July 20, 2014

Tethered by Twelvedom

Why are you a Twelve?

For many people, it's a simple matter of geography and proximity. For others, it might be because a certain season or player that captured their attention and refused to let go. For some, it's because of an emotional connection forged in childhood. In my case, it was a potent cocktail of all three. I've written about my origin myth as a Twelve before... If you don't feel like clicking over to those links, here's a key passage (updated a bit since it was originally written):

For many of us, this thing goes back a long way. Maybe it goes all the way back to when your Dad put you in Seahawks onesie? Maybe your Uncle took you to a game when you were six? Maybe your Mom let you decorate the living room in Seahawks finery and watched the games with you, just so you'd have it in common?

Once that ball started skipping down the field like an onside kick, maybe other things in your life stuck to it. Great memories and painful ones too, and you could relate them either directly or indirectly to the Seahawks. For me, I vividly remember watching Steve Largent break the "consecutive games with a catch" record in a hospital room, visiting my sister after my nephew's birth back in '86. Thankfully, everyone else in the room wanted that game on nearly as much as I did. The Seahawks weren't a DISTRACTION to the blessed event; They enhanced it. 

So first loves, heartbreaks, and dates with your sweetie also get all tangled up in blue and green. The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl is even more satisfying because the person you love witnessed it with you. You might not talk to your father for nearly a decade, but if he called you tomorrow you could probably talk about the Hawks.

I don't have a relationship with my Dad anymore, but most of the good memories I have of spending time with him growing up are linked to the Seahawks. I have great relationships with my Mom, my Stepdad, and much-younger brother, and a great big hunk of that connective tissue is bright Seahawks green. 

So it's not just a game or merely a hobby. It's twisted up with everything else that matters like strands of DNA.

I'm utterly obsessed with the Seattle Seahawks for a lot of complicated reasons. They're the one thing I can always talk to my relatives about when I go home to visit. They've been a comforting constant in my life as everything else was torn down and rebuilt over and and over again. When the Hawks finally hoisted the Lombardi Trophy barely a month after I finally started living my life authentically, it felt like they waited to win it all until I could celebrate that ultimate victory as a content, hopeful woman, rather than a sad, forlorn "guy."

(Oh, if you are totally confused at this point, go read this.)

There's one lone area of my life where I haven't yet been able to live authentically yet, and it's with my kids. My son is 8 and my daughter is 4, and while they've undoubtedly noticed a lot of changes in me, I'm not yet officially "out" to them. That will change this upcoming week, and I'm terrified and excited and nervous and anxious to lay down this burden. Everything that I've read about others' experiences coming out to children at those ages, as well as my own gut feelings, suggests that after a period of adjustment everything will probably be fine. That rational knowledge doesn't make this any easier, though. While I'm a bit concerned about my daughter's reaction, I'm more worried about how my son will take it. He's at the age where gender distinctions are getting more rigid in his mind. I've noticed that he occasionally says things along the lines of "Boys rule! Girls drool!" I check him on that whenever he does it around me, but it makes me fret that he may take my transition as some sort of personal betrayal of "Team Boy" or something.  

The GREAT news is that he and I have a lot in common. We both love Cosmos, MythBusters, Mario Kart, Pixar movies, and They Might Be Giants, among other things (my next personal mission is to get him hooked on "Weird Al" Yankovic). My Dad and I had no real emotional connection- It's not that way with my son and I. He knows that I love him, and that's a good start.

My experience in becoming a Twelve has instructed how I've presented my Seahawks fandom to my children. Yeah, I've bought them Seahawks gear since birth, and I've taught them about our team's history and culture, but I've never tried (or wanted to) to force-feed them the idea that they HAVE TO become Seahawks fans. My father tried to make me a boxer, a stock-car racing fan, and a fisherman. How did any of that work out? I want my kids to be 12s, but I want them to CHOOSE to don the blue, green and wolf grey.

