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Originally published December 31, 2013 at 3:25 PM | Page modified January 2, 2014 at 7:46 PM

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The Seahawks’ gift to the city? Ego

In a city that plays it humble and hasn’t had many sports highlights to celebrate lately, the brash, audacious Seahawks are showing how it can be done.


Times staff columnist

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The other day, I was asked an interesting question about the Seahawks. I answer lots of questions about the Seahawks these days; sometimes, it feels like I talk about them as much as I do my wife and son. This question, though, really got me thinking.

What do the Seahawks mean to the city of Seattle?

That’s what Marcie Sillman wanted to know during an interview on 94.9 KUOW’s “The Record.” It was a delightful surprise, something I had only considered in spurts during the Seahawks’ remarkable 2013 season.

They’re the sporting passion of the city, I said. The pride of the city. The first great male pro sports team — on the women’s side, the Storm won the 2010 WNBA championship in dominant fashion — since Seattle sports hit rock bottom in 2008.

Then I stumbled upon my best point.

“They’re the ego of the city,” I said.

It took me so long to get there that I couldn’t expound, but that’s why I love to write. Now I can tell you exactly what I meant.

I could’ve dubbed the Seahawks the self-esteem of the city, which would’ve been nicer, but ego is better. That’s who they are. And there’s nothing derogatory about it.

In an understated city that would rather play it humble, in a land with a history of great sports disappointment, the 2013 Seahawks are a brash, young outfit whose style fits where Seattle sports need to go.

Before they became the best team in the NFL, the Seahawks talked openly about where they were headed. Richard Sherman, their loquacious cornerback, hadn’t started five games before he was declaring that he was a star. Two years later, he’s the best in the league at his position.

Under coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have ditched a soft reputation and become the league’s baddest, toughest team. They win with personnel that conventional thinkers can’t comprehend — short quarterback, 323-pound defensive end, basketball-tall cornerbacks.

The Seahawks don’t have a complicated system. They don’t specialize in trickery. They line up and beat you because they’re better, because they want it more, because they’re relentless until every second ticks off the clock.

The average Seattle sports fan has been hurt so many times that he or she is a little gun shy. The offseason conversation centered on whether the Seahawks were setting themselves up for failure by having too much hype. Reality is, those expectations were warranted. The Seahawks are exactly the team that many envisioned. It wasn’t hype. It was foresight.

During these NFL playoffs, the Seahawks have an opportunity to change Seattle sports for the better. If this team, full of swagger and substance, can win a championship and stand atop the sports world, the woe-is-me and can’t-do attitude that often plagues the fans will diminish. If the Seahawks can poke their chests out and dance and even taunt their way to a Super Bowl, you will see a different kind of Seattle team capturing international attention.

Four years ago, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward, a Louisiana native, talked about wanting to build a culture of expecting greatness and being unapologetic about it. He took some heat for saying it, but he made a great point.

“That’s part of what’s wrong with our culture here in a positive way,” Woodward said. “We’re very humble. We’re very shy. ... We lag in braggadocio.”

During a conversation on 950 KJR-AM radio Tuesday, Jason Puckett referred to Seattle as a “city that looks down at its shoes.” Sometimes, Seattle can be too meek for its own good. We live in a sports world of unrelenting noise now. Passive-aggressive gets you nowhere. Shy doesn’t fly.

That’s not to say that Golden Tate should wave bye-bye to defenders every time he burns someone for a touchdown. But despite the controversy of Tate’s “Monday Night Football” antics in October, there’s something refreshing about the Seahawks’ audacity. During the playoffs three years ago, Marshawn Lynch turned in the Beast Quake run, perhaps the greatest highlight in Seattle sports history. That play ended with him leaping into the end zone backward and grabbing himself.

The taunt wasn’t classy, but few cared because the determination and effort required to pull off that 67-yard run was phenomenal. Lynch would be considered anti-Seattle unless you look at his heart, toughness and willpower. Then, he seems like an ideal blue-collar representative.

Yes, the Seahawks could disappoint in the playoffs. Yes, they could break your hearts like the 1994 Sonics or 2001 Mariners. Heartache and humiliation are just part of the sports experience.

But the more you watch this team, the more confidence they inspire. You can have an ego about how good the Seahawks are.

And if they happen to win it all, you’ll love that feeling of superiority.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @JerryBrewer



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