August 28, 2016

Russell Wilson and You

To be trans is to be alone.

It's feeling like you are different when you are 9. It's getting a clear message from your Dad when he goes SHITHOUSE on a dude at the hardware store who mistakenly thought you were a little girl. Whatever feelings you have are weird, and wrong, and dangerous. You aren't even close to sorting those feelings out, but you know it's a secret you have to conceal at all costs.

It's a cycle of confusion and depression and shame that leaves you feeling horribly isolated and disconnected. You find a thing that makes you feel connected to other people, though. You pour everything you have into it. You learn all you can about it. When you go on a bus trip from the Tri-Cities to Seattle for a Seahawks game when you are 11, you know more about the team than all the adults. You're a snot-nosed little shit who SCREAMS at the Steelers all the way through warm-ups from the Kingdome upper deck, either not knowing or not caring that they can't possibly hear you (You don't remember).

For three hours every fall weekend, you forgot those feelings you were pushing down inside yourself. You lost yourself in something bigger, and felt that connection that eluded you in every other facet of your life. You'd walk on air for days if they won. You'd sink into a deep funk all week after a loss. But you felt SOMETHING. Something other than the doubt you felt about your identity, your personhood, your existence. In fact, it becomes something that you use as a cudgel against those percolating feelings. You weren't like those characters on Jerry Springer. You weren't that girl from The Crying Game. You liked football! How could you be trans if you liked football? What was girly or feminine about that?

You tread water in your life. Jobs and people and relationships come and go, but two things are constant - The rumbling cloud of gender sadness that's always overhead, and your Seahawks. You're 25. You're 30. You're 35. As the rationalizations lose their power, and the sea walls in your psyche crumble, you're terrified. There are some rational reasons for your fear. If you are trans, you fear that you are FUCKED. You're a nerd, so you gather all the imformation you can. What you find out is bracing, to say the least.

You can get fired for being trans. You can get kicked out of your apartment for being trans. You'll likely lose family, friends and more. You read horrifying statistics (disturbing in general, but gobsmackingly catastrophic for trans women of color) - about how the unemployment rates and levels of poverty for trans people are much higher than the general population. About how over half of trans people reported being verbally harassed in public, About how a toxic stew of discrimination, limited resources, and constricted life options led to trans people living with HIV at a rate FOUR TIMES HIGHER than the rest of the population. How FORTY-ONE PERCENT of trans people attempt suicide (compared to 1.6% of the general population). In fact, you are told more than once that being trans is such a treacherous life path that you should only step upon it if it's a choice between that and suicide.

You finally get to a point where you feel like you can try to reconcile all these various parts of yourself. You start living authentically and you find that you CAN be trans and a Twelve. It's glorious. You come out on your blog, and the response is overwhelmingly positive. You start presenting your authentic self just six weeks before the Seahawks finally win a Super Bowl. You're in the house when Sherm tips the ball to Smith. You witness 43-8 and you break down in tears afterwards, feeling like they were waiting for YOU TO BE READY before finally hoisting that Lombardi Trophy.

You notice that slowly but surely, things were changing. You see signs of progress. You see, for the first time, that the President of the United States gives a crap about people like you, and actually does quite a bit to help you out. You're a positive, optimistic sort, so you see things going on a trajectory that bends toward freedom.

But progress provokes backlash, both socially and politically. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, are murdered simply for being themselves at an alarming rate. States like North Carolina pass draconian laws that criminalize people like me using the bathroom, and the official position of the Raleigh government is that you must be "delusional" and unworthy of full citizenship.

Back home, there was an effort to pass a similar law in Washington State. You did what you could. You gave money to the effort to keep that shit off the ballot. And you succeeded! Hooray. But even back in the Evergreen State, there were far too many people marinating in ignorance, hatred, and fear of trans folks. You wondered when the anvil would fall - when would someone on your beloved Seahawks say something brazenly, openly transphobic?

You looked around and saw that far too many NFL players, coaches and owners held retrograde views- some even supported the vile Tangerine Mussolini Donald Trump. Sure, your owner is a huge Democratic donor, your coach supported Obama openly, and one of your defensive superstars backed Bernie - But when would a Seahawk say something disgusting about people like you? It seemed inevitable.