There was a moment recently that filled my heart with ecstatic joy. My kids were in Orlando with their Mom. My Mom, Dad and brother happened to be there at the same time. They met up, and my Mom sent me a picture of her with my son. He was wearing a Seahawks' "Super Bowl XLVIII Champions" shirt. I didn't buy that for him. Yeah, I bought him a Wilson jersey last year, but that's about it in terms of the Hawks gear I've gotten for him recently. I asked my Mom if she got it for him- She said she didn't. Apparently he pestered his Mom to get it for him! It hit me: He's a Twelve. At 8 years old, the same age I was when the Spirit of 12 entered me, my son is an actual-factual TWELVE! The symmetry is incredibly pleasing to me, and my fervent hope is to get him to a Seahawks game this season (or, if not this year, in 2015 when the Hawks visit Cincinnati).

My even more fervent hope is that just as the Seahawks provided an emotional link between my father and I, they will help (in some small way) as my kids adjust to my transition and the new reality that their Dad's a girl. One BIG thing I want to get across to them when I "come out" later this week is continuity: While some things are changing (particularly how I look), the important things (who I am, how much I love them) are going to remain the same. To express this symbolically idea in some small way, I'm going to wear something familiar to them, that they've seen me wearing all their lives: Seahawks gear.

Hopefully, it will go smoothly this week, and sooner rather than later the three of us will be sitting down to watch the Seahawks together. In my vision of the future, Twelvedom will be just one of myriad things I share with my kids- But it will be a particularly important one.

Why am I a Twelve?

Because Twelving gives me a feeling of connection, community and continuity. Because Twelving will indirectly help me get through this week, like it's helped me survive all the previous tribulations in my life. Because once I share it my adoration of the Seahawks with people I love, it ceases to be "only a game." It becomes the closest thing I'll ever have to a religious faith in my life.

What do you think, sirs?

June 7, 2014

F@*k the Madden Curse

The first 6+ months of 2014 have been the most successful stretch in Seahawks history. The playoff run and victory in Super Bowl XLVIII was followed by an offseason that has seen the franchise achieve nearly all of their short-and-long term goals. Core talents like Michael Bennett and Doug Baldwin agreed to cap-friendly new contracts, and new deals for the Ring of Honor/Canton-bound pair of Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman put them on the path to becoming career Seahawks. With those deals done, PCJS should have no trouble locking Russell Wilson into his own gargantuan long-term contract a year from now. The future of the Emerald Empire couldn't possibly be brighter, and this new reality was highlighted by Richard Sherman's victory in the final Madden "Cover Vote."

Winning the cover spot on the latest Madden game is the 21st Century version of getting your face on the Wheaties box. It's a tremendous honor for Sherman himself, and it's another reminder that the Seattle Seahawks are at the top of the NFL food chain. This is what happens to Champions. They get to go to the White House. Their quarterback does Microsoft ads that run during SportsCenter. The Best Corner In The Game gets the Madden cover. Twelves should be breaking out into elaborate Bollywood dance numbers in celebration, right?

Nope. I've talked to numerous Twelves who are filled with dread about Sherman being on the Madden cover, because they believe in the "Madden Curse."

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a spiritual person. I'm an atheist, and superstition annoys me to no end. I try to have a rational, scientific mindset about life. I'm a Scully, not a Mulder. I'm a Mythbuster, not a Ghost Hunter. I rail against climate change deniers, Anti-Vaxxers, and related dumbfuckery, but few things irritate me more than people who believe in the Madden Curse. It's not just because ALL "curses" are bullshit (they are), it's also because people seem to LOVE this particular curse. Adherents to the Madden Curse can take any negative thing that happened to a player on the cover and twist it into evidence to support this bullplop hokum that they seemingly adore more than their own NFL teams. People seem to actively ROOT for this curse.

There's one broad group of "MadCursers" we can summarily dismiss: The Haters. The same impulse that makes some people relentlessly troll athletes on the internet drives them towards the alluring Schadenfreude offered by the Madden Curse. They root for the Curse because they want the popular and successful to fail and tumble down to their degraded level. That Nation of Millions who already hate Richard Sherman will be watching for ANY sign that "the Curse" is having an effect upon #25, and if he so much as allows a completion, some nimrod will start tweeting "See! It's the Madden Curse!" Fuck these people. I would love to make a Mason Verger-esque martini out of their tears.

