March 23, 2016

"Is that your boyfriend's jersey?" Sexism, Transmisogyny, and the Trials of being the 12th Woman

I just renewed my Seahawks season tickets for the 20th consecutive season. I'm tremendously excited and hopeful about the upcoming campaign, which I am certain will end in Houston will Russell Wilson hoisting another Lombardi Trophy. The face value of my south end zone tickets has climbed from $10 back in the Kingdome in 1997 to $55 in Seahawks Stadium in 2016... But they are still worth every penny. I'll be there for 2 or 3 games as usual this season (hopefully including another NFC Championship Game), and there's nothing I'm looking forward to over the next year than those trips back to Washington State to commune with my fellow 12s. But... Something has been weighing on my mind lately...

It's not easy being a woman who loves pro football. On a societal level, it's damn near impossible to disentangle the league from the sexism and misogyny that permeate our culture. There's the relative tolerance for domestic abuse. There's the mistreatment of women who are club employees. There's the lack of women in executive and coaching positions in the league (which doesn't even include the assumption that no women will ever play in the NFL- An assumption I believe is intellectually lazy to the core). There's the hamhanded/bordering-on-offensive attempts to pander to women Ugh. I could go on, but... Ugh.

On a individual level, it can get ridiculous. Men will see your Seahawks gear and ask you if you actually like the team, or if you just like the colors (Or they will ask you if it's your boyfriend's jersey). Men assume that you know NOTHING about your team, or about the sport. Demonstrate that you are actually more knowledgeable than they are, and out comes the salt shaker. Recently I was out with a group that included a male Broncos fan, and when he realized that I knew more about John Elway's career than he did, his attitude toward me got tart and sour instantly.

The league and bros in general seem puzzled that women can (and do) enjoy America's most popular sport. Forty-five percent of the league's U.S. television audience consists of women, but yet we are treated like interlopers or less-than-authentic oddities at Super Bowl parties, in fantasy football leagues, etc.

Less than authentic. As a trans woman, I know ALL about being seen as less than authentic. It's tough enough being a woman that loves football. Being a trans woman and liking football layers transphobia upon misogyny (or, as we call it in the business: transmisogyny). For one thing, the culture of the NFL is still pretty overtly hostile to the LGBT population of this country. One can just look at the public and private reactions to Michael Sam coming out as gay, or at the persistent panic among NFL teams that a single gay player might join their team (even though there are certainly closeted gay men playing in the NFL).

I've noticed an interesting recurring issue whenever someone finds out that I'm trans AND an NFL fan. First, people tend to assume that I'm ONLY an NFL fan because I was designated male at birth, and my Seahawks fandom is some sort of artifact of that. You can kind of see the light bulb go off in their heads "Ahh! That's why." This irks me for a couple of reasons: Millions of cis-gender women are NFL fans, and have been fans since childhood (shout-out to my Vikings-affiliated grad school bestie Natalie on this tip). Also, this fucked-up mentality helped delay my transition for YEARS. For the longest time, I thought "Well, I can't be trans if I love FOOTBALL." Even after I got over that, I was TERRIFIED that if and when I did transition, I would stop loving the Seahawks. Thankfully, I got over that shit and I even got to celebrate Super Bowl XLVIII as my authentic self.

There is often a vibe I get that I SHOULDN'T like football, even from other trans women. Weirdly, it makes some people think that I'm not entirely serious about my transition, or they think it makes me "less trans." One of the most important personal discoveries I've made is that it's OK to transition in my own idiosyncratic way, in part because there is no "one" right way to be a woman, and thus no single "correct" way to transition or to be a trans woman.

Still, unless I want to completely sequester myself from society (and as a Hillary Clinton-supporting, Target-shopping, Starbucks-sipping basic suburban bitch, that's not really an option for me), I must navigate a culture that is incredibly hostile to trans women, despite recent increases in visibility and some improvements in our legal status. There's the constant possibility that pop culture I consume might contain transphobic content (which... holy shit, even in 2016 it's EVERYWHERE). If it's something I've never watched, or something I didn't have a lot of interest in anyway, it's easy enough to avoid. It's much harder when that transphobic content shows up in something I otherwise love, and thenI have to then decide if I can forgive these sins (Archer, Bob's Burger's, Arrested Development, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia immediately come to mind, but there's always more).

