Memories of the magical 2013 Seahawks season refuse to fade

Sep 21, 2023, 9:21 AM | Updated: 10:39 am

Seattle Seahawks run onto the field during team introductions before an NFL football game against t...

Seattle Seahawks run onto the field during team introductions before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

The Seattle Seahawks’ 2023 NFL season is underway. They pulled off a heart-stopping overtime win last weekend in Detroit, and this Sunday, they host the Carolina Panthers at Lumen Field.

And yes, we’re talking about the present day, living in the moment, right now, real life, reality, etc.

But, sometimes we can’t help but look back at Seahawks history. In particular, it was a decade ago when the magical 2013 season unfolded, ultimately culminating in February 2014 with a blowout Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos.

To get some help to put it all in perspective, KIRO Newsradio turned to soon-to-retire Seattle Times sports columnist Larry Stone.

As Stone sees it, there was far more to the 2013 season than just a group of dominant athletes executing plays on the field, winning 13 out of 16 regular season games. For Larry Stone, it’s also about the indelible personalities of that decade-ago campaign.

“You know, I’ve been covering sports a long time, and you just don’t get that confluence of so many magnetic people,” Stone told KIRO Newsradio earlier this week. “Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman … Kam Chancellor.

“Pete Carroll, as the coach, was a dynamic personality in his own right,” Stone continued. “It was just a bunch of alpha males who knew that they were great and sort of flaunted it and backed it up.”

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And Pete Carroll is a big part of the reason why the team shaped up this way.

“I think largely it was a happy coincidence, but I think it was also that Pete’s philosophy was to let players’ personalities shine,” Stone wrote in a follow-up email. “So, while they might have been stifled on other teams, their personalities came to the forefront in Seattle.”

Did estranged quarterback Russell Wilson count as one of those “magnetic” 2013 personalities?

“Well, not really, no,” Stone said. “I mean, he was sort of the straight man, if you will, to this group of wild and crazy guys. And he was only in his second season, and so he really hadn’t established himself as a superstar as he would.

“His personality was completely different from the others,” Stone said. “He was very staid and steady and the rest of the guys were outrageous, and he was just sort of maybe the calming influence on that team, even though I don’t think he had the stature to be an influence other than the fact that he played the most important position.”

As any even casual Seahawks fan can attest, the 2013 season was pretty incredible and is still memorable a decade later, particularly as the team has had its on- and off-the-field struggles. Ten years ago, Monday morning water-cooler talk around the region – which also took place on the occasional Tuesday or Friday – was often dominated by chatter about the team’s exploits.

Larry Stone said it was the victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game in January 2014 that made the rest of the country start to pay close attention.

It was at the end of that game when Richard Sherman tipped the ball away from Michael Crabtree and then did a sideline interview with Erin Andrews that raised Sherman and the Seahawks to near mythological status, Stone said. The 2014 Super Bowl a few weeks later was almost anticlimactic with the Seahawks’ 43-8 trouncing of the Denver Broncos.

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Of course, you can’t really talk about the 2013 season without talking about the 2014 season that followed, including a return trip to the Super Bowl for a matchup against the New England Patriots.

As for the fateful moment late in that game when Carroll called a pass play near the Patriots’ goal line that resulted in Russell Wilson throwing an interception rather than keeping it on the ground for a run by star Marshawn Lynch, Larry Stone said that was a turning point of epic proportions.

“It was never the same after that,” Stone said. “I think in 10 years when everyone is out of the game and looking back, they will pinpoint that moment as when the decline started. It was slow and they were still good, but they were never quite the same.

“They never had quite the same belief in Pete, I don’t think, after that, because everyone thought they should have given the ball to Marshawn,” Stone continued. “So it was really was a brief run at the absolute peak.”

Some 12s fixated, naturally, on that moment and its immediate impact: Losing the Super Bowl to hated New England. Others, including Larry Stone and, he said, members of the 2014 team, saw a much greater loss than just a single championship – albeit that championship was the Super Bowl.

“If they’d won that Super Bowl, which it looked like they were going to, it would have been two in a row,” Stone said. “And to a man, they think they would have won the next one, too.”

“The devastating blow of losing that one, I think, had a hangover effect,” Stone continued. If they had won, Stone said, “they would have been regarded as maybe the greatest team of all time, and that was sort of snatched away from them at that moment.”

“But, recapturing that?” Stone said. “I don’t know if they’ll ever do that.”

This story wasn’t supposed to be about Seattle baseball, but sports memories can generate so much in the way of warm feelings long after a particularly sweet moment has passed. The 1995 Seattle Mariners were that sweet moment for a lot of people for decades, and that season remains beloved for some, even though the M’s returned to the playoffs in 2022 after a long drought.

Fond sports memories, it seems, have the ability to create a satisfying narrative – with a beginning, a middle and a happy ending – decades after the fact.

Larry Stone said there is danger in that kind of, let’s call it, “Magical ’95 Mariners Thinking.”

“As time passed (for the Mariners), and that was still the shining moment, it becomes a backlash of like, ‘Alright, that ’95 season was great, but stop clinging to it,'” Stone said. “You need to create some new memories.”

Do the Seahawks face the same potential backlash?

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“I don’t think the Seahawks have hit that point yet (at) 10 years (and) still waiting to go back to the Super Bowl,” Stone said. “If we’re at the 25th anniversary and they’re still looking back at that as the as the peak moment of the Seahawks, then we’ll see if it’s remembered quite as fondly.”

As for current prospects for any magnetic 2023 Seahawks, Larry Stone said that D.K. Metcalf has the potential to become a memorable character.

And what about on the field?

“I think they’re going to be a playoff contender,” Stone said. “I’m not sure they have the team to go far in the playoffs or even to make the playoffs, but I think they’ll be in the race.”

In late September 2023, you could probably say the exact same thing about the Mariners.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien, read more from him here, and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea or a question about Northwest history, please email Feliks here.

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