The more problematic cohort are those who sincerely believe that the Madden Curse is something that has felled NFL players in the past, and is a tangible threat to Richard Sherman's health/performance. Curse disciples point to season-ending injuries suffered by cover athletes like Michael Vick, or to dips in performance like the one suffered by Shaun Alexander after appearing on the cover in 2006. In a hyper-violent and brutally competitive sport where injuries are commonplace and careers are short, there is no shortage of rational explanations for the tribulations that befall many Madden cover boys (may I point you towards the concept of Regression To The Mean?). Instead, MILLIONS of people prefer to believe that a shadowy, mystical "curse" is the cause of ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING bad that happens to a player on the cover.

-1999: Dorsey Levens has over 1600 yards from scrimmage? The curse made the Packers miss the playoffs!

-2000: Eddie George has 1500 yards rushing and is an All-Pro? The curse made him bobble a pass that Ray Lewis picked off in the playoffs!

-2004: Ray Lewis has a great season and is 1st-team All-Pro? The curse kept him from recording an interception all season!

-2009: Larry Fitzgerald catches 97 passes for 1092 yards? The curse made him miss the Pro Bowl with a rib injury!

-2010: Drew Brees throws for 4600 yards and 33 TDs? The curse made the Saints lose to the Seahawks in the playoffs! (No, Matt Hasselbeck and Marshawn Lynch did that shit)

-2012: Calvin Johnson catches 122 passes for an NFL-record 1964 yards? The curse kept the Lions from winning the Super Bowl (somebody actually said this to me TODAY)!

People have somehow become so emotionally invested in the Madden Curse that they've made it into this elastic, malleable catch-all explanation for all a cover athlete's misfortune. If there really was a "curse," (and remember, the concept itself is utter, uncut horseshit) wouldn't it cut down ALL of the unfortunate mortals who grace the game's cover? What's the causal mechanism here, anyway? Who placed the curse on the Madden Cover? If you're gonna push manner of pablum, you should at least come up with a decent backstory, right?

I've actually spoken to Twelves who DIDN'T VOTE FOR SHERM because they believed in the Madden Curse. Come on, guys. We're not a bunch of cave dwellers thinking thunder is rumbling outside because God is angry. We're probably the NFL's most educated, literate, intellectual fanbase. We're WAY better than this.

Even if the curse did exist, it would be no match for the mighty Seattle Seahawks. I can't wait to hear the blubbering of MadCursers after Sherm wins DPOY and a 2nd ring next February. What will the curse be responsible for then? Sherm's injury in Super Bowl XLVIII? Will it somehow become retroactive?

What do you think, sirs?

May 15, 2014

Juking Towards Lombardi: November 13, 2011

Just 30 months ago, the Pete Carroll Experiment in Seattle was spiraling towards spectacular, career-ending failure. After a disheartening 23-13 loss in Dallas, the Seahawks fell to 10-16 under Coach Carroll, including a troubling 6-12 stretch that began in October 2010. That monumental Wild Card upset of the Saints was starting to look like a fluke, and Seattle's front office had made enough questionable decisions (*cough* Charlie Whitehurst *cough*) to make even the most loyal Twelves wonder if Carroll had actually learned anything from his truncated stints in New York and New England. 

The 2-6 Seahawks were set to host the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens, and Las Vegas had installed Seattle as a seven-point home underdog. I predicted a 16-15 Seahawks win, but as I wrote then, even I had to dig deep into my bag of mental tricks to find any reason to hope: 

I've been a Seahawks fan for 28 years, and a very intense one at that. That fandom has become such an integral part of my personality that I don't know who I'd be without it. I wear some article of Seahawks clothing almost every day- That aint normal for a 36-year-old. I haven't missed a game since 1983, and I maintain a blog about a team that has a long history of mediocrity so overwhelming that they are more of an afterthought to the NFL nation than any team that is simply BAD. These are not the actions of a normal, well-adjusted human being. They are driven by obsession, compulsion and fanaticism. 

