Seattle has long sought status as a world-class city. But its sports teams have not helped the cause. Seattle's baseball, football and basketball teams have won a combined total of one championship, and that was by the NBA's now departed Sonics in 1979 (they are now the Oklahoma City Thunder). That's why the stakes are so high for the Seahawks. Beating the 49ers next Sunday means more than a single game---it means reversing the city’s history of sports failure.
The NFL has the match-up everyone wanted, and the Seattle-SF game could have the highest title game ratings ever. These are the NFL’s best two teams, and the winner is the strong favorite to win the Super Bowl.
49er fans feel destiny is on their side. After a slow start following their tough Super Bowl loss, the team has come roaring back. It looks stronger than ever heading into next week.
But there’s a fact that I think many 49er fans overlook: Seattle fans also feel destiny is on their side. They may be the only NFL fans that truly believe that their cheering (the 12th man) wills the Seahawks to victory.
We have coaches and players who don’t like each other, and a cultural struggle over which city is hip and which once was hip until it became dominated by the wealthy tech industry.
We even have two mayors looking to increase their cities minimum wage.
But there is one critical difference: the 49ers have won five Super Bowls, the Seahawks none. And San Francisco has had World Series celebrations in two of the past four years, while the Seattle Mariners have never reached the World Series since joining the league in 1977.
The only other baseball team never to even reach the World Series are the Washington Nationals, but that city did win a World Series in 1924.
San Francisco is the city of sports champions while Seattle is the city of sports teams that fall short.
If the Seahawks lose at home to the 49ers next week, Seattle will be devastated.
The stakes for the Seahawks are high. Everyone expects them to go to the Super Bowl this year. If the team gets off to a bad star on Sunday, fans will recall other bitter defeats suffered by Seattle teams over the years.
Like the seventh game of the 1978 NBA season, when Seattle lost to the Baltimore Bullets after should be Hall of Fame guard Dennis Johnson inexplicably shot 0-14 from the field.
The 1978 Sonics were said to be unbeatable at home, and the loss ended Seattle’s 22-game home winning streak.
Or will this year’s Seahawks create a new narrative for Seattle’s sports teams?
This is that rare matchup where both teams will find the season a failure if they lose. The NFL has not seen a game like this since the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry was at its peak, and it should prove memorable.
Randy Shaw is editor of Beyond Chron and a Chicago Bears fan who wishes his team had Colin Kaepernick rather than Jay Cutler.