Like many of you, I've watched a lot of sports in my day. My earliest memory which I can say with 100% confidence that I was totally cognizant of what was happening at the time was Super Bowl XXIV, one day before my 7th birthday, when my (at the time, before my family moved to Seattle) beloved San Francisco 49ers dismantled the beyond obnoxious Denver Broncos 55-10. Since that game there's been an almost innumerable parade of sports moments that, at one point or another, I've considered my "favorite".
Watching Chris Bosio throw the silliest no-hitter in baseball history. Earnie Stewart's goal against Colombia in the 1994 World Cup. Edgar Martinez doubling down the left field line to send the Mariners past the Yankees and into the ALCS, saving baseball in Seattle in the process. The Seattle SuperSonics (NEVAR FORGET!) winning Game 5 of the 1996 NBA Finals, giving me the most false sense of hope in hostory. The University of Memphis beating the University of Tennessee in football for the first time in history*. The Mariners winning the AL West in 2001 and parading an American Flag around Safeco's infield. Marshawn Lynch's BeastQuake. Lots of memories, lots of incredibly good memories. And so, when I was given the task of identifying and writing about my favorite sports highlight, I was initially more than a little overwhelmed.
But when I took a step back from the question, I narrowed it down to this; which highlight, in retrospect, makes me happiest when recalled? Unfortunately, not Aston Villa moments feature all that highly. That's odd, considering that my Villa fandom is in so many ways a defining feature, but it is what it is. A big part of that is being geographically removed from the club; there's a complete and total lack of discussion about Villa in my (non-Twitter related) life. I don't go to the games. It's a weird (but no less real) kind of fandom, and if you read the blog that's probably not so big of a surprise.
But nonetheless, football is my favorite sport. And the Seattle Sounders are my co-favorite team. My fandom for them is, in some ways, the exact opposite of my fandom for Villa. Which is another post in and of itself, quite frankly. But enough navel-gazing. Onto the highlight! Kasey Keller means a lot to Sounders fans. Kasey Keller means a lot to American soccer fans in general, and more than a few English football fans to boot. The man is, unquestionably, a legend. And so when he announced that the 2011 MLS season would be his last, all eyes glanced towards the Sounders final 2011 home game. As it turned out, it was not an especially important game, at least in terms of the final standings. The Sounders had long since wrapped up a playoff spot, and the only thing left to play for was Kasey Keller. The entire stadium was opened up, and 64,000 fans turned out to show their appreciation for their captain.
Kasey Keller returned the favor.
This clip doesn't do justice to the noise. I've been to Seahawks games. I've seen the Melvins multiple times. Until I swallowed my pride and began wearing earplugs to rock shows I had a persistent and nearly intolerable case of tinnitus that robbed me of at least ten hours of sleep per week for years upon years. In all my life, I've never heard anything so loud. The Sounders would go on to win the game, and Kasey Keller would play another (significantly less glorious) game at CenturyLink Field. But this moment was quite literally the only thing that mattered to me at that moment. The entire world fell away. Kasey Keller did that! On the night of his sending off party! I've never been amongst the world's best at anything, but I'd imagine that reminding everyone of that fact in a night dedicated as your farewell to the game is likely a pretty tremendous feeling.
I can't describe my mood in the immediate aftermath. It consisted of an inordinate amount of giggling. I was, once again, a little kid. And that's the ultimate high for me as a sports fan. I love analysis, and smart commentary, and all of that pretentious whatnot. But if I can giggle with the same fervor as I did when I though Crayons tasted pretty great and boogers were the world's funniest substance, I will consider myself beyond lucky. Kasey Keller returned me to that place for the first time in as long as I can remember, and for that I am forever in his debt.
*Or close enough, in any case.