Remembering 9/11

Photo by National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Sept. 11, 2001, also was a Tuesday, and the day dawned even sunnier in the Seattle area than today.

It was to be like any other Tuesday during the NFL season. The Seahawks players were having their off day. Mike Holmgren and his coaching staff were working on the game plan for that week’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Then everything changed, as two hijacked airliners flew into the twin towers that were the World Trade Center in New York City, stunning a nation and setting off tsunami-like ripples that would cause the NFL to suspend its slate of games that were scheduled for that weekend.

In Kirkland, while glancing out the window at the sunshine and then back to the horrific images being replayed on TV, the overwhelming sense was, “This can’t be happening.” And while the terrorist attack looked like a scene from a Bruce Willis movie, it was the harshest of realities – and life as we knew it never would be the same.

For those of us who had lived through the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, there was a point of remorseful reference. But those were acts of insanity against one individual that shocked the nation. The events of 9/11 were acts against the nation that rocked individuals in a variety of ways.

On the West Coast, it took a while to understand just what the people in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., were dealing with. When the Seahawks reconvened on Wednesday, the players voted to play that weekend.

Then, player rep and Pro Bowl linebacker Chad Brown took part in a conference call, and heard firsthand what the players for the Giants, Jets and Redskins were dealing with.

“The majority of the player reps on the phone, speaking for their teams, said they didn’t want to play,” Brown said at the time. “Whether it be just the New York guys simply being able to practice and focus; guys having safety concerns, whether it be flying or at the stadium; or just simply not wanting to be away from their families at this time.

“It gave me a little more reality to it. How can those guys do it, when that’s all they see 24 hours a day?”

Brown relayed the emotions of the other player reps to the Seahawks players, who then voted not to play that week.

“We couldn’t be any further removed,” Brown said. “We’re playing at home. We’re not traveling. All those things would have complicated the issue, and I’m sure for a lot of guys in the locker room it would have made it a lot easier to say, ‘No, I don’t want to play.’ ”

Fellow linebacker Levon Kirkland definitely shared Brown’s concerns.

“Whether we play Sunday is not the No. 1 thing,” he said. “It falls way down the list. I just think it is time to mourn. Once we do that, then we can push forward.”

And that is what the Seahawks and the league did – mourn, move those games scheduled for Sept. 16 to Sept. 23 and extend the season until Jan. 6 to accommodate the only decision that could have been made.

But the yearly reminder we all get about 9/11 is much stronger for some. That Tuesday in 2001 was the 30th birthday of fullback Mack Strong.

“My 30th birthday will forever be the most memorable birthday of my life,” he said. “It was very sad. My wife and I and a lot of friends prayed about it and reflected.

“The part that got me the most, when I got a little emotional, is when I saw the (World Trade Center) start collapsing. You know at that moment, people are losing their lives. We’ve all been in the sort of situations where you thought you were in a life-or-death situation, but you came out of it. I can’t imagine being in a situation like that. How do you make it out of that one?

“It was a very tough day.”

A day that definitely warrants reflection.

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