Seattle sports fans have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Nov 23, 2017, 7:00 AM
seahawks, jimmy graham, russell wilson...
The Seahawks may not be the powerhouse they once were, but things are still rosy for sports in Seattle. (AP)

This Thanksgiving, sports fans in Washington State have plenty of things for which to be thankful. Yes, we know the Mariners missed the playoffs for a 16th consecutive year, the Huskies weren’t able to make it back to the college football playoffs, and the Seahawks dropped a heartbreaking loss to the Falcons Monday night.

Still, sports in Seattle have come a long way since hitting their lowest point just under a decade ago.

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“In 2008, this was the worst sports city in America having probably the worst sports year any city has ever had,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk said on Brock and Salk Wednesday.

The Seahawks finished with a 4-12 record. The season saw the team hit a six-game losing streak and cycle through two quarterbacks as Matt Hasselbeck dealt with a series of injuries. Head coach Mike Holmgren left Seattle after the season — a decision he had announced earlier in the year — and was replaced by Jim Mora (who was eventually fired after one season).

Then, there were the Seattle Mariners.

“The Mariners spent $100 million, and became the first team to do that and lose 100 games,” Salk recalled. “They were completely inept to the point where they finally fired their awful GM Bill Bavasi and brought in Jack Zduriencik and his crew.”

The same year, the Washington Huskies went 0-12 – the first team since 1980 to go winless, and just the second team in the Pac-10 to do so. The team lost starting quarterback Jake Locker to a broken thumb in their loss against Stanford, and played the rest of the season with redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch under center.

The Washington State Cougars didn’t fare much better under head coach Paul Wulff, winning just two games and allowing opponents to score 60 or more points against them four times (losses against Stanford and Arizona also allowed 58 points and 59 points, respectively).

“The Huskies, Cougs, Mariners and Seahawks all had a better year than the Sonics, who were ripped from the clutches of the Seattle fans. And while all of that was happening, the economy tanked.”

So yes, 2008 was a very, very bad year for sports fans.

“Things were about as bad as they could possibly get in a sports city then,” Salk said. “And if you fast forward to today — look, things aren’t perfect. The Mariners obviously had a down year but they’ve come close to making the playoffs a couple times the past few seasons… they’re not going to lead the list of all the things we have to be thankful for right now, but I think Jerry Dipoto knows what he’s doing.

“The Seahawks have gone on the most unprecedented run of any team in this city, other than maybe the Huskies during their glory years. The Huskies have turned it around (and) went to the national college football playoff last year. The fact that we’re disappointed that this Apple Cup doesn’t have that level of meaning to them, that they come in with only two losses, is an incredibly turnaround by Chris Petersen in the last few years, building on some of what (Steve Sarkisian) did when he was here. That the Cougs are sitting here with a chance to win the Pac-12 North — when not even more than a few years ago we were talking about whether they belonged in the Pac-12 — is an incredibly turnaround, and Mike Leach deserves an enormous amount of credit, as did Bill Moos and other people at Washington State.”

The Seahawks brought the Lombardi trophy to Seattle for the first time ever with their dominant, 43-8 win over the Broncos to cap their historic 2013 season. The Huskies earned their first conference championship in 16 years, and went on to play No. 1-seeded Alabama in the Peach Bowl in 2016. This year, Washington State ranked above the Huskies for the first time since 2015, and managed to hit a Top-10 AP ranking for the first time since 2003.

And more teams could be coming to Seattle in the future.

“I think, by the way, we’re about to get basketball back and hockey back here within a couple of years, as I think an arena deal is going to get done in the next couple of weeks, Dec. 4 the (Seattle City) Council should approve the MOU and then we’ll start moving forward with a new arena being built.”

Injuries to Seahawks stars like Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman are disheartening, and there are plenty of reasons for concern for this seasons play. It’s not perfect, Salk admits.

“But I think sports life is pretty good here in Seattle.”

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Seattle sports fans have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving