The Black Athlete: The Agony of Seattle’s Defeat

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By Omar Tyree

It doesn’t matter when I write and publish this article about Super Bowl XLIX. The Seattle Seahawk’s ownership, team, coaches and rabid fan base will shake their collective heads about their last offensive — and I do mean offensive — play for the rest of their lives!

Needing one yard to score the winning touchdown with three downs, a timeout, and the NFL’s most punishing rusher at their disposal, the Seattle Seahawks’ coaching staff elected to throw a tight, timing pass into the teeth of the New England Patriots’ defense and paid dearly for it. “Interception! And the New England Patriots are the NFL Champions for the fourth time!” Except for Patriots Nation, fans groaned and tossed their half-empty bowls of chips, pretzels and Doritos at their oversized, flat-screen televisions. Let the second guessing begin! Seattle’s coaching staff offered predictably lame explanations while the Patriots players revealed that they practiced against that exact play for two weeks.

What a depressing scenario for quarterback Russell Wilson. Instead of winning his second NFL Championship in his first three years as a pro, he faces a future defined by an ill-advised pass in front of an audience of 120 million people. Before we feel too bad for Wilson, let’s bear in mind that we all confront defeat and failure, which can cripple us or make us stronger. Wilson and the Seahawks will be back in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy next year.

Championship meltdowns happen all the time. Two years ago, the San Antonio Spurs, with a 3-2 lead in a seven-game series against the Miami Heat, a six-point lead, and less than a minute to go in Game Six to win it all, imploded. Gregg Popovich — one of the NBA’s media-designated coaching geniuses — outsmarted himself and sat the team’s best player, 6’11” Tim Duncan — not once but TWICE — in the final seconds of regulation to keep him from fouling out the game on defense. With Duncan sitting on the bench, the Spurs lost two consecutive defensive rebounds, enabling LeBron James and Ray Allen to tie the game. After winning in overtime, The Heat won the title in Game Seven.

Last season, the Spurs returned to The Finals and thrashed the Heat 4-1 with the largest game-winning margins in NBA history. Will Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, and the rest of the Seahawks follow the Spurs’ example? We’ll find out next year.