I’m Having A Hard Time Getting Excited For Football Right Now

This SHOULD be the perfect scenario to get me super pumped for football. We had another down college basketball season; hockey was fun, but in a Just Glad To Be There sort of way when it came to a middling playoff run; and the Mariners are obviously in the midst of yet another in a long line of disappointing seasons (save one) over the last couple decades.

When it’s late-July and baseball is going nowhere, downtrodden Seattle sports fans turn their sights to the impending football season, and all the possibilities therein. But, not me.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe the Mariners play a part in that, in how far below expectations they’ve landed, sucking all of our collective wills to live. There’s a case to be made to have high expectations for both the Seahawks and Huskies. The Seahawks are coming off of an unlikely playoff appearance, they’re coming off of back-to-back potentially-elite draft classes, the dark cloud of the previous era of Seahawks football came to a close with Russell Wilson playing in Denver now. Vibes are high! Now, take the Huskies; they’re coming off of an unlikely bowl game victory, and an even unlikelier double digit-win season. That came on the heels of the team totally falling apart, and the death knell of the Chris Petersen-to-Jimmy Lake Era that had once achieved soaring heights. With most of our important players returning, vibes are even higher on Montlake!

It’s not hard to remember when our expectations were as mammoth; see: the 2023 Mariners.

Now remember that we’re Seattle sports fans, and Seattle is Sports Hell. It’s not Sports Hell because all our teams are miserable all the damn time. It’s so much more than that! We’re in Sports Hell because of this very scenaro. Because our teams do – occasionally – see expectations raised. And THAT’S when our teams choose to fall on their fucking faces.

We have decades upon decades full of experience in this arena. And exactly three championships for our efforts, between the Supersonics, Seahawks, Mariners, and Husky basketball & football teams. In my 42 years of existence – since I’ve been rooting for these respective teams – I’ve only gotten to witness the one (Super Bowl XLVIII), since I wasn’t a Husky fan in the early 90’s. That’s a lotta heartbreak.

I’ve seen a lot of good-not-great teams in my lifetime. The Sonics of the entire 1990’s, the Mariners of the mid 90’s, the turn-of-the-century Mariners (who were a very different beast entirely), the Holmgren Era Seahawks, the Romar Era Huskies, the Legion Of Boom, the Chris Peterson Huskies, the Post-LOB Seahawks, and this current era of Mariners baseball. There’s a lot of great memories sprinkled throughout, but one main throughline: they all fell short of ultimate glory, save one.

I’ve discussed this topic quite a bit on my blog throughout the years. It’s all a matter of perspective. If I was able to just enjoy the journey, take these teams for what they are, and accept the fact that we can’t always win it all, then I’m sure I’d be a lot happier. But, how do you enjoy the 2023 Mariners, when you know this team is underachieving, and we all expected them to be better than they are? This team was supposed to win 90+ games in the regular season and really make a dent in the playoffs; instead, they’re struggling to get to 81 wins, and will almost certainly not reach the post-season. And, as such, now we go into 2024 with more questions than answers. We go into 2024 with more holes than we thought we’d have, and an apparent lack of opportunities and willingness to do what it takes to fill those holes.

I guess the answer to that question is: don’t have expectations going in. If I had zero expectations for the 2023 Mariners, then maybe I could appreciate a .500 team that’s still kinda/sorta in it, and hold out hope that they’ll figure something out in the next two months to eke their way into the playoffs.

But, that’s not how I’m wired. That’s how a fairweather fan thinks, or a complete non-fan. My fiancé could do that, because she isn’t saddled with the burden of following these teams, and has zero interest in them outside of the fact that I have interest, and she enjoys my company enough to care about what I care about.

I can’t go into this football season with no expectations. I see the 2023 Seahawks and I see a team on the rise. I see a lot of talented youths with potential for greatness. I see a division and an NFC that’s up for grabs, and I see us as a potential dark horse.

Then, I see the 2023 Huskies and I see a team that’s there! That’s a legitimate contender for the Pac-12 crown, and if they play their cards right, maybe even a berth in the college football playoffs.