Beyond cultural transphobia, there's the growing wave of transphobic legislation that's swamping people like me around the country. Back home in Washington State, there's an ongoing effort to get a measure on the November ballot that would make it illegal for me to use the bathroom the next time I go home for a Seahawks game (Don't sign the petition for it, by the way. Please keep that garbage from even making it onto the ballot).

Now we drill down to my most unspeakable fear. I know that Seahawks players, coaches, and executives might hold political opinions I disagree with. I accept this, but I just hope they won't say anything unconscionably abhorrent. I can handle a player I love being a Republican- I did that with Matt Hasselbeck for a decade, and I still adore the guy. Conversely, when someone like Michael Bennett comes out as a Bernie Sanders supporter, my heart soars. I'm afraid, particularly if that garbage bill makes it to the November ballot, that some Seahawks player might start spouting off with some virulently transphobic sewage. We're already seeing an outpouring of support for Donald Trump among current and former pro athletes, and he's leading an authoritarian political movement that seeks to restore a social and political order where people like me were at best invisible or at worst, umm, murdered. A lot.

So what would I do if some Seahawks player came out and said that I shouldn't be able to go to the bathroom in peace? What if they denied my basic personhood? Could I keep rooting for them? Could I keep rooting for the team they play for? I fervently hope I never find out. Being a Twelve is a CENTRAL part of my identity as a person, almost as central as my identity as a trans woman. It's connected me to my home, to my friends, to my family. It's been an island of consistency in my chaotic life. There is no institution I love more, or that I care about more, than the Seattle Seahawks.

How could I deal with something I love telling me that I don't count? That I don't matter? That I am hated?

If I'm lucky, I'll never have to find out.

January 13, 2016

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Panthers!

In my three-plus decades of Twelving, I've never been more confident that the Seahawks would win a road playoff game than I am going into the divisional playoff at Charlotte. Before the 2012 Wild Card Game, I was jittery because we hadn't won a road playoff game since 1983. Before last week, I was anxious because of the historically terrible weather conditions. 

This week? I'm not jittery or anxious. I look at a Panthers team that is perhaps the shakiest 15-1 team in NFL history and I don't feel a single twitch of fear. I see a Seattle team that will be relaxed, at full-strength, and has a SHITLOAD of recent success playing the Panthers in Charlotte. I see a stifling Seahawks defense eager to prove their meltdown in week 6 was an aberration. I see a Seattle quarterback who is surely, silently itching to show HE is the one who should be the presumptive NFL MVP.

I think we roll in a game that is less competitive than many are expecting. Seahawks 26, Panthers 14 feels about right. By Sunday evening we'll be one step closer to the restoration of the Emerald Empire...

We've played the Panthers 10 times, and won 7 of those battles... Here's a look back at the Top 5. Enjoy! 

Seattle was a trendy Super Bowl pick going into the 2013 season amongst the national media, and Russell Wilson's handsome visage was splashed across the covers of The USA Today, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and (I assume) British Vogue and Art Doll Quarterly. But then, as if the national bobbleheads had come to their senses after an ether binge, it became trendy to pick the Panthers as an "upset special" over the favored Seattleites in Week 1. Hey! Seattle has trouble in season openers! Hey! They suck at winning on the east coast, particularly with kickoff at 10 a.m. pacific time! Hey! They're the Seahawks! History tells us we won't have to pay attention to them much longer. They'll inevitably disappoint. Pick Carolina!

In the sweltering North Carolina heat, the Hawks indeed got off to a sluggish start. But when Wilson fired a perfect spiral to Jermaine Kearse for a 43-yard touchdown, Seattle held a 12-7 lead with 10 minutes left. The Panthers answered with an impressive 9-play, 72-yard march down to the Seahawks' 8-yard line. Then the L.O.B. did its thing- Earl Thomas wrested the ball away from DeAngelo Will1iams' mitts and disaster was averted. With five-plus minutes left, the offense needed to play keep-away to seal the win. 