Over the years, I've come to see myself as an extension of the Seahawks organization (thus my frequent references to being an ambassador or missionary for the Twelve Army out here in Ohio) and I've come to see the Seahawks as an extension of myself. This means that any insult, any derogatory thing I hear or see about the team, is taken as a direct personal affront. 

What does this all mean? It means that if I admit the Seahawks suck (even when they do), I'm also kind of saying that I suck. It means that if I start treating the Seahawks like they are hopeless, I'm admitting that I'm hopeless as well. So in a week like this one, I don't start off thinking "The Seahawks are probably going to lose- but perhaps there is evidence that they have a chance." I start by thinking "How can I convince myself that the Seahawks will win next week?" 

We all know what happened that day at Seahawks Stadium- Seattle won 22-17 in one of the biggest upsets of the 2011 NFL season. The Seahawks started a 33-12 stretch that day that included two playoff appearances, four playoff wins, and a World Championship. If there is a game we can point to as the pivot from mediocrity to immortality for the Seattle Seahawks, this is it. So what happened that day that should have told us our team was on a Championship trajectory? 

-The Legion of Boom Babies 
Seattle's starting secondary that day should be very familiar by now: Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and the (now decamped to New England) Brandon Browner. Despite having Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice in the backfield, Baltimore backs only had 12 carries all day. Perhaps the Ravens coaches thought that Joe Flacco would shred an inexperienced Seattle secondary? The future Super Bowl MVP would throw the ball an eye-popping FIFTY-TWO times, but only accumulate a scant 248 yards through the air. The Legion of Boom was repeatedly tested, and they held Flacco to a paltry 67.4 passer rating. 

-The Haus Always Wins
Steven Hauschka is now a cornerstone of Seattle's dominant special teams, but back in mid-2011 he was a new acquisition that had already been cut by two other teams (Denver and... Baltimore). Against the Ravens he gave Seattle a taste of the 94.3% accuracy he'd deliver to the 2013 SuperHawks, nailing all five of his field goal attempts, while his Baltimore counterpart (Billy Cundiff) was busy misfiring twice. 

-Yellow Rain! 
One thing hasn't changed much over Pete Carroll's reign: Seattle remains on of the NFL's most penalized teams. Against Baltimore, the Hawks were flagged 13 times for 100 yards and still managed to emerge victorious (which would become commonplace over the next two-and-a-half seasons). 

-Doug Baldwin: Playmaker
Seattle's breakout rookie WR only had one catch against the Ravens, but it was an important one. Angry Doug hauled in a 50-yard bomb from Tarvaris Jackson on a 3rd-and 9 to keep a 2nd-quarter scoring drive alive. Soon enough we'd all realize he was Seattle's most reliable 3rd-down receiving threat since the days of Steve Largent. 

-Beast Was Bout That Action 
It seems like Marshawn Lynch has been a Seahawks institution forever, but on that Sunday against Baltimore he had been a Hawk for barely over a year. Through 2011 up to that point, Lynch had been largely contained. He scampered for 135 yards against Dallas the previous week, but it seemed doubtful that he'd repeat that sort of performance against the mighty Baltimore defense. Lynch rose to the challenge with 167 yards on 37 touches, and a single spectacular move that clinched the win for Seattle. 

-A Six-Minute Game of Keep Away
With just under six minutes left in the game, Baltimore scored to pull within five points of Seattle. It was Tarvaris Jackson and the inexperienced Seattle offense versus Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and the NFL's #3 defense in 2011. All the Ravens defense had to do was get a stop and give Flacco, Rice and Boldin one more possession. Only the most deluded Seahawks fan could have liked our chances as the offense took the field, and after a pair of penalties Seattle faced 1st and 20 from their own 10-yard-line. Hopeless. 

Two Golden Tate receptions bracketed a 5-yard tote by Lynch and moved the chains. Later in the drive, Seattle faced a 3rd-and-5. Jackson tossed it to Lynch in the flat, and this happened: 

How about another angle of that? 

Has ANYONE ELSE ever made Ray Lewis look that ridiculous on a gridiron? Lynch's epic juke moved the chains, and four more carries by Beast Mode allowed Seattle burn the remaining seconds off the clock. In all, Lynch devoured 40 yards on 8 touches in the Seahawks' game-clinching drive. 

