Everyone loves Peyton Manning: And who can’t hope he’ll make the most improbable comeback in Super Bowl history to win on Sunday. But if you come from Baltimore or live your life there, you’ve got to root for Seattle.
Now Seattle’s national image and brand is of a wealthy, upper-middle class, sophisticated high tech city. And of course, it’s the home of Starbucks. What could be more different from gritty, grizzled old Baltimore? Seattle after all, is the city where Meg Ryan fell in love with Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle. Baltimore’s TV media brand is The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Streets.
But scrape off those slick, superficial clichés and there’s much more in common than you think.
First, Seattle, like Baltimore, really is industrial. It actually makes things. If our presidents since Nixon and our successive congresses over the past 40 years had bothered to protect other industries the way they (sensibly) did protect aircraft manufacturing, all those demolished ghost working class neighborhoods in Baltimore would still be buzzing with prosperity and upward mobility generated by tens of thousands of industrial workers too.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, bless her, understands this when she fights for jobs in Maryland. But almost none of her Capitol Hill colleagues seem to.
(To understand how that works, order a copy of my 2012 book “That Should Still Be Us: How Thomas Friedman’s Flat World Fantasies are Keeping Us Flat on Our Backs” off amazon.com)
Seattle is obviously a smart city. But so is Baltimore. After all, it’s still home to Johns Hopkins, one of the world’s greatest hospitals and medical research complexes.
Seattle doesn’t feel like San Francisco or Miami. It feels a like a serious, tough city where people roll up their sleeves, work hard, love their families and don’t take no shit. In other words, it feels like …. Baltimore.
Seattle’s football fans are raucous, proud, sensitive, uncompromising. They drink beer, not fine wines. They eat big burgers, not finely-grained pâtés. They sound and feel like, well, like Ravens fans.
For the Seahawks play the same kind of football as the Ravens. Both are tough, look-you-in-the-face-and-glare teams that play smash-mouth football. Both have two of the finest defenses in the game. And both of them have Rodney Dangerfield’s old problem. They can’t get no respect. And they know it.
All the hundreds of thousands of congressional staffers, lawyers, lobbyists and associated rich trash who feast like locusts off the American economy and body politic as Redskins fans in Washington, DC like to pretend Baltimore and its Ravens don’t exist. Every couple of years or so, the Ravens go beyond winning a routine division title to a championship game or the Super Bowl itself and force the unpleasant reality of their continuing existence and success back down the throats of those infantile-regressive, pathetic Redskins-fawning losers.
Was anyone in Baltimore shocked — shocked! — when Richard Sherman said those unladylike words about the 49er’s Michael Crabtree, whom he’d just humiliated and outleaped to win the AFC title?
Well, is Richard Sherman paid to be a poodle sensitivity trainer or a love-power guru on The View? No, he’s paid to be an in-your-mouth cornerback in the NFL and he’s one of the best in the business. Anyone who appreciates the John Harbaugh-coached, Ray Lewis-led Ravens can respond to that.
The Seahawks, like the Ravens, represent and express the spirit of their city. They aren’t embarrassed, defensive or sneering about the people they represent and the people who love them, and that’s another reason to love them. They haven’t folded over and died like poor Detroit’s awful Lions.
Ravens fans know the pretty boys in New York and LA and the power-hungry, psychopathic, ladder-climbing lice of Washington’s K Street will cross the road and shrunk into their turned up collars if they see a crowd of them coming down the street. Seahawks fans have the same social problem.
But the Seahawks, like the Ravens are bigger and better than all those pretentious clowns. They deliver wins and trophies – and most all, pride to their cities.
And that’s why, though I dearly love Peyton, I’ll be rooting for Mr. Sherman and his truly admirable fellow role-models on Sunday.
Martin Sieff is a former senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and former Managing Editor, International Affairs for United Press International. Mr. Sieff is the author of “That Should Still Be Us: How Thomas Friedman’s Flat World Myths Are Keeping Us Flat on Our Backs” (Wiley 2012) and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East” (Regnery, 2008). He has received three Pulitzer Prize nominations for international reporting.