Shout it loud: The Seattle Seahawks rule after Super Bowl victory
Super Bowl victory over the Broncos brightens up a cold, wet winter in Seattle and the whole of the Pacific Northwest
Less than an hour's drive south of Seattle, Washington, is a small school called Pacific Lutheran University. On that campus you can find the studios of KPLU, a National Public Radio (NPR) station that also has a 24-hour jazz feed.
Almost since the inception of the internet that station has been streaming its melodic and informative vibes across the Pacific, where it has become the daily background sound of my life. My personal debt to KPLU is enormous and a large reason why I found myself pulling for the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in a game where I otherwise had no rooting allegiance.
There is something quite compelling and endearing about NPR news people and jazz DJs talking Super Bowl smack. "That was Killer Joe by Kenny Burrell and it goes out to all our friends in Denver who will soon find out about the Seahawks' killer defence. Rolling forward, Stan Getz takes us to a Warm Valley."
Nary a hint of malice and all of it delivered in dulcet, measured tones, it's benign smack talk and for me it has come to embody the level of civilised discourse prevalent in the Seattle area. Seattle has never struck me as an aggressive, in-your-face place. The last time I visited was a couple of Januarys ago and in the Pacific Northwest January has all the charm of an English winter: damp and damper. February's not much better.
It's hard to talk smack when you spend most of your time under an umbrella and the sporting smack also seemed largely muted because Seattle's teams have traditionally been insignificant on the national stage. Baseball's Mariners have never been good for any extended spell and while the Supersonics did have an exciting run in the '90s and even won an NBA title in 1979, the league was shamelessly complicit in allowing the team to move to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Which brings us to the local American football team. The Seahawks were founded in 1976 and debuted with uniforms featuring a docile royal blue and forest green osprey's head based on Northwestern tribal art. For their first 24 years they played in the joyless confines of the Kingdome, an indoor stadium once described by a city official as "a concrete carbuncle on the backside of Seattle" and whose most memorable moment came the day it was imploded in 2000. It was a public execution greeted with great enthusiasm and it seemed like something changed that day in the psyche of Seattle football fans. They were liberated now and eager to embrace the elements of an outdoor stadium. Cold and wet? It's called football weather and not only can we handle it, we will own it as well. The new stadium was a sprawling edifice featuring panoramic views of the city skyline framed by iconic Mt Rainier in the distance. It became a jewel in the crown for the capital of the Pacific Northwest and seemed to liberate and inspire not only the team but the fans that filled it as well.
Today, the Seahawks' swelling legion of supporters proudly fly the 12th Man flag, their official badge of delirium. The roar generated in that stadium is the loudest recorded sound of any crowd at any sporting event. It is an awe-inspiring spectacle and an intimidating cauldron of commotion for any visiting team and when the Seahawks secured the best record in the NFL this year it meant that they would be at home for all of their play-off games, save the Super Bowl. Under the tutelage of coach Pete Carroll, this current Seahawks team has become known for its bone-jarring and ferociously swift brand of defence. I have never seen a defence this good, this mean and this fast. Ever.
The NFC championship game between the Seahawks and their divisional rivals the San Francisco 49ers was for all intents and purposes the real Super Bowl. The brutal intensity and athletic artistry in the game was unrivalled. When the Seahawks beat the Niners, a Super Bowl win two weeks later was a fait accompli despite the fact that they would be facing legendary quarterback Peyton Manning and the most prolific scoring offence in NFL history. A 43-8 demolition of the Broncos in last week's Super Bowl merely confirmed the obvious: the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL. The kingdom of the Northwest finally has a crown and while the blissful, soothing sounds of KPLU still fill my life on a daily basis, things have got very loud around Seattle. It's a championship roar and it's long overdue.