You see on the news that a trans woman of color was murdered right here in Columbus. It hits way too close to home. You go to a vigil for Rae'Lynn Thomas. Your pain is nothing compared to that of her family and friends. You don't face nearly the same discrimination and danger that trans women of color face, but you feel powerless and hopeless. You feel darkness encroaching.

Your favorite player is Russell Wilson. You've always had a thing for quarterbacks, from Dave Krieg to Matt Hasselbeck to the WolfBadger. You love that he PROVED YOU WRONG about him (along with every NFL team that passed on the chance to draft him multiple times). You love how electrifying he is on the field. You think he's handsome and personable. Your kids seem immediately drawn to him. You love that he WINS. He seems to do damn near nothing but win, and he does it with style and flair.

But you worry. He's pretty religious. Sadly, it feels like there's a correlation between certain American flavors of Christianity and transphobic attitudes. He's also very controlled and corporate in terms of his public persona. Was there some hidden reservoir of hate within him that he smartly concealed from a fan base that contains a huge number of LGBT folks and their straight cis allies?

Then you see the piece in Pro Football Talk. With his new wife Ciara, Wilson decided to move his wedding out of North Carolina because of that hateful "bathroom bill" that dehumanized people like me in the Tarheel State. When asked about it, RW3 said “I just believe that Jesus loves all people. That’s honestly what I believe.”

As an activist, part of you wishes that he would have delivered an impassioned rant about the injustice of laws like HB2, but you're still ecstatic. You know that this is still a big deal - Not just to you, but to every trans person who wears College Blue, Wolf Grey, and Action Green. You know that Wilson has roots in North Carolina, and he must not have decided to move his wedding lightly.

YOUR FAVORITE PLAYER DOESN'T HATE PEOPLE LIKE YOU. That might sound like an unbelieveably low bar to clear, but it means everything to you. Can you imagine being a Patriots fan (BARF) and having to root for Trump-loving Brady (BAAAAAAARF)? You trash those plans for buying a Baldwin jersey (Sorry, Angry Doug), because for a good long spell, all you are going to wear is nothing but #3 and #12.

You see that minds are already changing on this. You see the Seahawks Stadium chef who had previously spewed ignorant bile do a near-tearful 180. You feel a little bit of hope again.

You're not alone.

August 17, 2016

Your 2016 Seattle Seahawks Jersey Buying Guide

The Seahawks host their first preseason game of 2016 Thursday night, and I'm sure many of you are agonizing over what new jersey you want to snag and show off on gameday. Thankfully, I'm here to help! While it's perfectly cromulent to go with a #12 Fan jersey, I don't like to have that as the only jersey in my closet - Doing that makes me feel like I'm not sufficiently invested in the players who are currently on the team. I'm in the market for a new jersey myself this year, so let's look at the players you should avoid, and the ones that'll make your fellow 12s say "Damn. That's bad-ass." First, the general information and admonitions...

As usual, let's start with the 1st Commandment of 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. I also feel strongly that there's no compelling reason to opt for the more opulent Nike models. The $100 replicas ("game" jerseys) 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.

Like many of you, I've felt the sting of buying a jersey just to see that player get seriously injured (I for one have a weird thing about not wanting to wear an injured player's jersey) or leave Seattle a year (or less) later. My hope is that with this guide, I'll help you get a jersey that A) will be a good investment for years to come and B) will make you stand out from the crowd a bit.

I love me some Michael Bennett, but his continued (and frankly justified) grousing about his contract situation, coupled with PCJS's fearlessness about cutting loose ANYONE who fucks with their plan or with team chemistry, would make me wait on buying Black Santa's jersey at the moment. I'd also stay away from Brandon Browner. He's not a supreme lock to make the 53-man roster, he's a free agent after the season, and I'm not entirely over the fact that he helped beat us in XLIX. Other notable pending free agents include Steven Hauschka, Luke Willson, Tharold Simon, Christine Michael, Marcus Burley, and Deshawn Shead. I'm excited about Paul Richardson, but I'd still be hesitant to buy his jersey coming off a 2nd consecutive season-ending injury. I have similar concerns about Jimmy Graham. Finally, I just have a general principle against buying rookie jerseys, so I'd avoid snaring any of those at this point. OK - Who SHOULD you buy? Here's the Top 10:

10. Russell Wilson

The face of the franchise. Unquestionably an elite quarterback after the way he scorched the league in the 2nd half of last season. But... if you don't already have a Russell Wilson jersey, you probably don't actually want one all that badly, do you?