The drive got off to an abysmal start when Marshawn Lynch was tackled for a 5-yard loss. But Wilson followed that up with completions to Derrick Coleman and Doug Baldwin to keep the drive alive. Wilson and Lynch teamed up on a 14-play drive than ran out the rest of the clock and started Seattle's march towards XLVIII with a hard-fought victory. 

The Seahawks were 3-3 and skidding through a 2-game losing streak. This was about when ESPN was filled with stories about Russell Wilson not being "black enough," and so on. It seemed like it would all come crumbling down with one more hard shove, with one more calamitous defeat. Seattle trailed 9-6 with just over four minutes left to play, On the ensuing 10-play, 80-yard drive, Wilson would complete passes to Cooper Helfet, Kevin Norwood, and Paul Richardson before drilling a touchdown strike to Luke Willson to give Seattle a 13-9 lead with only 53 seconds remaining. Back-to-back sacks by Bruce Irvin sealed the win, and yet again the Hawks wriggled out of the noose. 

Whenever I get too arrogant about my opinions related to our beloved Seahawks, remind me that I wanted Russell Wilson benched early in the 2012 season. I hadn't even wanted him to take on the starting job in the first place, and after an ugly performance/loss in St. Louis dropped Seattle to 2-2, I was more than ready to see Wilson get the hook in favor of Matt Flynn. 

I'm a dumbass. 

After a Charlotte pick-6 gave the Panthers the lead early in the 2nd half, I seethed with misplaced rage. Wilson actually had a solid day other than that, and found Golden Tate for the go-ahead score late in the 3rd quarter... But the story of this victory was authored by the defense, who allowed Cam Newton and the Cats to get all the way down to Seattle's 6-yard line. 1st and Goal. 18 feet from defeat. 

1st down: Newton stopped after a 3-yard gain. 

2nd down: DeAngelo Williams dropped for a loss of 3. 

3rd down: Brandon Browner and Marcus Trufant (Yes, for reals. He was still a Hawk in 2012) stop Louis Murphy just shy of the goal line. 

4th down: Less than a yard away. Instead of trying to score with their massive, agile QB, a pass is called. It falls incomplete. Seattle takes over inches from their own goal line with just 3 minutes left to play. 

What followed was an odd 7-play, 17-yard drive that ended in an intentional safety. Huh? Bruce Irvin settled matters with a sack-strip-recovery 2 plays later, and I was ecstatic to be proven wrong. 

Holy shit! Can you believe that the Hawks only led the 7-8-1 Panthers 14-10 going into the 4th quarter of this one? The Seahawks seemed to restore order when they built a 24-10 lead with 6 minutes left, but Charlotte promptly drove down to the Seattle 13-yard-line. Then Kam Bam'd and Bam'd... 

As I wrote at the time: 

Five years ago, Pete Carroll was hired as the Seahawks new head coach. He inherited a roster that was Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (so to speak). One seemingly small move in Carroll's complete demolition/rebuild of the Seahawks in 2010 was the 5th round selection of a safety out of Virgina Tech: Kam Chancellor. Seattle's starting safeties in 2009 were the serviceable duo of Jordan Babineaux and Deon Grant (whose average age was 28.5). Just like at every other position, Carroll's goal was to get younger/better/cheaper in the defensive backfield. Expectations were high for first-rounder Earl Thomas from Texas, but the former high school quarterback Chancellor slid into the 5th. The move into the secondary served Kam well with the Hokies, and he'd quickly build a reputation for wanton brutality once he reached the NFL. 

Bam Bam Kam has already made his mark in the league, being selected to three Pro Bowls, being named 2nd-team All-Pro twice, and surely haunting Vernon Davis' nightmares (among dozens of other offensive players). However, yesterday Chancellor delivered the best performance of his already illustrious career. He made 11 tackles, including an incredible individual effort to blow up a screen pass to DeAngelo Williams and a first down-denying hammering of sentient boulder Mike Tolbert. A bewildering flag denied him credit for an acrobatic blocked field goal at the end of the first half. With Charlotte deep in Seattle territory, and aiming to pull within 7 with six minutes left, Chancellor jumped the route and sped 90 yards for the clinching score.

