May 28, 2010

So Long, LenDale... I'm glad I won't have to root for you.

I'd like to think I'm progressive but realistic about homophobia in professional sports- Things are better on this front than they used to be, but still, if you got rid of every Seahawks player that had regressive, retrograde ideas about sexual orientation, we might not be able to field a team.

A long time ago I played football, and the atmosphere on the field and in the locker room was intensely homophobic... A violent, aggressive sport + teenage boys going through puberty and trying to prove their manhood = an anti-gay atmosphere worse than Eddie Murphy Delirious. I'd like to imagine things are better now, but pop into any online game on Xbox Live, and you'll hear "faggot" more than pretty much any other word.

Why do I bring this up? I had let this slip from my memory banks, but a few years back, at the NFL rookie symposium, former player Esera Tualolo addressed the incoming rookies. Tuaolo came out as gay after his playing career, and found a largely respectful audience at the symposium, with one (allegedly) glaring exception:

USC tailback LenDale White, who asked Tuaolo "Is it offensive if I call you a faggot if you are a faggot?" More from the original story:

The tone of the question was not one of genuine curiosity.

"The response from the room was lots of groans and guys were rolling their eyes," Tuaolo said. "It was like guys were saying, 'I'm glad I'm not on his team.' "

Tuaolo's answer to the question was simple: "Anytime you use it negatively, it's just not right."

This isn't WHY the Seahawks cut LenDale White, but I'll admit I'm glad I don't have to root for him this fall. The good news, in my opinion, is that things are changing in the right direction... Someday, openly gay men (and, maybe, gay or straight women) will play in the NFL, just as they are about to be able to serve openly in our armed forces. Who you are romantically inclined toward has nothing to do with your level of skill on the gridiron (or how well you can translate arabic, for example), and I think more people are figuring this out.

Here's the good news... check out this reaction to the incident from a newly minted Seahawk:

Chargers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was in the room when the question was asked, and he called it an “ugly” scene.

“I have tremendous respect for the guy,” Whitehurst said of Tuaolo. “He was kind of living a lie there for a long time, and I guess he had to do it. It definitely must have been tough for him. I think the majority of the players really took to him and accepted the fact that – one thing you learn quickly in the NFL is you don't question anybody who's been there and done it as a player, no matter what it is.”

Now where can I buy a Whitehurst jersey? :)

May 18, 2010

Welcome to the Terrordome: My 1990 Seahawks Story

I just spent a week back home in the Tri-Cities, and it got me thinking about a significant but somewhat forgotten chapter in Seahawks history: the 1990 season.

My 1990 Seahawks story actually starts in December 1989, when I was lucky enough to attend Steve Largent's final NFL game. We all hoped he'd catch 15 balls for 200+ yards and 4 TDs, capped by an OT game-winning touchdown, but the stupid reality ended up being just two catches for #80 in a soul-crushing 29-0 beating. I cried as Largent left the field, and I wondered if my relationship with the Seahawks would ever be the same.

Just like those kids who grew up during the depression and were shocked when they realized that someone other than FDR could be President, in some sense it felt weird to me that the Seahawks franchise would continue to exist without Steve Largent. Largent WAS the Seahawks... not just the best player in team history, but the public face of the franchise as well. If the casual NFL fan knew ANYTHING about the Seahawks (beside trivia about that Boz jackass), they knew about Largent and his All-Pro exploits. After the '89 season ended, the future looked bleak in multiple ways.

In my personal life, I was dealing with my the disintegration of my parents' marriage (which was OK... my Dad was an emotionally distant, immature fucktard who could only really connect to me at all through our common interest in the Seahawks), a lot of other turmoil in my family life, and the grim death march that high school can be for us nerds...

I was a freshman at Richland High School, and I had recently quit football to write for the school paper (the Bombers had little need for a short, slow wide receiver with awful hands). I had dates once in a while, but most of my Saturday nights were spent with Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi. I was also developing an obsession with Public Enemy, which for a white kid in Eastern Washington was... odd. With all this going on in my life, and with the end of the Largent (and Curt Warner) era, my interest in the Seahawks was at a low ebb as the 1990 season began.

Starting the season with a shutout loss in Chicago seemed like a particularly bad omen, and the Hawks followed that pummeling up with losses to the Raiders and Broncos by a total of 7 points. Things just looked dank. The team seemed like a bad combination of faded veterans and young newbies without enough talent to make up for their rookie mistakes.

Then the Twin Peaks intro happened....

Being a total geek, I was obsessed with ABC's new cult hit Twin Peaks... So when Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman popped up in the intro for the Seahawks-Bengals MNF game, my dorkgasm was probably felt miles away. After some trademark weird David Lynch banter, Cooper and Truman lifted their coffee mugs and both said "Go Seahawks!" SquuuuEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

The Seahawks made Yakima native Kyle MacLachlan proud (I assume) with a 31-16 beating of the playoff-bound and previously unbeaten Bengals. It was the beginning of a 7-3 stretch for Seattle, which included the single greatest play/finish in Seahawks history... As I said about that win in this space before:

Thomas couldn't QUITE wrap up Mudbone for that 8th sack, could he? That loss would ultimately cost KC the AFC West title, a home game in the playoffs and a first-round bye. Heh.

