane…cross the highways of fantasy, help me to forget today's pain"

I'm standing on a rain-soaked street in Woodinville , Washington , and its 4th down and forever.  The "Seahawks" quarterback (my brother or father) readies this crucial play.  Our golden retriever is excitably playing defense.  The light of day is fading like the naive innocence of childhood, and my fingers are numb.  I concentrate all my energy on making the catch and keeping my feet inbounds (the boundary of this particular field was the transition from pavement to gravel), all the while constraining my inertia enough to stay out of the ditch that borders the street.  The enticing aroma of my mothers delicious meal and the welcoming laughter of my two sisters awaits just behind the front door, but right now,  I just have to make this catch. 

The ball approaches me in a tight Nerf spiral, and I transform into Largent.  The flickering street lamps morph into the sweet luminescent glare of the Kingdome lights. I make that catch (and we always do in our memories, don't we?), and I swear I see the shadowy visage of Jack Patera, the first coach in the franchise’s history, standing right in front of me.

"Though the dawn may be coming soon, there still may be some time…fly me away to the bright side of the moon, and meet me on the other side…"

Some people just don't understand why grown men get so wrapped up in sports.  I do -- it's the closest we are ever going to get to the magic carpet ride of yesteryear.  We used to be proud of how fast we could sprint a 40-yard dash, now we are just happy if we can still finish it.  I'd gladly give my right hand to be able to lace up the cleats again, get out on the field and hit somebody.  The problem is - I understand I need that same hand to hold the remote that changes the channels during football season. 

I'm not a "Junior Seahawk" anymore, just a man proud that I once was. 

When I'm watching my team, it opens a gateway to the best times of my life.  We could all jump on the bandwagon and give up the gut-check existence of life as a Seahawks fanatic. But that would betray the very embodiment of adolescence, and send ripples through the lakes of our memory banks. 

Like it or not, the seams of my heart are stitched with same familiar green, blue and silver colors that my dad meticulously painted on that pinewood derby car a quarter of a century ago.  I'm not going anywhere.

Why am I such a die hard Seahawks fan?  It has nothing to do with wins and losses.  It's all about memories of a life that I wouldn't trade, even for a Super Bowl title.  Disappointing seasons come and go in the NFL, but childhood dreams do last forever.

"Ooh dream weaver, I believe you can get me through the night…ooh dream weaver, I believe we can reach the morning light"

Greg Renick is a writer for www.talkhawks.com, and his articles are syndicated to Seahawks.NET. Feel free to contact Greg at renickg@nwc.navy.mil.


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