A quick personal story about this one... 

I was at the game, and I was unfathomably nervous and jacked-up on Red Bull beforehand. I was in Touchdown City and they had this little obstacle course set up where you'd jump over a couple of hurdles and then take down a tackling dummy. When my turn came up I SPRINTED through the course and came at the dummy so hard that I actually flew over it and ended up face-planting ala Jon Ryan last week. I got up, dazed and a bit horrified. Someone handed me a free t-shirt. I was probably concussed. I was lucky I didn't knock out my teeth or end up watching the NFC Championship from an emergency room. 

Here I am after almost ruining everything: 

Here's my brother and I after the Seahawks clinched their first trip to the Super Bowl.. I cried a lot. 

So um... Yeah. Lots of changes since then... 

Would You Like To Know More? 

January 11, 2016

Seahawks 10, Vikings 9

The best team won.

The team that gained more yards? They won.

The team that held the league's best running back to 45 yards on 23 carries? They won.

The team that fought back from a 9-point fourth-quarter deficit on the road not only in a hostile environment, but in one unfit for human habitation? They won.

The team with the better quarterback, whose improvisational skills turned a broken play into a season-saving masterpiece? They won.

The team with the receiver that did this? They won.                                                                                                            

The team with the future Hall-of-Fame safety who did this? They won. 

Sure, Blair Walsh should have made that kick. But that miss didn't take place on a holodeck. It happened in the most pressure-packed of situations- and not long after Richard Sherman came within nanometers of blocking an earlier kick. Snapper, holder and kicker were all likely thinking about that. The entire battery felt the weight of that moment. And they collapsed, burying Minnesota's season in frigid, jagged rubble. 

The popular imagination wants to distill the entire result down to that single moment, ignoring what the Seahawks did in order to be up by one with seconds remaining. The only Minnesota points on Sunday came after Seahawks miscues set the Vikings up with great field position. It would have been ridiculously easy for any visiting team playing in Sunday's inhumane, laughable conditions to fold after what befell the Seahawks early on. Lesser teams could have reacted to ANY ONE of a botched punt, a failed 4th-down conversion, or a 3rd-quarter drive-killing interception with slow-motion surrender. ALL THREE of those things happened to the Hawks, on top of their superstar running back (Marshawn Lynch) suddenly taking himself out of the starting line up on Friday. 

Negative six degrees. Down by nine. No Beast. No hope, right? 

There was a moment where even I thought "Shit. It's over." Early 4th quarter. The shotgun snap flies right past Russell Wilson's head and skitters 15 yards in the wrong direction. The prudent play? Fall on the ball. Even that probably would have been a drive-killer, and would have ended up burning precious minutes off the clock before Seattle got the ball back. With FIVE Vikings defenders closing, RW3 got up off the ground, scrambled right, and fired a pass downfield to Tyler Lockett an instant before getting absolutely blasted. 35-yard gain. Seattle was in position to score the games's lone touchdown. After Wilson once again found Doug Baldwin in the end zone, the Hawks were within 2. 

The Vikings decided to rely on their one true superstar to close out the win. They went to Adrian Peterson on the next two plays. Peterson is one of the best rushing talents the NFL has ever seen, but for the 2nd time in just over a month, he was absolutely embarrassed by the Legion of Boom. Kam Chancellor straight-up stole the ball out of Peterson's grip and set up Seattle for the go-ahead field goal (a 46-yarder absolutely DRILLED by Steven Hauschka- with assists from Clint Gresham and a bloodied-but unbowed Jon Ryan). 

