We hear, all too often, about perspective in sports.
About losing it. About keeping it. About something putting a mere game into it. It’s the cliché that keeps on giving, because us sportswriters never met a cliché we didn’t like. (See? I told you).
And yet, as I thumb through the thesaurus in my mind, I can come up with no better word to describe my Saturday afternoon.
I got to hang out, you see, with Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman of the Seahawks. They were taking part in the franchise’s caravan through Vancouver, an expedition designed to generate excitement for the coming season.
And along the way, Browner and Sherman — along with two members of the Sea Gals dance squad and mascot Blitz — received a metric ton of perspective.
The players — a pair of All-Pro caliber cornerbacks — were greeted by a rabid crowd at Big Al’s in east Vancouver. They revved up the fans. They signed autographs. They were engulfed by a level of fanaticism that only the NFL can inspire in this country.
Take Deacon McDonald of Vancouver, for example. Deacon, accompanied by mom Jenny and dad Josh, had his shirt signed by Browner.
“It’s the baptism,” Dad said. “The brainwashing begins early; we can’t have him being a Niners fan.”
Deacon slept through the whole thing. Then again, he’s only 5 months old.
Or take Hayley Wakefield of Vancouver, a 16-year-old who says she has been a Seahawks fan for life because she was “raised that way,” as if we were talking about the Church of Football.
How many fans turned out? 800? 1,200? Hard to tell, but at one point more than 250 of them were in a line that wound through Big Al’s and out the door and along the front of the building.
So, yeah, there was plenty of fanaticism. But the perspective had come earlier in the afternoon, when the Seahawks’ entourage visited the Camas home of Staff Sergeant John Kaiser and his family.
Kaiser was wounded in Iraq in 2006, forcing his retirement from the military.
“An enemy mortar round hit our Stryker,” Kaiser said. “I was on top, so I was exposed.
“It shattered my cheekbone and temple, and fractured my skull. And if that wasn’t enough, one of the bastards shot me in the shoulder. About the only thing I felt was a pulse where my cheekbone and jaw should have been.
“We all think we’re bullet-proof over there until you find out you’re not. You kind of maintain your sanity over there thinking, ‘I won’t get hurt.’ “
All of which serves as a reminder that covering Larry Fitzgerald maybe isn’t really that hard.
“Oh, man, it’s humbling,” Browner said. “Those are the true heroes. I’m just doing what I love to do; they’re putting their lives on the line.”
Which is one of those clichés that never loses its importance.
Because of that, the Seahawks are making it a point to visit wounded warriors as they travel to cities throughout the Northwest. They brought T-shirts and a helmet and even a 12th Man flag for Kaiser and his family. They visited his home for more than an hour, just shooting the breeze like old friends and drawing plenty of stares and slack jaws from the neighbors.
And along the way, they received a bit of perspective. There’s simply no better word for it.
Greg Jayne is Sports editor emeritus of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne