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I’ll admit it. I was a little worried.

Even as Seattle was bathed in blue and green, 12th Man flags were as ubiquitous as beards on Capitol Hill, and whoever wasn’t here saying “Go Hawks!” at the end of every sentence was on a flight to Newark, I harbored an unthinkable thought:

What if we lost the Super Bowl?

This was typical Seattle thinking. The very idea that we would win it all felt foolhardy.

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So the annual Hutch Award Luncheon seemed the place to work through some of my anxieties. The event, which benefits the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was chock-a-block full of people who have walked onto the field before a crowd who wanted a win — maybe more than they players themselves.

And they know what it’s like to trudge off in defeat — something the Seattle Seahawks never got near the other night.

This year’s Hutch Award recipient was Raul Ibañez, who just left the Seattle Mariners for the second time to join the Los Angeles Angels. So if I was sensing a loss, well, I guess he was it.

He spent some time before the luncheon with its keynote speaker, the Hall of Fame hitter Rod Carew. Together, they visited students at the Hutch School

, where kids and family members of those being treated at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

can keep up on their studies.

Upon entering the school, Ibañez asked Principal Christie Brown about safety; his wife had a cold and he didn’t want to risk infecting anyone. Purell should do it, Brown told him.

Looking on, Mike Rubin, the philanthropic gifts adviser for The Hutch (and a former patient), told me how he had gone through his old cigar box of baseball cards the night before, looking for a Carew card.

“Unfortunately, sadly, no,” he said when I asked if he had any luck. “Lots of Lou Piniella, though.”

Brown gathered the kids in a semicircle, had the two men sit up front, and then asked them to say their names and ages, just like the kids. (“I’m Raul, I’m 41 and I play baseball for the Angels.”)

Carew told the kids of his beginnings, and how baseball allowed him opportunities like meeting nine presidents.

He also told them about losing his daughter Michelle
(he called her “Pish”) to leukemia in 1995, when she was just 18.

“She fought a great battle,” Carew said.

One kid asked them about their hobbies. Carew has taken up photography; Ibanez likes to play the guitar, and even takes his on the road.

“Art is a great way to find the comfort and peace that everybody is striving for,” he said. “Whatever I am feeling will come through the instrument. It’s a great release, and a great way to quiet everything down.”

And when his baseball career quiets, Ibañez would like to go back to college “and see what happens.”

Carew agreed: “Sports is only for a time,” he told the kids. “Education is forever. The more you learn, the more successful you will be. We all have gifts, and if yours is to be a teacher or a doctor, do it and do it well.”

And what would Carew say about dealing with defeat?

“It’s a game,” he said of the Super Bowl. “Someone has to win, someone has to lose. There are no ties.”

At the luncheon, I made the rounds with my question. Three days before the Big Game and I was Debbie Downer.

“This is a hard one for you to write, isn’t it?” said a sympathetic Kelly Olerudwhen I spotted her waiting for her husband, former Mariner John Olerud
who was visiting with fans after the luncheon. Guy’s been out of the game since 2005, but the folks still line up to say a few words and ask for a signature.

Between signing balls, the former Mariner/Met/Red Sox/Yankee/Blue Jay/Wazzu first baseman entertained my question: how to deal with loss?

“The best way to deal with loss is to win!” Olerud told me. “You just keep going and keep going to try to do it better next time.”

Losing the Super Bowl hadn’t even occurred to Mariners Chairman and CEO
Howard Lincoln

“If they lose?” Lincoln said, then paused. “I don’t think that’s gonna happen.”

Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs would hardly entertain the thought.

“No need to worry about losing,” he told me. “We’re gonna win.”

The victory went beyond the Seahawks and the 12th Man.

Thanks to a friendly wager, veteran and active-duty families staying at the VA Puget Sound Fisher House will soon be feasting on buffalo-steak dinners, courtesy of the Board of the Denver Fisher House.

And in another instance of “to the victor go the spoils,” the Rotary Club of Denver will donate $1,000 to the Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign — in the name of the Rotary Club of Seattle. In the spirit of Rotary, though, the Seattle club will match the Denver donation.

“Rotary’s motto is ‘Service above self,’ ” said spokesman Hamilton McCulloh. “So while we are beyond thrilled with the Seahawks championship run, we are thrilled to partner with our friends in Denver to be victorious in our efforts to eradicate polio.”

They’ve also canceled their meeting this Wednesday to attend the Seahawks victory parade.

Why was I even worried?

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

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