The teams traded punts until the final two minutes. One more defensive stop would send the Seahawks to Charlotte for the NFC Divisional Playoff. Then a questionable pass interference call against Kam. Then Chancellor got beat by Kyle Rudolph to set the Vikings up well within Blair Walsh's range. I sank. I fell silent. I started composing the blogging equivalent of a concession speech in my head. The best-case scenario felt like getting the ball back with 20 seconds left and no time-outs. No chance. 

But the defense realized something I didn't: If they allowed a touchdown, defeat would be ensured. Hold them to a field goal try, and there was some tiny probability of survival. One last time, the Seattle defenders rose up, and they stopped Peterson just short of the sticks on 3rd down. Next, the formality of Walsh's winning kick. 

Here's a great article about why Walsh missed... The images will stay stamped into our brainpans forever: Sherm collapsed on the field. John Schneider kissing Pete Carroll and all but saying "Keep it. It suits you." Mike Morgan sprinting, arms splayed outward, in triumph. Michael Bennett standing in stunned silence after perhaps the best performance of his dominant career.  

Victory. Once again, Pete Carroll's Seahawks found some way to win when most of America was watching. For reference, here I am before the game, compared to right after Walsh's miss: 

I've seen some crazy shit in my 32 years of Twelving. I've seen last second wins at Arrowhead. I've seen Jay Feeley miss FOUR field goals in the 4th quarter and OT. I've seen Romo drop the snap. I've seen BeastQuakes. I've seen the greatest 4th-quarter comeback in NFC Championship Game history. If these Seahawks go on to win the Super Bowl, Walsh's miss will go down as one of the most important moments in franchise history... But NEVER forget this: This was a game the Seahawks RICHLY deserved to win. 

It's off to North Carolina to play the Paper Panthers, who have seemed ripe for a beatdown for the last few weeks. Bobby Wagner and Jeremy Lane didn't play when Charlotte edged us back in October, and Seattle's offense wasn't the mutant juggernaut it evolved into over the second half of the season. 

I'm ready for this. So are the Seahawks. It will be a meat-grinder of a game, and a stomach-churning three-plus hours for all us 12s- But Seattle will survive and advance. Why? 

Because the best team is going to win. 

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January 4, 2016

Seahawks 36, Cardinals 6

They thought it was over. 

The back-up quarterback danced on the sideline like a kid hopped up on Pixy Stix. The starting quarterback crotch-chopped the Seahawks Stadium crowd like he had just won the PBA Championship. They treated escaping Seattle with a narrow win after blowing a 19-point-lead like they had just killed the bad guy, gotten the girl, and saved the world. 

To be honest, at the time I thought they might have been right. I felt nauseous after that loss. It felt worse than the collapses against Cincinnati and Charlotte. It felt like a fulcrum, and in a bad sort of way. I'm very much a "don't give up until mathematical elimination" sort of girl, but after losing to our bitter divisional rivals and falling to 4-5, 2015 felt destined to be an unpleasant footnote in Seahawks history ala 1985: An aberrant stumble into mediocrity by a supremely talented team. 

Then, the completion of a sweep of the execrable 49ers, followed by a rousing victory over the loathsome but lethal Steelers. The benching (and release) of Cary Williams helped. The offensive line coalescing into collective greatness helped. The emergence of Thomas Rawls helped. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin suddenly becoming drift compatible? That helped a LOT. Seattle tore through Minnesota, Baltimore, and Cleveland. They dropped a weird decision to the otherwise ordinary Rams, and entered Sunday's game at Glendale against the surging Cardinals at 9-6. 

Arizona boasted one of the NFL's best offenses, led by legitimate MVP candidate Carson Palmer. They also had plenty to play for, given that they still had a chance at securing home field through the playoffs at kickoff. The Seahawks were missing five key starters, and were 6-point underdogs according to Las Vegas. 

The Seahawks proceeded to go at everyone's trendy Super Bowl pick with steel wool and rusty straight razors. Seattle ran out to a 30-6 halftime lead before their beret-wearing fake-ass coach cried uncle and pulled Palmer from the game before Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril could split him in twain. 

