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A flood of sunshine, good feelings in Seattle


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POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2009

SEATTLE » This may be the most incorrectly stereotyped city in the world, its public image nowhere near its reality. I expected gloomy skies and gloomy attitudes. The most famous person I can think of from Seattle (Jimi Hendrix) died of a drug overdose, and the second-most famous (Kurt Cobain) killed himself. Doesn't it rain here 366 days a year, 367 during leap years?

With all the sunshine and friendly, smiling people I encountered during my first 24 hours out of the airport, I've got to put some credence into quite the opposite, something I'd heard over the years from a few people: Seattle folks perpetuate that stuff about this being a dark, unpleasant hellhole to discourage visitors so the residents can keep the great vistas, great food and great music all for themselves.

Of course, the reality is somewhere in the middle. Superb scenery, edibles and tunes? Check, check and check. But, yeah, you can't judge the weather just on a nice day in early September. And there is something dark to test the positive attitude of the happiest people—a relentless plague of unsuccessful sports teams.

HE SHOULD be playing pro football somewhere right now, not hanging out at the scene of high school exploits. But here is linebacker Adam Leonard, at the Seattle Center field, watching his former Hawaii teammates practice in preparation for Washington State at Qwest Field tomorrow.

Poor Adam Leonard. Never thought I'd think that. He was one of the best stories of the Warriors' glory run in 2006 and 2007, coming back from a high school knee injury that deleted his name from the wish list of the big-time colleges. So he went to UH, rehabbed the knee, and did nothing but make big play after big play as the Warriors went 23-4 and to the Sugar Bowl.

But, here he is. Undrafted, uninvited as a free agent. On the day the NFL opened its season, Leonard watched his former college team practice on a field where he starred for Rainier Beach High School.

I'd found my gloomy Seattle story.

NOT SO fast.

Leonard is smiling. Not a trace of unhappiness.

“;It is what it is,”; he says. I hate the cliche, but I've always liked Leonard, like him even more now because he can take disappointment so philosophically.

Leonard has worked out for New York of the new UFL, and he's optimistic about catching on.

I ask the born-and-bred Seattle guy about the sad area sports scene. He says there's a lot to be excited about, even though the Sonics blew town, the Mariners are out of it again, the Seahawks haven't been good since the year after they were in Super Bowl JJ (Janet Jackson), and Washington football is still trying to climb off the mat.

“;With high school, a lot of the cream of the crop is here,”; Leonard says. “;Three of the top players in the nation. And even though the Sonics are gone, this is still a great basketball city. U-Dub football is selling out even though they're not winning.”;

We agree Jake Locker is a way better player than Tim Tebow, and worth watching regardless of his team. Same for Ichiro and the M's. With a new head coach, there's renewed hope for the Seahawks.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The sun shines plenty in Seattle.