The Hawks would finish the 2011 campaign with 5 wins in their final eight contests, and each of those three losses weren't decided until the final possession. In the ensuing offseason, PCJS found their franchise quarterback, but their guys started learning to win while Russell Wilson was still slinging the ball around Camp Randall Stadium. 

Niners fans can point to an epic comeback from a 35-7 deficit to New Orleans in 1980 as the spark for their '80s dynasty. For the '90s Cowboys, you could argue it was a 1990 upset win over the Rams in Anaheim. For the '00s Patriots, it was the "tuck rule" game... For us? It was November 13, 2011. When we look back on the history of the Emerald Empire, this game will be the origin myth. 

What do you think, sirs?

May 5, 2014

Welcome To The Empire Business, Twelves.

With Super Bowl XLVII three months behind us, and the season opener against Green Bay still three long months away, I've been thinking a lot about something I heard a lot of people saying back in February.

"Well, we're just another team now. We're NORMAL." 

I'm not here to tell you that it was a bad thing that we won the Super Bowl. Fuck that noise. It's been beyond blissful not just to be World Champions, but to feel all the pain and trauma from thirty years of bitter disappoint simply evaporate. The other day, I had a pleasant and informative conversation about the Hawks WITH A STEELERS FAN. There's no way I could have done that without deteriorating into a sputtering, foul-mouthed buffoon before we won it all. It's FUCKING AWESOME that we won the Super Bowl. Full Stop, End of Line, etc.


I don't know how excited I can possibly be about being "just another team." Yeah, in a lot of ways it sucked to be a Seahawks fan before February 2. But it sure did suck in varied and novel ways, didn't it? We were even special in the way we wallowed in our own weird purgatory of mediocrity. Twelves could always count on being able to compare scars and swap harrowing tales with other Twelves, like some gridiron version of the "USS Indianapolis" scene in Jaws. I don't particularly relish the notion of losing that part of ourselves. I don't want us to turn into the St. Louis Rams: One title, fading more quickly from memory with each passing season, and otherwise? Just another team.

I don't want the Seahawks to become just another team. The good news? They won't be. Just as they were unique in their previous mediocrity, they're poised to build an Emerald City Empire that's worth comparing to the '00s Patriots and '90s Cowboys. This team won't fade into the crowd after winning a single title. They're set to paint the NFL blue, grey and bright green for years to come. Why is that?

Seattle is the youngest team to win the Super Bowl, and they are well-positioned to lock up their "Big three" (Wilson, Sherman and Thomas) with long-term deals over the next two years. ETIII just got paid, Wilson will next year, and if a deal with Sherm can't be reached, he'll get the franchise tag until a new contract can be hammered out. The salary cap makes it incredibly hard to keep a core of Championship players together, but PCJS understand a fundamental, brutal logic: Pay your indispensable assets top dollar, let other players walk if their demands go north of your valuation of them, and fill those gaps in via the draft and, to a lesser extent, free agency. The Seahawks are young, supremely talented, and led by an owner with unlimited resources, a GM with a keen eye for talent, and a coach who is masterful motivator. Would you want to root for any other organization in sports right now? To re-purpose a line from our Bay Area rivals, No one has it better than the Twelve Army.

There's another factor that will help keep us at or near the top of the NFL food chain for a healthy spell: Disrespect. This has always been a motivating factor for the Twelve Army and the Seahawks themselves, and despite winning the Super Bowl, irksome displays of disrespect continue to manifest themselves. The NFL only gave us four national television games next season, which seems like a low number for a defending Champion. Only one of those four games will be played at Seahawks Stadium, evidently because the NFL and its television partners are tired of broadcasting Seattle beatdowns to huge national TV audiences. In addition, Seattle was given a ridiculously early Week 4 bye. I'm ALMOST surprised that we weren't sent to London this fall as well.

