It's Seattle, so, usually, the only thing we have to look forward to in February is August. That changed this year when the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl. This town went a little nuts. The blue and green that festooned this city may be thoroughly soaked now by rain, but those colors aren't coming down. Twelfth man flags still jam into car windows and fly proudly across neighborhoods all over the region. Those outrageously-priced Championship sweatshirts we gleefully purchased mere hours after the game are still standard garb for any occasion. Seven-hundred thousand of us showed up on a Wednesday morning, just a couple of weeks ago, to celebrate/shiver in the cold and cheer wildly. Victory is a heady experience, and one we're not letting go of anytime soon.
As often happens after such a celebratory moment, details come back to you in bits and pieces. I remembered one of those bits this week, with the coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine. I remembered a moment during Malcolm Smith's post Super Bowl interview, after winning the game's MVP award. I couldn't really hear the question amidst the celebration in my living room, but he was asked something about the combine. I remember him saying, quite matter-of-fact, that he hadn't been invited. I might have dwelled on his statement more at the time if it hadn't been for that 9/11 "truther" guy. Anyway, Malcolm Smith's comment about not being invited came back to me this week, as I watched snippets of NFL hopefuls getting weighed, measured and vetted prior to the official draft in a couple of months.
As I was trolling around for reaction to Smith's statement, I found a terrific article by Sports Illustrated's Peter King called, "A Combine Reality Check." King interviewed Smith, who talked about his college career (at USC) ending and assuming he was going to be invited to the combine. He waited for the call but it didn't come. He called, only to find out he didn't make the list. He said he was "too shocked to even ask why."
It's shocking when you win and shocking when you lose. The shock of a loss, though, can leave a bitter aftertaste that lingers much longer than the sweet savor of victory. How many of us remember with complete clarity not being chosen for that team or that group, or that play or that job, or that relationship? We were so sure we were going to get it, that we were so right for whatever it was, only to find out the decision was never up to us. We weren't chosen. We weren't picked. We weren't invited. I have sat in my office and listened to people express feelings of profound sorrow decades after such a loss. For some, the loss created a seismic shock that derailed their plans and hopes and dreams for the future. After not being chosen, they removed themselves from the game.
Not Malcolm Smith. He wasn't invited to the 2011 combine but he stayed in the game. He ended up chosen in the seventh round by the Seahawks, by someone who did believe in him, Pete Carroll, who had recruited him at USC. Smith's not the only player Carroll, and general manager, John Schneider, took a risk on. Being a group of late-round, overlooked players has become sort of a badge of honor for this year's Super Bowl Champions.
Football, granted, is just a game, but it's a big game on a national stage, and sometimes, what happens on the field can become a life lesson for the rest of us. So, I hope the rest of the country, and especially Denver, will understand it if we hang on to our victory just a little bit longer. This time, it wasn't someone else deciding whether or not we could play; this time, this team made that decision themselves, stayed in the game and won.