Thank me for Seattle's Great Sports Revival coming in 2013
Warren Mainard attended King's High School in Shoreline and played tennis for Cascade High School in Everett. He attended every home game during the Washington Huskies' 1991 co-national championship season, including the Rose Bowl victory. He recently returned to the Seattle area after 20 years in the South to serve as the lead pastor of Essential Church in Bellevue.
I was born in Edmonds and grew up to be a passionate Seattle sports fan before my family moved to Florida in 1992.
Those were the days in Seattle sports while I was growing up here. The Dawgfather and Steve Emtman for the Washington Huskies. Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez for the Mariners. Downtown Fred Brown and Jack Sikma for the Sonics.
Now that I'm back in town, having returned after 20 years, I'm going to make a crazy, bold prediction: There is going to be a big revival in Seattle sports.
It has already started, in fact. And I'll take some of the credit. But more on that later.
Let's go back to the start of the golden era of Seattle sports. In 1975, the year I was born, the Washington Huskies hired a new coach named Don James, who eventually became the Dawgfather, and started a quarterback who shares my first name. Warren Moon, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer would complete a 78-yard touchdown on a tipped pass to Spider Gaines to win the Apple Cup, 28-27. Coincidence?
In the time I lived in Seattle, the Huskies played in 13 bowl games (in an era when getting to a bowl game meant something) and would be named co-national champions. In 1975, a new NFL expansion team was named the Seahawks, and they would play their first season in 1976. The Sonics, under legendary player-coach Bill Russell, would begin building toward an eight-year stretch that would bring an NBA championship in 1979. As a toddler, the Mariners played their first game in the newly constructed Kingdome, giving the city the Major League Baseball team it had been craving since the departure of the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee.
When I moved away, Seattle was in one of its greatest, most star-studded and exciting periods of this city's sports achievement. The Mariners were blooming with a cadre of talented players led by Randy Johnson, Martinez, Harold Reynolds, Jay Buhner and, of course, the greatest player in Mariners history, Griffey. The Seahawks were struggling, but had just drafted the indomitable Cortez Kennedy, a future Hall of Famer. The SuperSonics featured two of the NBA's most exciting players in Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.
Finally, the Washington Huskies had just shared a national championship under the leadership of James and players like Emtman, Mario Bailey and stellar freshman Napoleon Kaufman. I was fortunate enough to attend the Rose Bowl, where the Huskies defeated Michigan and Bailey struck the Heisman pose in front of 103,000 people and Desmond Howard.
Seattle sports were flying high - and I was flying out.
My family and I moved to Palm Harbor, Fla., a few months after the 1992 Rose Bowl. The next season I discovered with the rest of the country that Billy Joe Hobert had received a questionable loan that led to an NCAA investigation and the eventual resignation of James. While the Huskies took a hit, in 1994 my Dad and I drove to Miami to watch the Washington Huskies defeat the Miami Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl, ending Miami's historic 58-game home win streak. That Miami team featured Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, and a future pro wrestler and actor named Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
From then on, however, the Washington Huskies have had only glimpses of success.
In the time that I was away from Seattle, the Huskies became a conference doormat, the Mariners gave away all of their best talent, the Seahawks were robbed of a Super Bowl, and the Sonics and superstar Kevin Durant were shipped to Oklahoma City and repackaged as the Thunder, becoming one of the most exciting teams in the NBA.
It has been a tough decade to be a Seattle sports fan. But I believe 2013 will be the year that Seattle sports return to a place of national prominence and glory.
I moved back to Seattle just a few months ago. In the short time that I've been back, Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez pitched the first perfect game in franchise history, the Seahawks won their first road playoff game since 1983 under the direction of electrifying rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, and the Washington Huskies beat two top 10 teams and posted a 5-1 record at home. The Huskies' game against Stanford was my first UW game since moving back, and the first game my 7-year-old son had ever attended.
In addition to all of that, it appears that Seattle may once again be the home of an NBA team that will ultimately be renamed the SuperSonics. Heck, there is even talk about Seattle bringing in an NHL team to a new arena that has been proposed by prospective lead owner Chris Hansen.
My prediction is that 2013 will be the year that sports in Seattle officially marks its return to glory. Want some specifics? Here goes:
Mariners: Felix Hernandez will finally get enough help from the offense to make good on his record-setting contract and become the first Mariner since Jamie Moyer in 2003 to win 20 games, becoming a consensus pick for the American League Cy Young Award.
Kings/Sonics: David Stern will end his storied career as commissioner by returning the NBA to Seattle. The Sonics will begin building a nucleus for future playoff runs.
Seahawks: Russell Wilson will lead the energized Seahawks to a 13-3 record and an NFC championship, allowing the team to have the 12th Man advantage throughout the playoffs. In the Super Bowl, Wilson will lead a game-winning drive against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots with only three seconds left.
Washington: My beloved Huskies will surprise the nation by proving that their wins over Stanford and Oregon State were not a fluke. With an improved offensive line, a more balanced defense, and a clutch freshman kicker, Keith Price will become the top quarterback in the Pac-12, leading the resurgent Washington Huskies to their first Rose Bowl win since 2001.
Am I really a good-luck charm for Seattle sports? I hope so. Perhaps my presence in Seattle really has nothing to do with all of that, even though I'm more than willing to take some credit.
Regardless, I'll be sitting in the bleachers with the rest of Seattle's sports fans cheering on our teams as the Great Seattle Sports Revival of 2013 begins.
I hope you're there with me.
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