A Beast Mode Christmas

(Photo credit: Dean Rultz, Seattle Times)

Football can rip your heart straight out of your chest and shred it to pieces right in front of your very eyes.

This is what Seahawks fans experienced Sunday after the abysmal loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The game was horrible in every way it could be horrible- a flat offense, accentuated by terrible pass protection and a struggling o-line; a weak defense, rendered anemic by the absence of key starters; questionable coaching decisions and the usual addition of unhelpful penalties. The Cardinals, ranked bottom three in the league for defense and led for most of the second half by a back-up quarterback, completely dominated the game. It was a cringeworthy and heartbreaking performance from the Seahawks. And then there were the injuries. Most notable was the loss of Chris Carson (broken hip) and CJ Prosise (broken arm). Shortly after the game, it was announced that both would be out for the remainder of the season and the play-offs. Given the already substantial list of injured and suspended players, the decimation of basically the entire running back corps was nothing short of catastrophic. It felt like we were witnessing the complete collapse of the 2019 Seattle Seahawks and right before the upcoming game against the 49ers, easily the biggest of the season. Although holiday lights twinkled across the city, the mood was bleak on Sunday night

Football can also take you to the most exhilarating and blissful highs imaginable, releasing the same endorphins triggered by falling in love. Head-spinning, all-consuming joy.

On Monday night, the Seahawks signed Marshawn Lynch to a contract for Week 17 of the season and for the post-season. The minute the deal was confirmed, Seattle sports fans lost their collective minds.

Did I mention that football can give you whiplash?

Murmurs about a potential Marshawn signing started shortly after Sunday’s game. I first noticed mention in a column posted by Matt Calkins of the Seattle Times. I dismissed that column and other speculations as mere folly. However, by Monday morning, the rumors seemed to have legs. Chatter on Seahawks Twitter intensified, and several “sources” reported that Marshawn was indeed on his way to Seattle to discuss a potential deal. During his morning appearance on 710 ESPN, Pete Carroll confirmed the meeting. With that, the Twelves spent the day in waiting, constantly refreshing the Twitter feed for updates and furiously texting with friends and family in happy anticipation. The deal was finally confirmed last night around 8:30pm, and Seattle’s very soul was instantaneously renewed. Sunday’s grim story was quickly forgotten, replaced by excitement, optimism and a touch of ecstatic disbelief. Beast Mode is returning to Seattle!

This has potential to be a classic feel-good Christmas story- a beloved Seahawks team on the brink is rescued by football’s most iconic player and Seattle’s greatest sports hero. Hallmark couldn’t have written a better script. No matter the ultimate outcome, however, the signing alone was the perfect antidote to a fan base in despair. The nagging holiday melancholy that so many feel was transformed into something brighter and more hopeful. Regardless of the intent behind it or the end result, this deal was the perfect move at just the right time. Kudos to John Schneider and Pete Carroll for infusing the season with magic again.

In a video put out by Beast Mode productions, Marshawn discusses his reason for returning to Seattle. He cites “unfinished business,” referencing, no doubt, the infamous play on the one-yard line in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX. If this venture results in the second Super Bowl ring he was previously denied, then all the better. To prepare for this opportunity, Marshawn has been training intensely for the past two weeks. Apparently, talks between Marshawn and the team may have actually started when Rashaad Penny’s ACL injury took him out for the season.

So will Marshawn’s return to the Seahawks produce significant results? Who knows? He hasn’t played a game since 2018 and, at 33 years of age, he’s considered “old” by NFL standards. That said, this is Beast Mode, one of the most formidable running backs in the history of the sport and an epochal freak of nature who bends the very laws of physics to his will. Anything could happen. And whether this is a substantive strategic move by John Schneider and Pete Carroll or merely an epic PR move, it already feels like a win. Something very special is going on here.

At that point in the space and time continuum when a sports fan decides to go “all-in” with a team, they are, in essence, surrendering their psyche to the full range of emotional experiences, be it stratospheric highs, crushing lows or wild twists of the unexpected. It’s part of the unspoken agreement. Seahawks fans, in particular, are steady characters in an ever-tumultuous sports narrative and this time, quite possibly, the greatest Christmas story ever told.

“Ignore all the folks trying to temper your expectations about Marshawn coming back. They are not smarter or wiser. Nobody wants a reality check right now. We all want to dream and be merry. Something amazing is going to happen Sunday night. Let’s be part of it, not fight it.”  – Brian Newhauser, Hawkblogger