Saturday, September 29, 2012
SEATTLE — It was the noise. The eruption after the anxiety on Monday night. That did-he-or-didn’t-he moment before the official raised his hands, confirming a catch.
It was the noise. The Thursday night thunder that grew from the moment the pass play appeared as if it would work, until those joyous seconds of certainty when fans knew it was working.
It was the noise. The crescendo that spilled from the upper deck and rolled toward the field, a wall of sound that can’t be duplicated in any other walk of life.
What a wondrous week of noise it was in Seattle!
This is how a sports fan in a big city is supposed to feel. This week of wonder is the kind of lift sports can bring to a big city.
Last week Seattle, which for too long has been a forgotten place on the country’s sports map, became ESPN’s epicenter. There were no more jokes about the futility of the Mariners. No more taunts from Oklahoma City about the loss of the Sonics.
On a week like this, everything seemed possible. A prestigious bowl game for the Huskies. A playoff run for the Seahawks. And the return of the Sonics to Seattle.
This cacophonous don’t-pinch-me week started quietly enough in the stately chambers of Seattle’s City Council.
One vote alleviated almost eight months of anxiety attacks and panic for Seattle’s NBA fans. After much debate and due diligence, the Council approved an agreement with indefatigable entrepreneur Chris Hansen to build a new arena in the Sodo district.
After all of the rallies, all of the angst, all of the questions that have dogged Hansen’s proposal, a path was cleared to return a new team called by an old name, the Sonics, to Seattle.
After all of the uncertainty and all of the head-scratching obstructionism by the Seattle Mariners, the idea of an arena that could house NBA basketball, the NHL, NCAA tournament games and much more, finally felt real.
On most weeks that would have been reason enough to celebrate. But on this week, it merely was an appetizer.
That vote came before the Hail Mary, before Golden Tate’s controversial catch that unlocked the doors and returned the real NFL officials from the league-imposed lockout.
That vote was a mere prelude to Washington’s upset victory over Stanford that was highlighted by a turn-back-the-clock Husky defense and a juggling, tight-roping touchdown catch by Kasen Williams.
In the same stadium, four nights apart, two local teams came back from the dead. And both games were national showcases.
The Seahawks’ 14-12 victory over Green Bay was the Monday night game. The Huskies’ 17-13 win over Stanford was the only FBS game on the TV.
And both games made noise.
After Russell Wilson spun to his left, scanned the field, settled his feet and launched his last-gasp pass, CenturyLink Field fell quiet. The pass felt like one of those slow-motion movie scenes.
There was the Tate shove. His tug of war with Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings. The low hum of the crowd as the players fell in a pile in the end zone. And then came the crash of the sound wave roiling onto the field as the officials, in their last act in the NFL, signaled touchdown.
Touchdown? The debate raged nationally, but in Seattle, on the morning after, all that really mattered was that the Seahawks were 2-1 and they mattered again.
Every time I hear about the triviality of sports, I think about a moment like this, when the nation seems to drop everything and talk about a game. The brouhaha over this Seahawks’ victory stretched from ESPN to NPR. It was a topic from the Oval Office to The New York Times’ editorial page.
And this week in Seattle sports seemed to lift the spirits of a lot of people from a lot of different perspectives. This week sports in Seattle had meaning. And it was great fun and a great escape rehashing all of those meaningful moments.
Maybe Thursday’s Husky win over Stanford didn’t have the national juice of the Monday night game, but that victory rejuvenated Washington in the same way the win over the Packers lifted the Hawks.
It was another sign that this city might be on the rise again; that Seattle could become part of the national sports conversation the way it was with Lou Piniella’s Mariners and Mike Holmgren’s Seahawks and George Karl’s Sonics.
Last week, in that small corner of Seattle called Sodo, a state of the art arena no longer was just a concept. South of Downtown, a Seahawks’ prayer was answered and a Huskies’ season was revived.
And the sound from CenturyLink was a rumbling signal that a sports town too long down and too long quiet was making noise again.