The Great (and Not-So-Great) Seattle Shit-Talkers

Quite the hubbub this week surrounding Richard Sherman and his words for Tom Brady in the immediate aftermath of the 24-23 victory over the Patriots.  I find it interesting, because whenever anyone in professional sports says ANYTHING that’s not a cliche, it will be blown up and put under the microscope for the whole country to debate.  We’re so starved for anything that’s not one opponent falling all over himself complimenting the other opponent, that something as innocuous as a little post-game trash talk is collected in a large vat and ground down into a sludgy paste by the time the 24-hour news cycle moves on to its next victim.

It seems to me people fall into one of three catagories when something like this happens:

  1. Good, I love it.  A little trash talk never hurt anybody.
  2. Just shut the hell up and play the game.
  3. Ehh, who gives a shit?

For the record, the “Ehh, who gives a shit?” catagory is ALWAYS an option, for literally any subject known to man, so really it’s redundant to even bring it up.

Between Catagory 1 and Catagory 2, you can split those up into multiple sub-catagories.  For instance, with Catagory 1 you have:

  • Your ultra-homers.  Those loudmouth louts who absolutely hate everyone who is not “their team”.  You’ll often find them at the game yelling and screaming obscenities in the general direction of anyone wearing an opposing team’s jersey.  They’re usually big-boned and consume large quantities of Budweiser before, during, and after every game.
  • People who are sick and tired of everything being shoved into a Politically Correct closet and/or just want to watch the world burn.  I find myself more in this subsect than any other.  Let’s face it, the world is just more fun when there’s a little color; am I wrong?

With Catagory 2, you have:

  • Your ultra-conservatives.  Most likely, they’re old-timers.  They’ve been watching for decades and they’re convinced “These Kids Today Are Ruining The Game”.  They conveniently forget about how, even in the 60s and 70s, there were shit-talkers in every sport.  There were show-boaters and taunters in every era.  Nevertheless, these people don’t like any color whatsoever (that may or may not be a nod to inherent racism, I’ll let you decide).  They want nothing more than for a guy to score a touchdown, hand the ball to the official, and jog silently back to their sideline.
  • People who are superstitious.  Keep talking enough shit and it’s bound to come around and bite you in the ass in some way.  Believe you me, I understand this line of thinking more than I care to admit.  I’ve seen too many guys sack Brett Favre as their team leads by double-digits, then proceed to talk a mad amount of shit, only to watch Brett Favre bring his team back and slay them in the fourth quarter.  Trash talking begets motivation.  Motivate the wrong guy on the wrong team and he might come back to rub it in your face.

There’s also the karma aspect of this whole thing.  There’s a notion that people who talk shit will ultimately “get theirs” in one way or another.  I buy that to a point, but that still doesn’t explain all the assholes in the world who ultimately succeed while simultaneously thumbing their noses at karma.  Hell, Michael Jordan is one of the biggest pricks of all time, and he only won 6 championships and ended his career as the consensus Best Basketball Player Of All Time.

“Nice Guys Finish Last” is a cliche for a reason.  And Seattle has had some of the nicest guys this country has ever seen!

I don’t have a great handle on how the bulk of Seahawks fans feel about Richard Sherman’s antics.  I feel like the younger you are, the more you love it, eat it up, and ask for seconds.  Conversely, the older you are, the more you hate it.  But, in that middle-aged area … how does Joe Seattleite feel about Richard Sherman?

I don’t feel like I’m a good representation of Joe Seattleite, because as I said before, I love what Richard Sherman did and I want him to continue doing what he does.  As such, I don’t feel like the bulk of Seattle agrees with me.  I feel like the bulk of Seattle is split between the highly superstitious, and in a sports sense, highly conservative.  The bulk of Seahawks fans – those securely on the bandwagon side of things – are more concerned with “winning the right way” over “winning at all costs”.  Hardcore fans want to win at all costs.  They’ll take hardened criminals, thugs, cheaters … anything short of pedophiles (and even then …) and as long as their team wins, they don’t give a shit.

Bandwagon fans want to root for Good Guys.  They chuckle every time they see a Mariners commercial, even if they’ve seen it five dozen times.  They want to have a good time, want to watch a good game.  And, if they were entertained for three hours, they don’t REALLY care if their team wins or loses.  Just as long as everyone had fun and no one had their feelings hurt.  For your reference, these are the same people who bring their kids to football games and get all bent out of shape if you let an errant “fuck” or “shit” escape your mouth.  I hate these people like the God damned devil.

Oddly enough, the bulk of the superstitious fans actually tend to be of the hardcore variety.  They follow their team on a daily basis, they watch all the games, they try to go to at least one football game (or a handful of baseball games) a year.  As a fan of a Seattle team, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to see fate intervene and crush the dreams of the best our city has had to offer.  The Mariners, Seahawks, and Sonics have been on the brink of championships over the past 20 years, and every time they’ve been turned away at the door.  With that kind of losing history, you can’t help but think that the gods are somehow against you.  As such, you want nothing more than to NOT rock the boat in any way.  You want your best Seattle sports teams to fly as far under the radar as humanly possible.  You don’t CARE if your team has the respect of the nation; you don’t want ESPN to even acknowledge we exist!  You hope that, maybe if no one knows how good we are, their teams will be caught by surprise and we’ll defeat them.  Or, if fans in other cities who are not directly participating in a given year’s playoffs, if they don’t hate us, maybe they’ll root for us to beat a greater of two evils!  And, with the collective good vibrations of the bulk of America behind us, that’ll be all the karma we need for something wonderful to happen!

I didn’t say it was rational.  We superstitious types, we don’t deal in the rational.

Of course, as a Seattle fan, we also don’t have a whole lot of experience in the world of Shit-Talking.  Let’s face it, there really hasn’t been all that much to talk shit ABOUT.  And, as such, there haven’t been many athletes to carry that torch for our city.  Gary Payton was probably the KING of shit-talkers.  I’m not just talking about Seattle, I’m talking about the whole WORLD!  All time!  I don’t think anyone who is bad-mouthing Richard Sherman this week would have bad-mouthed GP in his prime.  Isaiah Thomas and Nate Robinson were also primo shit-talkers for the Huskies.  I don’t think anyone would bash them either.  I dunno, maybe it’s just a basketball thing.  Maybe we grew up watching White Men Can’t Jump for the past 20 years and have decided a little shit-talking is okay as long as you’re playing with an orange ball and a hoop.

I don’t recall ANY shit-talkers for the Seattle Mariners.  I think the closest we came was when Lou Pinella made a promise back in 1995 that we would bring the ALCS back to Seattle once we had to go to Cleveland.  And look how well THAT turned out for us!

With the Seahawks, everyone remembers Jerramy Stevens before the Super Bowl.  That was an unmitigated fucking disaster!  Not only did he shit-talk the wrong team (and the wrong man in Joey Porter), but when push came to shove he backed it up by dropping more balls than I care to relive at this (or any) point in my life.

The other big shit-talking moment every Seahawks fan remembers is Matt Hasselbeck’s “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” moment.  No one holds that against him, and it would have been probably the happiest moment of my life had we actually succeeded.  Either way you slice it, Matt Hasselbeck was a grade-A shit-talker on the field, even if he was straight-laced in post-game interviews.

If you have any other good examples of Seattle sports shit-talkers, I’d be all ears.  I think Seattle needs more shit-talking.  We need to show the world we’re ready to take their best shot and we’re not afraid to shoot back.  Verbally or otherwise.

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