SEATTLE — We start by putting our spotlight on what’s become the best rivalry in America – one that’ll be on display at Centurylink Field next Sunday night.
I know the Hawks-Niners rivalry doesn’t have many years of history. But it currently has all the best ingredients. Bad blood. Huge hits. Verbal jabs. And coaches who’ve had beef with each other in the past. Best of all, its two teams trying to beat the other at its own game, because both are built on physically dominating the other side.
I think the Seahawks-Niners rivalry is most so appealing because it’s built on machismo. The NFL is already built on physicality, but these two teams take it to a completely different level, because that’s their identity:
Which side can impose their will on the other? Which side will get the other to submit?
Nothing that’s happened since the Seahawks physically dominated the Niners in December has quelled that fire. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh basically called the Seahawks cheaters after Bruce Irvin was suspended for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy in June.
Said Harbaugh, quote, “you don’t want people to… say they’re winning because they’re cheating. If you cheat to win, then you’ve already lost, according to Bo Schembechler.”
The reaction from the Seattle side has been less than friendly. Brandon Browner told SportsRadio KJR that he’d like to put his hands around Harbaugh’s neck.
Golden Tate said he wants to give Harbaugh the “Sean Lee treatment” – a reference to the big block he laid on the cowboys linebacker last year. And Niners linebacker Patrick Willis told ESPN that, when they play the Seahawks, “we’re not throwing little jabs that barely hurt. We’re trying to knock each other out.”
Like the Red Sox-Yankees arms race in baseball, the Hawks and Niners spent the off-season countering the others’ moves. The Hawks sign Percy Harvin, the Niners sign Anquan Boldin. The Hawks sign a former Niner… the Niners sign a former Hawk.
Tell me it’s just one game – and I’ll tell you as a divisional game, it’s more like one-and-a-half, because of head-to-head tiebreakers. Add the rivalry intensity and the recipe is there for the most exciting night at Centurylink Field through the end of this year.
Next Sunday night is the latest edition of Pete Carroll’s “always compete” mantra against Jim Harbaugh’s competition to the point of psychosis.
And we’ll cast another stone tonight – the 12th man is ready too. Ready to set a record – and help lead the hawks to a divisional win.