A Letter to the 12s

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I didn’t arrive in Seattle last season. I think people forget that about me. I’ve been here for a minute — and my relationship with this city actually goes back all the way to five years ago, when I was taking free agent visits after leaving the Giants. My favorite visit I took by far was with the Seahawks.

I hung out with Coach Carroll, and we connected right off the bat. One thing Coach and I have in common is how people underestimate us. Like — he’s the oldest coach in the league, so you might look at him one way. But then he’s bringing all of these modern concepts to the table. Or you might think of him as this laid-back guy, and sometimes that’s true. But he’s also one of the most competitive dudes you’ll ever meet. And with me it’s similar, where for a long time people had me pegged as this or that. Geno’s a bust, Geno’s a backup at best or what have you. Coach Carroll, though, I think he could tell I had a lot more to offer.

I ended up signing with the Chargers that offseason, because it seemed like an opportunity to start. But the Seahawks really made an impression on me. And when things didn’t work out in L.A., my first thought was that Seattle could be a great fit.

I was right.

And I’m not just saying that since I’ve had some success here now. Even when Russ was QB1, I felt like I belonged on the Seahawks. Because they let me be myself. No one made me feel like I had to act a certain way as the backup, or be less of a competitor — just a good teammate and someone who works like hell. They made me feel like my job wasn’t to back up Russ, it was to push Russ. And I took that job seriously. I wasn’t only staying ready. I was getting better.

I also felt grateful during those years for how our culture went beyond just our building. The support I felt from the locker room, I felt it from the city as well. I’d go out and get my morning coffee on game days, and the way I’d be treated, you’d think I was the starter. All the warmest greetings and our fans hyping me up. That’s what’s unique about this place, I think. You all care about the whole team — and about us as people. Not just the wins and losses. You actually care about being a part of the culture we’re setting.

When I got on the field in the Thursday Night game two years ago, that was bittersweet. You hate to see your teammate go down, especially someone like Russ who’s been a great friend to me. And we came up short in terms of getting the W, which was extremely disappointing. But after that game? I was buzzing. I can’t even describe it. It’s like I couldn’t stop thinking about how great it felt to finally play in front of the 12s. The energy was unmatched.

I was frustrated with my play that year, though, because I didn’t fully show what I was capable of. I was seeing the field well, and I knew I’d grown as a player since the last time I got a shot. But it’s like my body wasn’t doing what I wanted it to yet. So I think from the outside maybe it looked like I was the same QB as before … when really I was just shaking off rust. My teammates knew, though. Even with some mistakes I was making in those games, I could tell I had their confidence. I could tell they believed I was a guy they could win with. And that meant a lot.

Then in the offseason, I was probably one of the first people to know that a Russ trade might happen. I got a random text from Coach — this was before any of the news broke. And it was just like, “We’re going to need you big-time this year!!” I didn’t know for sure, but I had a pretty good idea of what that meant. The first thing I did after was call my mom, and I said, “Mom … it’s about to happen.” She’s like, “What??? What’s about to happen???” But I couldn’t really say more. So I’m just repeating myself, you know, like, “It’s about to. It’s about to. Trust me. It’s about to happen.

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It’s crazy to think how that phone call was only a year ago ... and now I’m signing this deal to stay in Seattle as QB1.

And I wanted to write this letter to express my gratitude — and to tell you all those same four words I told my mom: It’s about to happen. I’m so appreciative of everything that’s taken place over this past season. But this contract for me is a happy moment, not a happy ending. For me it’s the start. That’s just who I am. That’s the drive I have. You tell me I’m the backup? I’m going to prepare like I’m the franchise guy. You tell me Russ got traded, and now it’s an open competition? I’m going to be like, “Not for long.” You tell me Denver has the best D in the league? I’m going to march it down the field, first drive of Week 1, and get six. You tell me it’s a rebuild? I’m going to start thinking playoffs. You tell me I made the Pro Bowl? I’m going to try to make 10 Pro Bowls. You tell me we had a “nice” season? I’m going to follow it up with a great season. That’s just always my mentality with things — I’m always trying to get better.

And helping the Seahawks get better is where my head’s at right now.

Giving this community something to be proud of is where my focus is going to be for as long as I’m in Seattle.

I’ll tell you a quick story. It’s Week 18 after the Rams game … we won to stay alive, but it’s up to the Lions later that night if we’re making the playoffs. And I decide I’m not watching. My girl and I make dinner plans, and I’m just like, “whatever happens, happens.” But then it’s so funny, because what happens is … she takes forever to get ready. FOREVER. And finally I can’t take waiting anymore, so I’m like, alright — I have to turn this game on. And as soon as I start watching, I just get this flood of emotions. I’m realizing “whatever happens, happens” isn’t how I’m feeling at all. I want to make the playoffs so bad. So now I’m going crazy every five seconds. I’m hitting the QBs group chat with the play-by-play. And my girl is like “are you ok??” because she’s in the other room getting dressed and I’m out here shouting, like, “DAN CAMPBELL!!! LET’S GO!!! JARED GOFF!!! LET’S GO!!!

Thankfully my favorite player Jared Goff came through, and we ended up getting in. But what I remember most from that night isn’t even the feeling of making the playoffs … it’s the feeling of almost not making the playoffs, if that makes sense. That’s what sticks with me. I hated that feeling of not controlling our own destiny, and of thinking we may have let you all down.

And that’s the energy I’m trying to take with me into next season. I really don’t know what the future holds — but I know I control my own destiny again. And I know I didn’t make it this far just to lose. I want to WIN, and I want to live up to the legacies of the great Seahawks players who paved the way here: Russ, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, Warren Moon, all those guys. Maybe even more than that, I want to be an example for anyone who might’ve gotten knocked down from their goals. Not even just in the NFL, but in life — anyone who might be feeling like a disappointment, or who might be getting pegged as someone who can’t achieve certain things. Maybe they can look at me and say, Geno ... he kept grinding. He kept believing in himself. And eventually he found a city that believes in him back.