In each of the eight seasons since the franchise secured its first and only championship, success in Seattle was purely measured by the Seahawks' ability to win another. Stakes were at an all-time high, filling the air with a suffocating sense of anxiety and pressure that would never be alleviated in any of those eight years.
Winning was everything and the Seahawks certainly did a lot of that. But their capacity for winning at a high level proved limited and, for some, was eventually deemed unworthy of admiration. Nevertheless, while each of those eight seasons ended in heartache, Seattle achieved at a rate many sports enthusiasts spend years—and even decades—pining for.
Although they fell on the wrong side of one of the most stunning finishes in the history of major American sports, the Seahawks' accomplishment of making a second consecutive Super Bowl should not be lost. They were the first team since the 1996-97 Packers to win back-to-back NFC titles and remain the last to do so to this day.
Furthermore, they made the playoffs an additional five times after their Super Bowl XLIX nightmare, winning the NFC West twice. One would think this rare level of consistency would be appreciated, but for many, it only serves as a painful reminder of Seattle's inability to make a deep run in the postseason.
Having the pieces in place that the Seahawks did—one of the NFL's most legendary defenses, a future Hall of Fame talent at quarterback, a front office that, in the early stages, seemingly hit on every decision it made and a head coach whose core philosophy was built on the foundation of winning "forever"—the goal morphed from sustaining a perennial playoff contender to building one of the most dominant programs the football world has ever seen.
"Dynasty" was a word that quickly became synonymous with the Seahawks after their 43-8 victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. But these big hopes and expectations would soon dissipate as Seattle suffered the same fate many franchises before it had met, resulting in gut-wrenching disappointment for eight straight winters.
Hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after weeks and months of tireless work is—or, at least, should be—every team's goal year in and year out. But if your name isn't Tom Brady or Bill Belichick, doing so is incredibly difficult. Even the Rams and Chiefs, who are widely considered to be the model organizations of the past half-decade, only have one championship apiece to show for it.
In spite of such unfavorable odds, most players and coaches believe things can be different for them. The Seahawks, their fanbase and those who covered the team certainly felt that way. But it's that same passion, as well as everything else that comes with success, that eventually bore toxicity, fractured relationships and ended eras.
As a result, Russell Wilson is now throwing passes for the Broncos. Bobby Wagner will now help the Rams in their own quest for a second consecutive championship. The storied "Legion of Boom" has long been dismantled, and the off-field behavior of some of its members has unfortunately begun to tarnish the group's legacy.
It's an unfitting end to one of the greatest runs in Seattle sports history and, frankly, something that will take a long time—if ever—for many to look back on with complete and utter fondness. Because the mere thought of how great that group was in its prime immediately floods the brain with countless "what ifs" and reminders of the unprecedented success that was ultimately unfulfilled.
But will that always be the story of the Seahawks? Or will there come a time, somewhere down the road, that this pain finally subsides for all involved?