03 February 2014

I grew up watching John Elway lead the likes of Bobby Humphrey, Steve Atwater, Karl Mecklenburg, and others to three Super Bowls in the 80’s. They lost all three – devastatingly.

The Denver Broncos were as good as you can get without being the best. So I became conditioned, even at a young age, to cheer for a team – to believe – with thick skin and strong resolve. Whether winning or losing, my team was my team.

To me, the Seahawks were always a non-issue. Back then they were in the same division as the Broncos, in the AFC West. But unlike the Raiders or Chargers, I actually liked the team from Seattle. I had family there, and liked the team colors. I also always found myself rooting for the Seahawks whenever there was another divisional game televised.

In 1998, after moving to Seattle, I watched from a distance as Elway – now with Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffery, etc. – finally brought the Lombardi Trophy home to Denver. Apparently it took me leaving the state for the Broncos to find their way. If it wasn’t salt in the wound it was fly in the ointment.

Elway went on to retire a year later, after repeating a Championship season with another win in Super Bowl 33. Fly, ointment; normal. Go Broncos.

Then, in 2002, everything changed. The Seahawks switched conferences, and became an NFC team. That was the year I officially became a Seahawks fan. It was an easy fit, to put my learned and practiced win-or-lose support behind the local team. They hadn’t been contenders for years – if ever.

It wasn’t until the 2005 season when the Hawks made a valiant Super Bowl run that my fandom reached any sort of passionate level. They lost. Of course. And it would be a couple of years until Seattle made any impact beyond early December. But that didn’t matter. I was a die-hard; a fan-no-matter. Content, and even happy, with cheering on a losing team.

Then, slowly, things changed. John Elway returned… Then Pete Carroll was hired… Then Tim Tebow… Then Peyton Manning… Then Russell Wilson… Then this year.

Before the season started this year I told my dad that the Seahawks were going to go all the way – that they had something special. We debated whether or not Peyton could lead Denver the whole way, too. “Wouldn’t it be crazy? Could you imagine a Broncos/Seahawks Super Bowl?”

I’ve been called “conflicted”, “confused”, and “split-brained”. I love two NFL teams. But how is that possible? Don’t you have to choose one or the other? Maybe.

Or maybe I just have the capacity to be passionate about more than one. Maybe, like a parent with more than one child, it’s impossible for me to love one more than the other.

Tonight as I watched the Seahawks trounce the Broncos in Super Bowl 48, I wasn’t choosing to love one team over another. I was watching as a crazed and committed member of the 12th Man, and a dyed-in-the-wool Broncos fan. Don’t ask me to explain it.

Before the game, I sent this text to a buddy of mine: “Love my Broncos, but they’re about to run into the Hawks and get it handed to them. Just like preseason”

And that’s what happened. I watched the whole game standing up in my living room – mostly alone. I clapped, cheered, jumped, and screamed … By myself. Alone.

Whatever feeling of loss, disappointment, or frustration I may have had with the Broncos getting their butts kicked was completely overshadowed by the Seahawks finally, and definitively, earning their place in history.

So call me confused, or conflicted, or whatever. Just, whatever you do, don’t you dare call me a fair-weather fan.

I’m a 12. And I’m United in Orange. If I have a problem it’s not that I love two teams, it’s that I have no idea how to be a fan of a winning team.