How about those Seahawks? Though I’m a serious New York Giants fan, Seattle’s NFC Championship makes me pretty happy. Why, you ask? Besides the fact that Big Blue just wasn’t ready this year so it didn’t matter who took the conference, I’m very pleased that a football team with an obscure avian appellation is competing for the championship. Inquiring minds have been asking since the playoffs began, “What kind of bird is a Seahawk?” I, a humble devotee of both birds and sports as well as the overlap between these two topics, have the answer right here.
My post on the true identity of the Seahawk has been one of my most popular ever, sparking a surge in traffic that I’ll dearly miss once the Super Bowl is over. I’ve been linked by various sports forums and even by one of my favorite football columnists, Gregg Easterbrook (yes, that Easterbrook) a.k.a. TMQ. A link from SuperBowl.com may not exactly be the Holy Grail in the context of bird blogging, but for a football fan, it’s huge! Anyway, I linked to Easterbrook, with whom I usually agree on football and disagree on everything else, years ago, so I’m glad to be getting some reciprocal love back, however late.
Seahawks are so hot right now that I was asked to do my first bird-related radio interview. I had a nice chat about ospreys with Harry O, host of “The Green Hour with Harry O” on KYOU Radio in San Francisco. In retrospect, I suspect I babbled a bit, but if anyone is interested, the show will be streamed at KYOU Radio at 11 AM EST on Saturday, February 4th. What fun.
If you think being a birder gives me insight into Seattle’s chances of success on Super Bowl Sunday (my favorite holiday of the year), you’re right! As I observed last year after the Philadelphia Eagles’ foregone failure, avian-themed teams don’t do very well in the big game. In 39 Super Bowl match-ups from 1967 to 2005, only once has a football team named for a bird emerged victorious. The Baltimore Ravens crushed my beloved New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV (2001) to become football’s finest feathered franchise. Teams named for Homo sapiens just do better in this game. In an astonishing 27 of 39 contests, an organization named for a meat (not cheese) packer, chieftain, cowpoke, steel worker, indigenous American, gold miner, U.S. nationalist, or some species of pirate has won it all.
Considering how humanity treats birds around the world, this is clearly a case of sports imitating life.
POSTSCRIPT: About that Super Bowl… it seems that the Seattle Seahawks were unable to overcome the burden of a bird-themed team name. Watching the game, it seemed like the Seahawks also had trouble overcoming the burden of an uninspired offense. The Baltimore Ravens remain the only football franchise named for an avian to have ever won the Super Bowl, probably because they were just the Cleveland Browns in purple and black livery. Congrats to Steelers fans everywhere!