In total, I see two football teams where you don’t necessarily have to squint very hard to see them going pretty far. Just as I saw a certain Mariners team, in the very same light.

So, how could my favorite football teams Mariners things up this season?

Well, the Huskies might just be God-awful on defense, particularly in the secondary and linebacker units. They might need to score a ton on offense every single week, which means they’d have to be damn near perfect on an efficiency standpoint. What if Michael Penix doesn’t even remotely resemble a Heisman Trophy candidate? What if the O-Line doesn’t hold up? What if we get bitten by the injury bug or bad fumble luck? What if we simply lose two fucking conference games and it knocks us out of the conference race entirely? It doesn’t take a whole helluva lot to ruin a college football team with high expectations. Two Pac-12 defeats, that’d do it. We always lose at least one dumb bullshit game against some fucking annoyingly shitty Arizona or Bay Area school with an 8pm start time. Do that, and lose to a legitimately good team, and there you have it: season ruined.

It’s a lot easier to see how the Seahawks could fuck up.

The Seahawks might just be God-awful on defense, particularly in the D-Line and linebacker units. There’s also a decent chance Geno Smith doesn’t survive the entire 17-game season, meaning we’ll have to endure Drew Lock in games that count. But, even if Geno manages to stay healthy, is he really the guy who’s going to lead us to a division title and a deep playoff run? Behind an extremely inexperienced O-Line? The 49ers are still pretty fucking good, even with their injury question marks at quarterback. The Eagles should still make some noise. The rest of the NFC East is nothing to sneeze at, and the Vikings figure to win a lot of games again. Then, you have to factor in how the Seahawks continually get off to slow starts to the regular season under Pete Carroll. It’s a lot to overcome.

I’ll admit, my expectations for the Seahawks aren’t nearly as high as they are for the Huskies. But, I can already feel the homer in me yearning to believe big. He knows that if we can keep this team mostly healthy, they’ll really surprise the rest of the league! Homer Steven is a simpleton like that. He’ll believe anything! So, I’m bound to be disappointed when the Seahawks are just another wild card team losing in the first round again. Or, God forbid, another Seahawks team that failed to make the playoffs entirely (but also wasn’t bad enough to get a Top 10 pick out of the deal).

So, yeah, I figure to have a lot of disappointing moments this fall. And, when I’m not disappointed, I’ll just be dreading the impending disappointment I know is right around the corner. This is the year where my regular football fandom meets my fantasy football fandom.

Speaking of which, I’m coming off of one league championship in my Splinter League, so anything short of a repeat performance is bound to be a letdown. And, in my Dynasty League, so much has gone right for me this offseason, I don’t even know where to begin.

For starters, the Cowboys finally cut Ezekiel Elliott. I have Tony Pollard as the unquestioned lead back. Then, the Vikings cut Dalvin Cook; I have Alexander Mattison. And, the coup de grace, since my Dynasty team has struggled with shabby quarterback play for the last decade, I’m actually not dreading my two guys. Justin Fields – when healthy – gobbles up points with his legs; his experience last year should hopefully propel him into better results through the air. Then, with Rodgers being traded to the Jets, I get to hang onto Jordan Love and see what he’s made of. If they both pan out, I’ve got two QBs locked and loaded for the next half decade. With the way the rest of my team shakes out, I’m not desperate to fill any particular need; I can truly take the Best Player Available in the draft to fill out my bench, and my team should be all the better for it.

Except, of course, we know that’s not how it actually works. My quarterbacks will probably stink and/or get hurt. The rest of my roster will underperform. I’ll play against a lot of fantasy teams going on their best weeks. And, even the weeks I’m victorious, I’ll just dread the following week all the more, because that’s how fantasy football works. It’s a neverending hellscape of frustration.

If I wasn’t getting married and going on a honeymoon this fall, I don’t know WHAT I would be looking forward to! But, it sure as shit isn’t this football season. That I’ll be watching with my hands covering my face, one eye peeking in between a set of fingers, ready for the next nut punch to come my way.

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