My mother is the biggest Boston-sports fan I have ever known in my life. She complains. She calls the players of various New England teams "bums." She talks a fair-weather game when the chips appear down, but she always goes back--win or lose. It would be easy to listen to her and think you're hearing a cynic, a pessimist, a hater. But you would be hearing a lie. She has to say negative things during games the way that dude has to wear the same pair of socks each week during football season. Her loyalty to New England sports, specifically the Patriots, never wavers, never cracks. She grew up with the team and her dad, my Nonno, watching, in his chair, every Sunday. At least I assume her zeal stems from him.
The older I get, the more I see and hear my mother in the mirror, in my voice. With this slow and inevitable metamorphosis taking place, every day of my life shedding more of my skin to reveal a modified but recognizable Weezie, comes the same excitement and anxiety and superstition that surrounds an NFL football game, especially on Sundays. But I did not grow up with the Patriots the way my mother did, and I feel like I did grow up with the Seahawks, not from childhood, obviously; I am from Mansfield, Massachusetts, where most of my family still resides (if not in Mansfield then in neighboring towns of Canton, Easton, Attleboro, and two or three others).
I have no memory of my family, including my mother, watching Patriots games during my childhood. I know they did. I know that. I just do not remember. I began noticing the Patriots, and I guess the NFL in general, during the Super Bowl in which Tom Brady went in for Drew Bledsoe, of course. From that game forth it seemed like my family's emotional commitment to the Patriots quadrupled, but I also had finally noticed the game. By the time the era of Brady-Belichick caught wind, I was already living in New Orleans for college. I could have cared less about football during my college years. I had let New Orleans swallow me lovingly, and no sports had any impact on my world. But then I would go home for breaks and see.
Patriots games had evolved into these ultra-fabulous parties, generally at our house, or maybe just when I was home. I can only remember the parties at our house. I saw the women in my family building up tornadoes of energy in our little TV room. So loud, all screaming things like, "I'm gonna have ah haht-attack," and, "Well, if they can't pull this off, with all that money they'ah makin,' then they don't deserve it. Bums." I loved sitting cozily in the TV room, bundled up in blankets and sometimes with snow falling outside. All of them, all of us eating our nerves, laughing in between plays. Talking loudly. (My mother is the loudest talker in the world. I used to think it was the Italian, but now I think she has the energy of a five year-old, and she can't get emphatic enough about certain things.) My family went crazy during the games, except my dad and me. I watched. He observed and wandered in and out of the room. Sometimes going outside. I cherished the handful of games I watched with my mother and my family, mostly women. I so thoroughly enjoyed watching Patriots games with my family that I got jealous. No matter how much I got excited or my heart would race during clutch plays, I was not a part of it.
My feelings of being an outsider was in no part caused by my family--they are the most loving and loyal people. I simply felt like to jump on the Patriots bandwagon, after years and years of indifference, would be cheap on my part. I went through college, never acknowledging the Saints, by the way, and never quite letting the Patriots adopt me. They belonged to other people, and I felt like I missed the train. I simply did not feel right getting in on it. The "hooplah," as my mother calls it.
I moved to Seattle in September of 2005, and I watched the Seahawk-Steeler Super Bowl game at Fado Irish pub in Pioneer Square. After that, I paid attention to the Seahawks. I came back to the game. Unlike with the Patriots, I adopted the Seahawks, and they adopted me back. My twenties, like a lot of peoples,' saw some crazy and confusing times. Luckily I always had people to watch the Hawks with come football season. The Seahawks were just so much fun. I grew up, and they did the same. As wishy-washy as it sounds, I feel like we evolved together. I admit that I am not an expert on Seahawk history, and I cannot name all of the players on the team, but they have held my heart for almost 10 years now.
The spirit of Seahawk fans--the 12s, as we're called--resembles completely the spirit in the little TV room in my Massachusetts home, just with thousands more people and in a different but absolutely wonderful city. Winning a game is really just the icing on the cake, when you think about it. The build-up, the excuse to talk to strangers (which is not so common, otherwise, in this city), the blue and green shirts and house flags, the earthquakes we cause at Century Link, are what make the game so fun. I love participating in it. I yell and scream like my mother, just not with her great accent. I throw my hands up in the air when the chips appear down and say things like, "Well, it's over. If they don't care, why should I?" and "Give me a break. Totes gross." I have been known to talk a fair-weather game, but I always come back, never straying more than a few sad minutes. The Seahawks are to me what the Patriots are to my mother: home.
I respect my family and the Patriots franchise, despite the controversy that has plagued the latter for years. I love Bob Kraft. Bill Belichick, in my opinion, will go down as one of the best coaches in NFL history, easily top five. If the Patriots win the Super Bowl then I will be so happy for my family, more than anyone my mother, and for the New England community.
All that being said, if I am truly my mother's daughter, which I am, then I should want nothing more than for my team to beat the living piss out of the other team on February 1. I do.