9. Kam Chancellor 
I adore Bam Bam Kam. He saved us against Detroit. He caused the takeaway that led to the playoff win in Minnesota. He's the baddest, toughest, most intimidating player around every time he steps onto the field. However, he's injury plagued. He's a free agent after 2017 and his long-term future in Seattle is unclear at this point. Be a bit wary here.

8. Cliff Avril
Unlike his pass-rushing linemate, Avril is under contract through 2018. He racked up nine sacks last season, and remains one of the most fearsome defensive ends in football. As a bonus, Seahawks Stadium isn't at all saturated with #56 jerseys yet - So you'll stand out sporting an Avril jersey.

7. Richard Sherman 
Still the best corner in the game. Still outspoken. Still on a trajectory that ends in Canton, Ohio. Under contract through 2018. Only problem? A LOT of 12s already have his jersey.

6. Earl Thomas
Finally, it looks like Ken Easley might get his bust in the Hall of Fame next year. Someday, Earl Thomas will be the 2nd Seahawks safety to be inducted. He's under contract through 2018 so this is still a great time to buy in on the quiet leader of the Legion of Boom.

5. Bobby Wagner 
Our all-world middle linebacker is at his career peak and is under team control until 2020. If you haven't snapped up a #54 jersey, this is a perfect time to make that leap.

4. Tyler Lockett
Flash was not just a spectacular kick returner in his rookie campaign, but also a shockingly reliable and productive wideout. Big things are rightfully expected of him in 2016 and beyond, and with him under contract through 2018, his jersey would be a wise investment.

3. Thomas Rawls
Contradiction time! You know how I said earlier to steer clear of players coming off injuries? I'm making an exception for Rawls. The kid was an absolute MONSTER in just a handful of starts last season, and I'm convinced that if it wasn't for his ankle injury in Baltimore, we would have advanced to our third straight Super Bowl. He won't be asked to carry the entire load of the running game this season, but he WILL hoist the Lombardi Trophy next February. The ankle issue is the only reason he's not higher on this list.

2. Jon Ryan
Before he got chased off social media by bigots, he was a great follow. He's LGBT-friendly. He's one of the very best punters in the game. He throws touchdown passes in playoff games and taunts the opposing team afterwards. He's Canadian, and thus probably my fake boyfriend Justin Trudeau's favorite NFL player. What's not to love? :)

1. Doug Baldwin
Angry Doug has been a fan favorite for a long time. He burst onto the scene back in 2011 as an undrafted free agent and quickly endeared himself to the 12 Army. I'll never forget an early social media post where he took a picture with a Twelve at Target and was wearing a Seahawks sweatshirt - He wears free clothes he gets from work! NFL players! They're just like us!

He's always been a solid performer, but in the 2nd half of last season he leveled up - He became Russell Wilson's favorite target and scored 14 touchdowns while also notching his first 1000-yard campaign. Now he's locked up until the 2020 season, and I expect us to see him deliver a lot more moments like that game-winning touchdown against Pittsburgh last season. Thus, he's my top choice for a new jersey purchase this season.

Did I miss anyone obvious? Let me know in the comments!

What do you think, sirs?

August 7, 2016

Waking up, Waking up from shutdown

The 2016 NFL season kicks off tonight, and this will be my 20th season as a Seahawks season ticket holder. It's not coincidental that I got season tickets when Paul Allen bought the team. After years of neglect and sabotage from Californian Carpetbagger Ken Behring, Allen was desperate to rebuild a Seahawks fan base that had atrophied through the Forgotten Years of the 1990s. It got so bad that TV blackouts became commonplace (I remember driving outside the blackout zone to be able to watch games WAY too often), and the rare sellouts would happen when a team with a large national fan base rolled into the Kingdome.