Super Bowl winners are supposed to attract bandwagon fans, right? I haven't seen ANY of that out here in Ohio. It's almost as if the rest of country has conspired to ignore what happened at MetLife Stadium last February. It's almost like it didn't count because it was that team from South Alaska, and it leaves me saltier than Rip Torn on a raging bender. I feel it. Y'all feel it. And it'll make us scream THAT much louder at every game this season.

Are we gonna win 5 straight Super Bowls or something? Probably not. But no team in football is better suited to dominate America's Game this decade than your Seattle Seahawks. Like Walter White, they've gone from Mr. Chips to Scarface (without all the illegal drugs and mass murder, of course). They'll be ANYTHING BUT "just another team."

What do you think, sirs?

March 12, 2014

Ranking The Squads #1: 2013 (With Updated All-Time Rankings)

Five years ago, I decided to rank every team that the Seahawks have ever fielded, and I've updated it annually since then. The first time I updated the list, I had to add the worst team in Seahawks history. Today, just half a decade later, the list includes the greatest football team of the 21st century. Here's one last look back at the magnificent 2013 Seahawks...

1. 2013
Record: 13-3
Offensive Rank: 8th out of 32 teams
Defensive Rank: 1st out of 32
Turnover Ratio Rank: 1st out of 32
Team Co-MVPs: Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor
High Point: Seahawks 43. Broncos 8
Low Point: Cardinals 17, Seahawks 10

December 22, 2013. I'll always remember that day. I'll never forget how I felt. Something died that day, and it can never be resurrected. The Seahawks were favored to beat the Arizona Cardinals and clinch the NFC West and Home Field Advantage in the playoffs with two weeks remaining in the season. Seattle was undefeated at home, and had blown out the Cardinals in Glendale a few weeks earlier. December 22, 2013 was supposed to be a coronation.

The Seahawks lost. The best defense in football blew a late 4th-quarter lead, and Arizona pulled off a stunning 17-10 upset. The rational part of my mind KNEW that this was almost certainly just a minor setback. These things often happened to Championship teams, Any Given Sunday, blah blah blah. In the rest of my skull, the red lights were flashing and the air raid sirens were howling. Thirty years of bitter experience told me to prepare for the worst. The '84 Hawks had HFA in their grasp before dropping their last two games of the season. The '99 Hawks started 8-2, only to collapse down the stretch, back into the playoffs, and get bounced by an elderly version of Dan Marino. My psyche looked like the subject of one of those execrable reality shows about hoarders, but instead of old newspapers and plastic bags, it was filled with countless memories of Seahawks disappointment. Here's the 2003 pick-six in OT against the Packers. There's Vinny Testaverde's Phantom Touchdown. Oh! I just found the 1988 playoff loss at Cincinnati! There's the 2006 OT playoff loss at Chicago hidden under a pile of Steve Hutchinson's poison pills! Super Bowl XL shrapnel? That's scattered everywhere. How would the 2013 Hawks add to this awful menagerie of misery?

Maybe they'd lose to a Rams team they BARELY beat a few weeks earlier, and tumble all the way into a Wild Card game in Green Bay. Nope. They left no doubt in a 27-9 victory.

Ah! Maybe it would be in a playoff rematch against New Orleans, who boasted an explosive offense, a Hall-Of-Fame quarterback, and ample motivation after a Monday Night blowout loss at Seattle in early December. Nope. Seattle's defense shut out the Saints for three quarters, and the Hawks held on for a 23-15 win.

Most of the football-watching nation and media bobbleheads were sure the collapse would happen against the mighty defending NFC-Champion 49ers, who had defeated Seattle a month earlier in their dilapidated, crumbling excuse for a stadium. You know what happened... Wilson to Kearse on 4th-and-7, and then "The Tip." The greatest game in Seahawks history was capped by the greatest play in franchise lore. The Seahawks were headed to New York for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Perhaps the Seahawks were waiting to torment their fans in the cruelest manner possible: With another excruciating Super Bowl defeat. The Broncos boasted the reigning NFL MVP in Peyton Manning and the highest scoring offense in NFL history. Most of America was rooting for Denver. Las Vegas favored the Broncos. Seattle's dreams of their first championship in any of the four major North American pro sports since the Carter Administration would surely be dashed again, right? The vast majority of the game's 112 million American viewers were STUNNED by what they witnessed. The Seahawks delivered a 1980s-throwback Super blowout of the Denver Broncos, who were so completely overmatched that Seattle's defense singlehandedly outscored them 9-8. Russell Wilson hoisted the Lombardi Trophy skyward, in a blizzard of blue and green confetti. Precedent was irrelevant to this team. Now, they were immortal, and things will never be the same for this franchise. We didn't know it at the time, but December 22, 2013 was the last gasp of Seahawks mediocrity. It was the death rattle of disappointment.

