With the bye-week upon us for the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks, I guess that leaves an extra week to ponder and speculate the high level of play we get to witness on Sundays. When they don’t take the field this weekend it will leave many without a direction or purpose so our minds may begin wander, harkening back to those other golden teams we just couldn’t live without.
I’m talking, the best sports teams Seattle has ever had. “Thee” best.
Ok, this leaves tons of room for discussion so let’s narrow down our proverbial field of play within this article. I’m not talking third tier sports such as the professional women’s soccer team the Seattle Reign, the University of Washington Huskies rowing, gymnastics or track and field. Nor the second tier monsters in the Seattle Storm, the Seattle Redhawks or even the Huskies men’s basketball team. I want to stay specific to the top dog, multi-million – sometimes billion – dollar sports teams that create friction throughout the entire city whenever they would win or lose.
Trust me without some sort of guideline I think I would have trouble staying on track with this article. It could get rather sticky with just pure opinions dominated by no sense or direction all being summed up with no real conclusion to boot. As a reader you too would have some logical questions.
So with that being said, I will pause for a quick fun historical fact that obviously has been overlooked for almost a century now. The first professional sports team in Seattle was in fact a hockey team in the PCHA known as the Seattle Metropolitans. On top of that, by beating the Montreal Canadians in 1917, the Metropolitans were the first US hockey team to ever victoriously raise the Stanley Cup. They would even make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals two more times before the collapse of the league in 1924.
Why Seattle doesn’t have an NHL team now is beyond me. Nevertheless, those types of pre-World War Two type of things aren’t going to be hashed out throughout this article either.
Considering wins and losses, division championships, conference championships and pennants some teams may start to come to mind. The forever immortalized Seattle Supersonics are the first thing that comes to my mind. They are the only major team to bring a World Championship to the city in recent history when they did it under Lenny Wilkens during the 1978-79 season with Jack Sikma, Fred Brown and Gus Williams. Then there was the entertaining and most athletic team to ever play in this city the George Karl coached teams of the mid-nineties with household names such as Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Nate McMillan, Vin Baker. That picture of Gary Payton getting in Michael Jordan’s face still emulates the pride and accomplishment that those guys displayed for our region.
Almost simultaneously in the 1990s the Seattle Mariners began to grow into their own. With a fiery skipper named Lou Piniella and a rather spry and unlikely group of youngsters led by Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Dan Wilson the team dramatically stormed back in mid-August to make the first playoff run franchise history. Watch any old reel of some of those mid-September games and you would agree, the energy in the King Dome was real and emotional. Dave Niehaus’ Hall of Fame broadcasting career can be summed up in some of the great calls he made during the 1995, 96 and 97 seasons.
Then of course the most winningest baseball team of all time can say it resides in Seattle.
In 2001 Mariners went out and won 116 games in the regular season only to be defeated in the American League Championship Series. With such unreal statistics as being an eye-popping 71 games over .500 at one point, having 8 players selected to the MLB All-Star game, which was played in Seattle, and never losing more than 9 games in a given month the whole season, that team dominated unlike any other in the sports’ history. On top of the emergence of the great Ichiro Suzuki – possibly the greatest signee in Seattle sports history - we will always remember names such as Mike Cameron, Carlos Guillen, John Olerud and Bret Boone for that unbelievable and magical season.
Those teams were some of the best and by far the most successful regular season teams the city has ever seen but nevertheless the Mariners have never won or ever played in the World Series in their history.
The Seattle Seahawks have been to the big game once but have never won it either. The 2005 Super Bowl run was one of the most epic and coveted times that still eats at the hearts and minds of many fans. With the best record the franchise has had to date, the 13-3 Hawks led by Shaun Alexander’s legs and Mike Holmgren’s headset raised the National Football Conference Championship trophy at the one time Qwest Field. It rocked this city to its core and made everyone, young and old a fan of the old birds. That generation of fans will never be afraid to call Matt Hasselbeck a good quarterback. With him under center they saw the best stretch in franchise history when they went to the playoffs 5 straight times, a huge accomplishment for a team that had only made the playoffs 5 times in its previous 30 year history.
Then there is the University of Washington Husky football team. With 97 years of existence under their belts you would expect to have seen some diabolically good teams. As of today, the Huskies are the 20th ranked program in the NCAA Football Elo School Ranking which is meant to rank the best schools of the Football Bowl Series era. Combine that with 31 bowl bids, 14 of those being to the Rose Bowl, 18 conference championships and a preseason AP Top 25 showing 28 times they are the most decorated heavy-weight in Seattle sports history. It’s hard to say where to start but the eighties and early nineties teams led by the late Don James is the closest thing to a dynasty this city has ever seen. They were in the business of winning. There was only one year from 1979 – 1992 where they didn’t make a bowl game. Not to mention three Rose Bowl appearances in a row including winning two straight. All of which made the University of Washington into a football school that was able to rally the community behind it unlike any team the Pacific Northwest before that.
Those were the glory days right? So many moments from so many different teams are pretty special. I think many people would immediately take away how all of the moments I have mentioned in Seattle sports are in the dusty old past only to be remembered with framed newspaper clippings and completely biased documentaries that are purely to inspire, educate and create nostalgia. However I feel the complete opposite reaction because in actuality we should really be looking at how special it is to have so many different sports teams to bind us. Think about that, only so many other places in the country can boast such an exciting, multi-faceted and colorful sports history. The epiphany that should be hitting you now is that Seattle was and never will be, singularly a football town, a basketball town or even a baseball or soccer town but is instead a splash and a dash of all. You would be hard pressed to find a handful of such places across the country that can say that!
But man, it’s been a while since any one of these teams has re-emerged onto the national stage hasn’t it?
Enter: this year’s Seahawks.
They are rolling unlike any team we have ever seen. Besides possibly the 1990-92 Washington Huskies it may be the most dominant team to ever step foot on any sports field. No matter the circumstances you always got a feeling they are going to win.
I think that this team embodies the best of everything Seattle has brought to the sports world yet; the supremacy of the 2001 Mariners, the athleticism of the 90s Supersonics and the dynasty potential of the Huskies. Well a smart Seattleite wouldn’t hold their breath for a gargantuan sports juggernaut like that because more often than not our fairy tale teams have deceived us but it’s worth a thought – especially when the Seahawks have this Sunday off and we are left to stew in our dens and watch other teams play. It always makes the time pass to talk Seahawk potential and it often scratches the itch of the dormant fantasy of having a world championship return to this town.
If the past can tell us anything it is that sports in this town will shift, revolve and see more ups and downs than a twelve year old on the California Screamin’ at Disney’s California Adventure. Texas has got football that you can count on year in and year out, Carolina has got basketball you can double down on every November, while in the Pacific Northwest well, right now we got the shrieking Seahawks and there is no doubt that they are well on their way to solidifying themselves as one of the best sports teams in Seattle history.