One of the lessons I’ve learned covering athletes is how their clocks are different from mine.
Take quarterback Russell Wilson, who recently turned 28. To Wilson, Jan. 13, 2013 — a day that forever will be recalled for the seeds planted by a 30-28 Seahawks defeat in Atlanta — seems, as he said this week, “a long time ago, several years ago.”
Of course it does. Wilson has seen one-seventh of his life go by in four years.
For me, four years might as well be, oh, last month. I can remember where I ate on that 2013 trip to Atlanta, and what I ate. I can remember the precise location of my hotel, if not the room number. (Then again, even when I was there, I had trouble remembering the room number.)
I can remember the festive mood in the Georgia Dome turning morbid as the Falcons lost their 20-point halftime lead with 31 seconds remaining, yet still thinking “These final 31 seconds will last longer than a visit to the dentist for a tooth extraction.”
Atlanta needed only 23 of those 31 seconds to kick the winning field goal.
And yet, by NFL standards, the playoff game perceived as a franchise turning point was eons ago. Of the Hawks’ 11 offensive starters against the Falcons, only Wilson remains with the team. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are still regarded as key cogs on defense, along with booming Legionnaires Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and the injured Earl Thomas.
Otherwise, both starting units have been overhauled, as well as almost all of the supporting cast, and I wonder: Where are they now?
Running back Marshawn Lynch famously announced his retirement with a Twitter photo, posted during Super Bowl 50, of a pair of hanging cleats. Tight end Zach Miller, by contrast, just sort of faded away. Never a candidate to be nicknamed “Iron Man,” Miller failed a 2015 spring physical after undergoing two ankle surgeries in less than a year.
Miller’s ankle troubles prevented the much-touted free agent from being all he could be with the Seahawks. But he sure showed up as a go-to target for Wilson at Atlanta, hauling in eight passes for 142 yards.
The Hawks opened that game with a two tight-end set, Miller on one side and Anthony McCoy on the other. McCoy is among the nine Atlanta playoff-game starters who were inactive this season.
Their names ring a bell in the kind of way one-hit wonder musicians from the 1970s — The Knack, say, or Rose Royce — evoke blast-from-the-past memories.
When was the last time you thought about wide receiver Sidney Rice? I am thinking about him now because he caught two of the most significant passes Wilson threw as a rookie: the late touchdown from midfield to beat the Patriots in Seattle, and the touchdown that clinched an early-December overtime thriller over the Bears in Chicago.
Rice won’t be returning to CenturyLink Field for a Ring of Honor ceremony any time soon, but he was more than present at the creation of Wilson’s legacy. Rice called it quits in 2014, citing a history of multiple concussions.
Here’s to Rice, and to left guard J.R. Sweezy, and to right guard Paul McQuistan, none of whom took a snap in 2016. Neither did defensive end Red Bryant, nor linebacker LeRoy Hill, nor cornerback Brandon Browner.
The Seahawks’ evolution from breakthrough playoff contenders in 2012 to annual playoff contenders in 2016 hasn’t been seamless — three major sideline rants in one season: is that a league record, or what?
John McGrath: @TNTMcGrath