July 24, 2014

Your 2014 Seattle Seahawks Jersey Buying Guide

With Seahawks Training Camp kicking off Friday, it's time for our annual look at one of a Twelve's most momentous decisions: Which jersey should I buy? In what manner shall I announce to the world, "I'm the best fan in the game! Don't you ever talk about me!"?

Wearing a Seahawks jersey has never been a "cooler" thing to do. A full 25% of the 20 best-selling NFL jerseys are Seattle models (including, stunningly, #12!), so it's also more challenging than ever to make a bold personal statement with this choice. I'm here to help. I will steer you away from purchases you might regret a few mere months from now, and put you in a position where people might actually say "Woah! Cool jersey!" as you stride about town as a proud Soldier of Twelve.

As usual, let's start with the 1st Commandment of Seahawks jersey ownership: NEVER PUT YOUR JERSEY IN THE DRYER! Dryers kill jerseys! Don't do it under any circumstances. If you abide by this decree your jersey(s) should hold up for a nice, long spell. If possible, wash them on the delicate cycle in cold water by themselves.

For the purposes of this article, I'm setting aside throwbacks, personalized jerseys and #12 jerseys (though I've changed my tune on the #12's over the years. I used to be dead-set against them, but given how precarious roster spots are under PCJS's rule, I can't blame a fan for playing it safe with such a substantial investment). I also feel strongly that there's no compelling reason to opt for the more opulent Nike models. The $100 replicas are plenty expensive enough, and will look sharp for years with proper care. If you are lucky enough to fit into a "youth" size, those are only about $70 (and I found out that Youth XL = Women's L, and that saved me $30). One bit of great news for fans is that NFL Shop has a wider selection of jersey options than I've seen anywhere else. 

Right now I own a blue #12 jersey and a wolf grey Wilson model. Many of you may be looking for another jersey to add to your collection, and I'm hoping to snag a new one when I visit Seattle for Kickoff Weekend. Here's my advice on what jerseys to avoid at all costs, which jerseys are the "safest" bets, and finally which ones will make you stand out (even in a flock of 12s at Seahawks Stadium).

DO NOT BUY: Cliff Avril, Jermaine Kearse, Malcolm Smith, KJ Wright, Byron Maxwell, and Marshawn Lynch.

The first five guys will be free agents after the 2014 season, and it's hard to see how Beast Mode will be in the Seahawks lineup in September 2015, given his age and contract demands. Sadly, the greatest running back in franchise history seems destined to become a salary cap casualty after this season. Lynch has the #11 best selling jersey in America so far this off-season. In a year, a LOT of those people might feel like they didn't get full value for the #24 jersey they plunked down a C-note for.

THE BLUE CHIPS: Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas III, Kam Chancellor.

These are the "safe" investments. Arguably, these are the four best players on the roster, and they are all either locked into contracts until 2018/2019 (The boys in the Legion of Boom) or are GUARANTEED to get a gigantic new deal next season (Wilson). I own a Wilson jersey, and I love it. However, EVERYONE has a Wilson jersey. It's the #2 selling NFL jersey. Sherm is at #5, and ETIII is #20. You can't go wrong with ANY of these. I can't decide if I want a Sherman, a Thomas, or a Chancellor. Unfortunately, you won't stand out wearing any of them. So what are the best choices for someone who wants to stand a bit apart from the crowd, but also wants to rep a great player who will be around for a few years? Here's 12 jerseys for 12s to consider...

12. Paul Richardson (#10)
Seattle's 2nd round pick is a potentially game-breaking talent at WR. His 4.33 40-yard time at the Combine turned a lot of heads, and even if he doesn't break out as a receiver in 2014, he could still compile a substantial highlight reel if he nails down the starting punt returner position in training camp. Still, he's a rookie, and buying a player's jersey before he take an NFL snap seems delusionally optimistic to me.

11. Russell Okung (#76)
10. Max Unger (#60)
I've always loved the idea of buying/wearing a lineman's jersey, but Okung has had trouble staying healthy, and thanks to his hefty cap number, another injury-marred season could get him cut next offseason. If you want a offensive lineman's jersey, Unger is a better choice, if only because of this glorious beard.

9. Brandon Mebane (#92)
8. Zach Miller (#86)
Mebane and Miller are both key contributors. but given that they are both pushing 30 and are free agents after the 2015 season, neither seems like a jersey buy that is striking enough to justify the risk involved.

7. Bruce Irvin (#51)
6. Jeremy Lane (#20)
Like Mebane and Miller, both these players have contracts that expire after the 2015 season. Why are they ranked higher? Lane and Irvin are younger and cheaper, which makes them more likely to stick around. Lane has the added cache of "Legion-of-Boom-ness," which nudges him above Irvin in my eyes.

6. Steven Hauschka (#4)
Hauschka has become one of the NFL's most accurate kickers, and will be in blue, bright green and wolf grey through the 2016 season. But who am I kidding? None of you are going to buy a kicker's jersey. Not after what we went through with The Traitor Josh Brown. Sigh.

5. Christine Michael (#33)
The widespread feeling is that Michael is being groomed to become Marshawn Lynch's replacement, and he's under contract through the 2016 campaign. Yes, I know I scoffed at the idea of buying an unproven player's jersey earlier in this article.. But I'm intoxicated by the idea that he might be Shaun Alexander to Ricky Watters (circa 2001), and I also frivolously think I'd look good in a #33 jersey.

4. Percy Harvin (#11)
Harvin is a Super Bowl hero, a stupendous talent, and is under contract through 2018. The ONLY reason he's not #1 on this list is that I simply don't trust him to stay consistently healthy.

3. Michael Bennett (#72)
2. Bobby Wagner (#54)
Bennett and Wagner might be the two best Seattle defenders outside of the LOB. Bennett just signed a long term deal through 2017, but is four years older than Wagner, who appears to be on a "Career Seahawk" trajectory. They'd both be shrewd, thoughtful choices for the discerning jersey shopper, but who edges them out for the #1 spot on my list?

1. Doug Baldwin (#89)
The former UDFA has become the most reliable 3rd-down receiver Seattle has seen since the days of Steve Largent. He's also now locked down with a long-term deal through the 2016 season. My gut feeling is that Angry Doug will take a HUGE step forward with his move to split end this season. The length of his contract, his relative obscurity outside of the cadre of hard-core Twelves, and his comprehensive awesomeness puts him at the top of my list this season.

What do you think, sirs? Did I miss anything obvious? Let me know!  

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 XLVIII 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?