The defense, maligned by so many all season, ended up leading the league in scoring defense for the 4th consecutive year. Deshawn Shead and Kelcie McCray have filled in capably in the secondary, and Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are playing dominant football- But this defense has become absolutely smothering against the run. They only allowed Arizona 27 rushing yards, and no defense in the NFL has allowed fewer yards on the ground than Seattle this season. While the Legion of Boom remains dangerous, it's the front seven that is now the biggest strength of the Seahawks defense. 

The Seahawks have the best defense in football. Based on the last two months, they might have the best offense, too. Despite losing first Marshawn Lynch and then Thomas Rawls, the Hawks have still run the ball effectively. Christine Michael has seemingly resuscitated his career, running for 102 yards on 17 carries yesterday (his 2nd highly effective performance in 3 weeks). Doug Baldwin wrapped up easily the finest season of his career, scoring 14 TDs and going over 1000 yards receiving for the first time. Tyler Lockett had another stunning outing, shredding Arizona's punt coverage team over and over and making tough, important veteran catches like.. well... Doug Baldwin. Even Jermaine Kearse has become a reliable target for Russell Carrington Wilson. 

Wilson? He's just ascending faster than the Ares IV MAV whisking poor ketchup-deprived Mark Watney from the Martian surface. He just had the best season ANY Seahawks quarterback has ever had, my 12s, 34 touchdowns. 4000+ yards passing. Only 8 picks. A QB rating of 110. Oh.. and over 500 yards rushing. NO ONE is playing the position better than the WolfBadger right now. Not Carson Palmer. Not Tom Brady. Not Cam Newton. Nobody. 

So Seattle is now the 6 seed in the NFC. They'll have to win in Minneapolis, Charlotte and (probably) Glendale to get to Super Bowl 50. It seems improbable, but the 2010 Packers won the title from EXACTLY this position- and these Seahawks are a demonstrably better team. These Seahawks have also won five straight road games. They are talented, confident and battle-tested. You'll hear about how it's going to be 12 degrees in Minnesapolis Sunday. Who gives a fuck? They could play this game in a clearing on Starkiller Base and it wouldn't affect this team. 

The Seahawks have the best defense. They have the best offense. They have the best quarterback. And, oh hi Marshawn... They'll have the best playoff running back since Emmitt Smith on the field Sunday, too. 

Turns out that it's not over, is it? 

Would You Like To Know More? 

December 8, 2015

Breaking the Surface, Tasting the Air

(Me at noon and at 3 pm last Sunday) 

For the second time in ten months, I got to experience a team I love reaching the Championship- Only to end up watching the enemy celebrate. Columbus Crew SC fell in the MLS Cup 2-1 to Portland Timbers FC. For me, there were (faint) echoes of Super Bowl XL in the horrible officiating that went against the Crew and in Columbus' weirdly flat, error-sprinkled performance.  It was a crushing disappointment and a stressful way to spend a beautiful, unseasonably warm December afternoon.

This was a big deal to me- For the first time since I was 8 years old, I was missing a significant chunk of a Seahawks' non-preseason, non-replacement game. My girlfriend and I are both rabid Crew SC supporters, and my Christmas present to her (and to myself) was a day at the MLS Cup (and what was supposed to be a rare Non-Ohio State-related Championship moment for the Arch City). I had experienced three NFC Championship Game victories at Seahawks Stadium, and I was hoping (and honestly kind of expecting) a similar dizzying high on Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium... But it wasn't meant to be.

(My girlfriend and I at the MLS Cup)

Even at the MLS Cup, I couldn't escape Twelvedom. I saw a Timbers FC supporter wearing a Seahawks hat, and for an instant I wanted to bond with him over that... But I was stopped cold by two startling realizations:

1. It would have been a bizarre "breaking of the 4th wall," so to speak. I was there to root for Columbus, not be chummy with the enemy's supporters.

2. I wasn't wearing any Seahawks gear, which while appropriate, suddenly left me feeling absolutely naked when I realized I was in the presence of another 12.

When the final whistle blew after an unfathomably frustrating 90-plus minutes of soccer, I consoled myself with two thoughts: "At least the Seahawks won!" and "At least I didn't miss anything that affected the outcome in Minneapolis!"