The men on the 2013 roster will always be fondly remembered by the Twelve Army, but it seems only appropriate that the team MVP award is split three ways between Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. They were the core of the best defense the NFL has seen in over a decade. Thomas and Chancellor anchored the best single-game defensive performance of all time in Super Bowl XLVIII, and Sherman's tip to Malcolm Smith in the NFC Championship Game is our equivalent to "The Catch" by Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship Game- The play that gave birth to an NFL dynasty.

Beyond the Legion of Boom, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril led a ferocious Seattle pass rush, while Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, Bobby Wagner, Malcolm Smith helmed a suffocating rush defense. In four short years, John Schnieder and Pete Carroll completely tore down a Seattle D that was 26th in scoring defense when they arrived and built a unit worthy of comparisons to the '85 Bears, '00 Ravens and '02 Buccaneers.

Seattle also boasted the best special teams unit in football. Steven Hauschka was the NFL's most reliable kicker in 2013, and the Hawks' punt and kick coverage units operated at near-record setting levels (thanks in no small part to the efforts of punter Jon Ryan). Golden Tate was one of the league's most electrifying punt returners, and Percy Harvin proved he is still a lethal weapon as a kick returner in extremely limited action.

The offense was somewhat overshadowed by that historically dominant defense, but they were still brutally efficient and effective (they scored 26 points per game, which was 8th best in the NFL). Russell Wilson avoided any whiff of a sophomore slump, racking up a passer rating of 101.2 and accounting for 27 total touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch exploded for 1573 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns- Once all the Skittles have fallen from the sky, he'll be remembered as the best running back in Seahawks history. Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin. Jermaine Kearse and Sidney Rice (pre-injury) all made significant (and essential) contributions at WR despite playing on the most run-oriented offense in football. Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson made an impact at tight end that wasn't always obvious on the stat sheet, and Seattle's offensive line recovered from a shaky period in midseason to become one of the best overall O-line units in football by season's end.

Seattle's run-first, defense-oriented style is in many ways a throwback to an earlier era, as was their path to pro football's pinnacle. While Schneider and Carroll made many savvy moves in free agency, this championship team was primarily built through the draft with home-grown talent. Recent NFL history is filled with champions who sneaked into the playoffs as a lower seed, got hot, and snagged a Lombardi Trophy. The 2013 Seahawks were the product of a slow and steady progress from frailty to dominance over four long seasons, and when they finally got their championship opportunity they seized it with zeal and brutality. They seem poised to create something else we haven't seen in the NFL for a while: A dynasty that can be spoken of in the same breath as the '00s Patriots, the '90s Cowboys and the '80s 49ers.

My mind is uncluttered now. All the garbage of failure and disappointment has been hauled to my mental landfill. Just in time, too- I'm gonna need room in there for a shitload of banners and trophies.

What do you think, sirs? What are gonna be YOUR enduring memories of the 2013 Seahawks?

For your entertainment: Here's the updated ranking of every team in franchise history- Enjoy!
1. 2013
2. 2005
3. 1984
4. 1983
5. 2012
6. 2007
7. 1986
8. 2003
9. 2006
10. 1988
11. 1987
12. 2010
13. 1979
14. 1990
15. 1978
16. 2001
17. 1999
18. 2004
19. 1998
20. 1985
21. 1997
22. 1995
23. 2011
24. 2002
25. 1991
26. 1996
27. 1989
28. 1982
29. 1977
30. 1981
31. 1993
32. 1994
33. 2000
34. 2008
35. 1980
36. 1976
37. 1992
38. 2009