I don't use this space to write about football very often - mostly because I don't know very much about football, and this is a baseball blog. But I just couldn't let this go by unaddressed.
In what became something of a national story, I believe it was the Seattle Times that polled Seahawks fans following a Week 16 loss to Tampa Bay. The poll concerned the final game of the regular season, asking whether fans wanted to see the 6-9 Seahawks defeat the 7-8 Rams and make the playoffs, or if they wanted to see the Seahawks lose to the Rams and lock up a higher draft pick. The majority of respondents said they wanted the Seahawks to lose.
On some level, it's understandable. The Seahawks need a lot of help and stand precious little chance of making any noise in the playoffs, having finished with more losses than wins and having been outscored by 97 points. A win against the Rams basically means the Seahawks fall in the draft for the right to probably get blown out next Saturday.
But on the other hand, the question was all about weighting present versus future rewards, and since the Seahawks wound up winning last night, the present reward is that we all get to cheer for arguably the worst playoff team in the history of sports.
Sure, you could argue that's kind of embarrassing, since five teams with better records than the Seahawks are staying home. NFL.com is certainly embarrassed, with Robert pulling the following screenshot from this article:
But I think it's a uniquely Seattle thing to feel some degree of shame about all of our teams, and I'd much rather be ashamed of a team that's in the playoffs than a team that isn't.
Is it fair? Of course it isn't fair. The Giants and Buccaneers both finished 10-6, and neither of them will advance. That's absurd. But then, was it fair when the 93-69 Mariners stayed home in 2003 while the 90-72 Twins, 91-71 Marlins, and 88-74 Cubs went on? Was it fair when the 83-78 Cardinals advanced in 2006 while five teams with better records missed out? Was it fair when an excellent Seahawks team lost the Super Bowl to the Steelers in the way that they did? Sports aren't fair. They can be, but they often aren't, and that's something we've always had to live with. It just so happens that this most recent lack of fairness gave Seattle a break.
And what a break it is. We've essentially been handed a free lottery ticket. The Seahawks are going to be significant underdogs in any game they play, and they deserve that, because they are bad. But their odds aren't zero. There does exist some mathematical chance that the Seahawks - these Seahawks - end up winning the Super Bowl. These Seahawks could end up winning the Super Bowl by following the only course of events that would have them finish with an above-.500 record.
That's outstanding, and what's more is that there isn't any downside. Part of what made the first Super Bowl so disappointing - and any other Seattle trip to the playoffs, really - is that there were expectations. There was legitimate hope that our team could make some noise. There isn't any of that hope this time around, and so there won't be any of the corresponding stress. If the Seahawks by some miracle beat the Saints next weekend, everyone will be delighted. But if they lose, of course they lost, because they're the worst playoff team ever. The worst playoff team ever ought to lose its first game by 20 points.
It's all-upside fandom, and that's just incredibly rare. Yeah, we're all kind of ashamed that the Seahawks are still alive, and we should be. They've lost nine games, and not one of them by fewer than 15 points. They don't have a quarterback, and instead have two quarterbacks. They are not a good football team. But sports aren't science, and sports aren't law. Sports are entertainment, and the fact that the Seahawks are going to the playoffs is just uproariously hilarious. Some meaningful wins cause me to cheer or otherwise feel pride. Last night's made me laugh for five minutes.
The 7-9 Seattle Seahawks are going to the playoffs, and they're set to be a risk-free bandwagon for anyone who isn't already aboard. There are a million things wrong with sports, and the NFL in particular. That the Seahawks are going to the playoffs is one of them, and that's exactly what makes this all so delicious.
Believe it or not, my favorite teams have made the playoffs a bunch of times, and I've gone into every single one of their games feeling indescribably nervous. Not this time. Not Saturday. I'm looking forward to Saturday as a day-long joke.