Welcome to the Dynasty That Never Could Be, a Quasi-Oral History, in Six Scenes, narrated by Seth Wickersham, Greg Bishop and Robert Klemko. Come back daily to see the plot advance, as a new portion will be published every day this week.
Scene: a hermetically sealed chamber, in an undisclosed location within New York City, mid-February, 2014. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sits at an ornate table within the chamber, anxiously tapping the end of a pen on a notepad.
New England Patriots Owner Kraft: *approaches the door, and presses a series of buttons on an electronic lock affixed to the only door leading into the chamber*
Commish Goodell: *looks up*
NE Pats Owner Kraft: *as the door slides open noiselessly, steps into the room just before the door closes. The chamber seals. He takes a few measured steps towards Goodell, and extends his expensively-clad right foot forward, slightly*
Com. Goodell: *grovels on the floor, then kisses Kraft’s right shoe* Welcome, Master.
NEP Owner Kraft: Arise, my faithful servant. Yet be also dismayed! I will not countenance such a thing again!
Goodell: Beloved Master, may I have your permission to surmise that you refer to the treacherous Seattle Cheathawks?
NEPO Kraft: *sneering* Of course! To what else could I possibly refer? No, it cannot stand.
C. GDL: *groveling again* Good Master, please accept these, my humblest of apologies. I was assured that the tallness and purity of Peyton Manning would be enough to thwart their upstart ways.
NEPOKrat: *aside, as if to himself, posturingly* The gall of it will not be endured. I say again: it cannot stand.
NEPOKrat: NEVERTHELESS. As much as it pains me, we must move on. For the tallness and purity of Tom Brady is even greater than that of Peyton Manning! And yet, we must also be cautious. Yes, exercising caution is key. Those infernal players, with all of their raw speed and power, must not be permitted to gain repute as the future of prOfeSsIonAl fOoTbalL. Damn them, especially their pathetic so-called Legionnaires of Boom. More like Legionnaires of *pauses for some time, then with eyes alit* Loom!!!
CGD: *laughs hoarsely*
NEPOKrat: *with sudden and unexpected intensity* But do not let it be said that I am a Racist! I employ many col-, uh, African-American football players —
GD: — Of course, master —
NEPOKrat: — like, uh, that tailback, and, um, the one with the braided hair, and, um, uh …
G: No one could conceivably suggest such a thing, master.
NEPOKrat: You distract me, knave! I was saying. The Sea-Devils and their Legion of Whomever They Are must be stopped. We cannot acquiesce to an Entertainment in which they are heralded as talents, or given accolades for Football Intelligence, or esteemed for their hunger and prowess and Majesty and reckless abandon. No sir, we cannot have it, not at all. We must discover a Narrative by which to deny them the name of dynasty.
g: Fear not, master! You may place your faith in me. I have a plan to deal with these uncouth savages, a way to silence their cries for glory. You may trust that I and I alone will deliver to you the tallest and purest of victories.
NEPOKrat: These words please me, Appointee. Speak more.
g: Even while those cheating cheaters cheat on every possible occasion, they still must sometimes bow before the consequences of their illegalities. They must accept the penalties laid out by the rules of the game. So we have but to change the rules…
NEPOKrat: *with a growing smile of smugness, eyes shining with a sinister fire, whispering at first, he climbs atop the table, banging it with both hands, and his voice crescendoes into a scream* yes, Yes, YES, YES!!…
It’s a passing game now, chumps. But the question must always be: why?
If you take a gander through the NFL Ops page, you might come across a curious writing bearing an innocuous title — “The Evolution of the NFL Rules.” That history, meandering but benign, dictates that “the impetus for a rules change can come from almost anywhere.” Ominously, however, it begins with the example: “controversies over plays or players,” and what were the Seahawks if not controversial?
If you’re here on this site, you likely need no repetition of the angry and prophetic screams that heralded the ascent of Seattle’s players to the pinnacle of the League*. Beloved by a few, hated by the rest, their ascent knew no middle ground, no safe zone to thwart their talent for feasting on the ruined remains of those who tried to keep them from claiming the ball, which can neither be overstated nor sufficiently described. Go beyond the intangibles, beyond those ineffable talents, and see, know, how they redefined what it means to play defense in a new era, an alchemy of speed and physicality that was actually frightening.
* Four-time Consecutive DVOA champions, obviously.
And lo, just so was it an era whose terror thrashed within the confines of wonderment. What might the game become if those legendary players ascended to the inviolate but murky heights of Football Esteem, a landscape as mutable as wind and shadow, but once defined rigid and unyielding, the most rightful of Orders, an unbreakable geology of what the world ought to be?
Their brotherhood instructed them in superation, an iconoclastic revelry that delighted in breaking down every barrier, every obstacle claiming No as a sufficient reason for them not to become what they sought. The raging of the conflict between what is and what will be is eternal, and there is a cyclical geometry rooted deep into the laws of football that whispers, inviting its contestants to the warm comforts of the former, the bigger side, a fortified shrine in which the right people are valued, rewarded with contracts and sponsorships and commentariats in the thereafter. But the Seahawks did not show up to play that tired game, and the willing fury with which they adorned themselves in the torn cowl of the underdog, planted their banner along with the miscreants of the other side, was stellar, a tearing asunder of all the game’s teleologies. They did not declare war on the status quo so much as arrest every effort to maintain it.
If we know anything about this game, we know that it punishes intransigence. Those who would tamper with its dogma must be cast out, made to be reviled even as they are banished from every laboratory and temple of acclaim. What could have been expected, otherwise, when a Quarterback-Industrial Complex — the embodiment of a vision of the game in which gunslingers served both as impassioned heroes as well as calm and collected generals, storied thieves of victory whose greatness was cast against a muted and faint background of ensemble players, largely interchangeable — arose with a different notion in mind?
This, then, is the story of how the Seahawks almost ruined football, and how football thus ruined the Seahawks.