The Insanity of Self-Persuasion

"Training camp optimism is a Venus Flytrap for the fandom. The team looks so appealing, and the issues and problems are so easy to talk around, that you have to stick your beak in and taste the sweetness."

The Seattle Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl.

There, I said it. Now I owe my therapist $10.

Are you happy, Dr. Phil? I confronted my feelings.

It’s that time of the year again, the magical days of NFL training camp. The annual dalliance with promise and hope. Fans everywhere are caught up in a current of optimism, happily drifting down the stream of wishful thinking. After all, this is the year, right?

Why not the Seahawks? I can dare to dream. I am reminded of a Mark Twain quote: “there is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” Yeah…what he said. Of course, I readily admit I am usually snow-blind when it comes to evaluating the oncoming season.

Training camp optimism is a Venus Flytrap for the fandom. The team looks so appealing, and the issues and problems are so easy to talk around, that you have to stick your beak in and taste the sweetness. Just based on the press reports the last few weeks, Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens is the next Kellen Winslow, defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs is “Mean” Joe Greene and wide receiver Jerheme Urban is the new version of Steve Largent. I know it’s just camp, but I sense some manifest destiny here. Do you realize Urban attended tiny Trinity University in Texas? And Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander’s newborn daughter’s name? Trinity. That cannot be pure coincidence.

Anyways, back to the whole therapist issue. No, I don’t watch Dr. Phil…but I had you going, right? I did recently have the privilege of being interviewed by a psychiatrist, as part of my screening for a very demanding assignment in my “real job”, the Navy. As I sat there spilling my guts, I pondered the idea that an annual psych check-up should be mandatory for all Seahawks fans. Kind of goes together like Oreos and milk.

Don’t be afraid of the process. At one point, he showed me a picture. It was (at first glance) a Pomeranian puppy sitting on top of a red box, with a picture of a John Deere tractor hanging crooked on the wall. He asked me, “study this picture and tell me what you really see. Put it in your own words. There is more to what you can see.” I thought for about 2 seconds and said, “I see a Pomeranian puppy sitting on top of a red box, with a picture of a John Deere tractor hanging crooked on the wall. And I see Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.” That’s a clean bill of mental health right there.

I passed my screening, but deep down I know the years of being a Seahawks fan have taken a mental toll. Maybe it’s the response I get from most people when they ask me which team I follow. Invariably, they always say, “Why?” I asked my oldest son recently which team he likes, and he said, “Seahawks, just like you.” Fighting off chills and the cold sweats, imagining the pain and suffering he would have to endure, I would have rather he said, “I see dead people.” If you happen to be a die hard Seahawks fan and you don’t think you are on the edge of lunatic fringe, try video taping yourself watching a game sometime. You might go check yourself in for observation, just to be sure. The faces, the sounds, the rage…truly remarkable.

But that’s the deal when you follow the team tucked up into the Pacific Northwest, home of the franchise that stands winless in the playoffs since 1984. That’s not a typo – 1984. Perhaps you need a frame of reference with that thought? I was wearing parachute pants. No, seriously. At the risk of alienating most of my friends and loved ones, I was listening to Michael Jackson. It’s so long ago, I still carried a healthy fear of Herve Villechaize, who played Tattoo on “Fantasy Island.” For some reason, that little dude scared the heck out of me. He packed a lot of presence into that 3’11” frame. This winless streak is often referred to as a “drought” in professional sports, but for the Seahawks that soil is way past barren land. It’s turned to dust.

I left Seattle in 1982, but I have never stopped following the Seahawks. The rolling caravan of my life has taken me to several enemy territories. I lived in San Diego when the Chargers were so bad they paid you to attend the games. In Rhode Island, the heart of Patriots territory, I learned that if they ever shut down Dunkin’ Donuts, the Northeast corridor will commence civil war. I’m in Redskins territory now, and I really hate the Redskins. No, seriously.

No way would I ever move to the dark side. As the old saying goes, “you can take me out of Seattle, but you can’t take Seattle out of me.” Actually, that’s not an old saying – I just made it up. “You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish.” Hold on a minute, I need to make a quick call to the doc…

O.K., sorry - I lost it a bit. I’ve tried to cure the football obsession, you know. I traded my trusty Sunday routine of chili, beer and all day football for something new, to try and break the icy grip of living and dying with every play of every season. I knew it wasn’t going to work, and I bottomed out. When you find yourself watching a lawn dart tournament on ESPN at 2:30 in the morning, it’s time to confront reality.

I like to think of lifelong Seahawks fans as masters of endurance. But maybe it’s a horse of a different color – masochistic? I mean, how do you stay a fan of a team that loses games like the Seahawks do? The 2003 Baltimore game…the home games against St. Louis and Dallas last season. The game against the J-E-T-S in 1998, Vinny Testaverde’s phantom touchdown? Hey, it would have been a score if the end zone started on the 2-yard line. Get over it already.

Hope springs eternal. I know that because I have also been a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. It only took them a tad under 90 years between championships. Please tell me it won’t take 86 years of franchise existence until the Seahawks win the Super Bowl. I’ll be 93. Qwest Field will be called “Moon Base Alpha”. The West Coast Offense will be known as the “Western Milky Way accumulation of non-linear strategy”. Mike Holmgren, in his 64th season as head coach, will be quoted as saying, “I still think we can get this thing done.”

I just re-read that last paragraph. I’m slipping again. For the love of God, please let me get my sanity back! Only the Seahawks could create this kaleidoscope of random mind fodder.

Its better that I write about all this; it’s a textual catharsis. I need to expunge these thoughts so I keep the alter ego in check. That same alter ego that watches every game right by my side. The mean S.O.B. that laughs with a twisted glee when a Seahawks opponent gets hurt, especially if it’s a Rams player. The same one that wants to watch our defensive backs just line up and punch opposing receivers square in the Adam’s apple on every play. I’ll take the penalties, anything but watching one pass completion after another. The same alter ego that wants to see safety Ken Hamlin hit the Rams Torry Holt or Marc Bulger so hard they sit on the field sucking their thumb and asking for their binky.

(NOTE TO SELF: SCHEDULE ANOTHER PSYCH SCREENING)

Well, I gotta go. I just answered a call from a telemarketer and they asked me what kind of long distance phone service we use in the home. My answer? “Do tell me if the Rams ever stop scoring, Clarice.”

Time to find my lithium Pez dispenser. Go Seahawks.

Greg Renick is a writer for seahawkshuddle.com, and his articles are syndicated to Seahawks.NET. Feel free to contact Greg at grenick@cox.net.


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