Before we headed to MAPFRE, my girlfriend and I ducked into a nearby sports bar to catch the first half of the Seahawks game (Well, I was watching the Seahawks- My girlfriend was engrossed by Carrie Brownstein's memoir. And with good reason! We had just been to the Sleater-Kinney show the night before, and that got her good and hooked on all things S-K-related). By the time we had to leave for the match, Seattle had already built a 14-0 lead. Given that the Hawks would end up pummeling the Vikings 38-7, it turned out that I got to see the "winning" touchdown run by Russell Wilson.

I know that when and how and if I watch the Seahawks on TV doesn't impact the outcome of the games, but I would have felt horribly guilty anyway if the Hawks had lost after I stopped watching. Thanks for letting me off the hook, boys!

I'll leave detailed descriptions of the entire game to the immensely talented Brian Nemhauser, but I do want to mention one thing that leapt out at me early in the game. Russell Wilson's perfect pass and spectacular catch in traffic by Tyler Lockett was punctuated by a helmet-to-helmet flag that set up a later touchdown. That was ALL gold, but did you see Richard Sherman run down the sideline and FREAK THE FUCK OUT celebrating the catch and congratulating Flash? It reminded me of all the times the defense lost their damn minds on the sidelines during/after punishing touchdown sprints by Marshawn. The Legion of Boom fed off the toughness and explosiveness of Lynch and the offense during the crazy-hot streaks during the 2012 and 2014 stretch runs, and we're starting to see something similar brewing now. Not only are the Seahawks clicking, but they are very clearly back to a total commitment to playing FOR each other- And that should terrify the rest of the NFL.

The defense just throttled the best running game (outside of Seattle) in the NFL. They might just be back their natural state as an immovable object festooned in jagged spikes and razor wire. The offense? Holy FUCK. No one is playing better at QB than Russell Carrington Wilson right now. Get a 50-yard TD run called back on a holding flag? Just throw a 50-yard TD on the next play (to Doug Baldwin, who is blossoming into the league's most underrated wideout). Thomas Rawls' emergence continued, and defensive coordinators from Charlotte to Glendale must be losing sleep now that they are confronted with the possibility that they'll have to scheme for Wilson, Rawls. Baldwin, Lockett AND a healthy/HANGRY Marshawn Lynch.

Seattle's next three opponents have a combined record of 10-26. The Hawks should hit Glendale in week 17 at 10-5 (and hopefully with the 5th NFC seed already clinched). It's now PROBABLE that the Seahawks will get the top Wild Card slot and visit a 7-9ish NFC East Champ in the 1st round of the tournament. Charlotte's prize for 16-0 might be a rematch with a Seattle side VASTLY improved since the Panthers edged the befuddled OctoberHawks. Arizona might end up regretting all that shit-talking and crotch-chopping from last month if they are unlucky enough to host us in the NFCCG.

After the MLS Cup, my girlfriend was nearly inconsolable. I comforted her by telling her it was OK to be upset, that it was good to feel things so intensely, even if those feelings come from defeat. I told her I was the one sobbing back in February, and she might need to comfort ME after a season-ending Seahawks loss in the not-too-distant future.

But... Maybe not? They really might not lose again this season. And that consolation reciprocity might have to wait until next winter (if then).

Until then, this song's for her....

Throw me a rope, give me a leg
I haven't seen daylight in what must be day
I took the long way down, lost track of myself
Confidence fell down the steepest of slopes
I'll row you an ocean, I could do more
I feel so much stronger, now that you're here
We've got so much to do, let me make that clear

We win, we lose, only together do we break the rules
We win, we lose, only together do we make the rules

I'm breaking the surface, tasting the air
I'm reaching for things like never before
The anchor is heavy, I can't hold the weight
The guilt holds me down, won't let me be myself
Suck it all in, suck it all up
Let go of thoughts holding me back
I'll push twice as hard towards it you see
And the past falls away to the bottom of the deep

When we leave say goodbye to your old way of life
I can breathe way up high now it's our turn to fly