Once Referendum 48 passed and Allen took over the franchise, he made a few sections of seats in the south end zone's upper deck rediculously cheap: $10. $200 for a pair of season tickets. I had just graduated from Western that spring, and in celebration of R-48's passage I snapped up a pair of seats in the VERY TOP ROW of the Dome's upper deck. I was staying in Bellingham to get my M.A. in Political Science (mainly because I never really wanted to leave).

I went to games there for only two full seasons. Despite starting off with one of the most humilating losses in franchise history, it wasn't that bad rooting on the Hawks from that perch. I could stand up the whole game if I wanted. There was a little area behind the seats where we could put all our stuff. You could make extra noise by banging on the metal panel behind my seats. OK, it sorta sucks, but I made the best of it. Of course, since we are talking about the tail end of the Dennis Erickson era, I got to see two fustrating 8-8 seasons. Warren Moon, Joey Galloway, Ricky Watters, Chad Brown, and others provided some highlights, but it was a familiar story for the Seahawks: Mediocrity as grey as the paint in our end zones. The arrival of Mike Holmgren in 1999 brought the first playoff home game in 15 years, but it was all too fitting that the Dome's last game was a bowel-churning playoff loss (to a Miami side that would lose by 55 POINTS the following week in the divisonal round).

Then we had two seasons of watching our team flail about in sideways needle rain at Husky Stadium. I had already moved to Columbus for more graduate school (No more degrees to get at Western, sadly), but I would schedule trips home around Seahawks home games as frequently as possible. That's how it's been now for 17 years.

Seahawks Stadium opened in 2002, and that means we've played 14 seasons in the loudest, most beautiful venue in the NFL. In that time, I've seen us go to the playoffs 10 times. I've personally been in the house for 5 playoff wins, including three NFC Championship Game victories. I've watched the franchise completely transform from one seemingly encased in 8-8 amber into FUCKING RAPTOR SQUAD.

Seattle enters the 2016 season with few glaring weaknesses (What happens if Russell Wilson goes down? Will the offensive line adequately protect him? Will they open up running lanes for Thomas Rawls? Will he still be able to dart through them after last December's injury?), and a lethal combination of youth, talent, experience and THIRST for another championship. Ask any Seahawk player, coach, or fan - One shitty half in Charlotte is the only reason last season didn't end in Santa Clara. Even after falling behind 31-0, our imdominable Hawks damn near won anyway. Why all the optimism?

Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin forged some sort of football nerd mind-meld and torched the whole league in the 2nd half of last season. RW3 removed any doubt that he is a true franchise quarterback - One of the top 5 signal callers in the game (I don't care what those bobblehead haters in the football press say). The WolfBadger has an obscene number of dangerous weapons - Beyond Angry Doug, there's also Flash Lockett, Big Game Jermaine, and weirdly half-forgotten Jimmy Graham.

Even with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, the Hawks should still be able to bludgeon the enemy via the running game with Rawls and whichever combination of promising rookies and Christine Michaels claws their way onto the 53-man roster. On defense, the original Legion of Boom has been reunited with the return of Brandon Browner, and it's absolutely likely that Seattle will have Top 5 units on offense, defense and special teams. Seattle's #1 ranking by Football Outsiders going into this season is completely deserved, and I'm calling it now: Next January the Hawks will defeat Pittsburgh to win Super Bowl LI.

I've been thinking a lot about the 49ers of the early 1980s lately. Not just because of their historical run of success, but because Bill Walsh so greatly influenced Pete Carroll. A young Niners team won a Super Bowl ahead of schedule in January 1982, followed by the weirdness of the strike-shortened 1982 season and a narrow loss in the 1983 NFC Championship game to D.C.

In 1984 they achieved an almost unprecedented level of dominance, going 15-1 with the #2 offense and #1 defense in the league. They capped that campaign by flattening Miami in XIX, but their run was far from over, and they'd win a total of four championships over a nine-year stretch. These Seahawks have similar potential.

I plan to share another magical season with all y'all here and over on my twitter feed. The hiatus is over. The Seahawks mean everything to me - But they mean the most when I am connected to my fellow Twelves. Expect much more content in this space over the next few months. Fell free to hit me with questions in the comments and GO HAWKS!!!

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... 

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