My mom let me turn our basement TV room into a "Seahawks Cave" during football season, with posters, banners, newspaper clippings, and so on blanketing the walls.

We were getting ready to move to Kennewick, and that day the realtor was having an open house (yes, my little punk-ass insisted on staying put to watch the Hawks that day rather than, you know, watching the game elsewhere). The whole tribe was packed into the "Seahawks Cave", and when Krieg hit Skansi for the winning TD we all went completely luggage-throwin'-ape-shit. I jumped so high I hit my head on the roof of the basement, and the realtor came running downstairs thinking that we were murdering each other... All we could do was scream incoherently and point at the TV. We didn't get any offers on the house that day, obviously.

Fun fact: after that joyous day in 1990, the Seahawks would lose 14 out of their next 15 games against the Chiefs. That single win in 1994? By one goddamn point.

The Hawks would then scratch out a pair of 13-10 wins over the Chargers and Oilers, and.... wait to be shocked.... WIN A GAME AT LAMBEAU FIELD IN DECEMBER! Derrick Fenner emerged out of nowhere as a more than adequate replacement for Curt Warner, and John L. Williams was busy earning a Pro Bowl roster spot and leading the Seahawks in receptions. As Xmas approached, the Seahawks were 7-7 and still alive for a playoff spot, and the Broncos were coming to town for SNF on ESPN.

Sure, Denver was a pathetic 4-10, but Mr. Ed was still under center, and radiating waves of hate buffeted the Broncos as usual. Also, as usual, weirdness was in store: On the final play, Elway rolled out and fired a hail-mary into the back of the end zone. Michael Young snagged the ball off a deflection, and tapped two feet in bounds.... Touchdown! Broncos win! Seahawks choke! Ehhh... not so much. Coach Knox smugly pointed to the flag laying on the Kingdome astroturf: Illegal motion on Denver. Game over. Seahawks win!

Almost a year to the day after I said goodbye to Steve Largent with 64,000 of my closest friends, I returned to the Dome with my love for the Seahawks rekindled. A win would keep Seattle alive for the playoffs (but they'd need Pittsburgh to beat Houston in the SNF game too), and the electric Barry Sanders was coming to town with the rest of the Lions in tow.

The tandem of Fenner/JLW clearly outplayed the NFL's leading rusher, as Sanders was held to only 23 yards while the Seahawks piled up 151 yards rushing. The Seattle defense sacked Detroit QBs 5 times, and Eugene Robinson scooped up a fumble and returned it for a TD... A tie game at the half became an easy 30-10 Seahawks win, and the Twelve Army was sent home happy but nervous...

I had the particularly terrible experience of listening to Seattle's playoff dreams die on the long, treacherous drive over the pass and back to the Tri-Cities. Houston pounded the Steelers 34-14, which meant that the 9-7 Oilers and Bengals made the playoffs despite the fact that both teams lost to the 9-7 Seahawks (The Bengals won the AFC central, and Houston had a better conference record that the Seahawks and the 9-7 Steelers). Grrr.

In spite of the frustrating finale, the '90 Hawks reminded me why I loved the team in the first place: Not because of any particular player, but because no matter what else was going on in my life, they would be there for me on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes, amazing things would happen, and bring me closer to folks who shared my passion for the Hawks.

It's never been "just a game" for us, has it? What are your memories of the 1990 Seahawks?

May 4, 2010

Bill Leavy: Roethlisberger's Enabler

Alright, first go read this...

Done? Wish you could unread it, don't you? Wish you could give your brain a nice, long, hot shower? Me too.

Here's the thing: If Bill Leavy and his minions hadn't handed Super Bowl XL to Roethlisberger and those other Yinzer fuck-sticks, none of this may have happened. A fairly called XL probably ends with a Seattle victory, and Big Ben's career in tatters.

Pishaw, you say? Let's not forget how fucking awful Roethlisberger played in XL. Two interceptions and a 22.6 QB rating. Worse than Tony Eason. Worse than Rex Grossman. Worse than... GASP! Neil O'Donnell.

Let's keep it simple. That ticky-tack hold isn't called on Sean Locklear. On the next play, Shaun Alexander punches it in from the 1, and the Seahawks take a 17-14 lead. On the ensuing possession, Marcus Trufant ices Seattle's first Super Bowl victory by stepping in front of another errant pass from Big Ben and returning it 75 yards for a touchdown. 24-14 is the final. Seattle wins, Pittsburgh loses, and Steelers Nation is out for blood.

Instead of being treated like royalty, Big Ben is heckled in public, seen as responsible for ANOTHER Pittsburgh Super Bowl failure. He is given no slack by the public or the media, which leads to one of two outcomes: He is forced to de-turd himself, and his advisors convince him to pursue more home-bound hobbies like playing Madden on XBOX Live, etc.... OR, he continues down the same path he would have anyway, but without the cloak of a Super Bowl win protecting him, he is run out of town post-haste and plays out the remainder of his career scuffling and struggling in Oakland.

On top of everything else, Bill Leavy, now we know you're in some small way responsible for a probable raper running around free.


May 2, 2010

Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, You are on Notice.

Here is what every Seahawks fan should be very happy to see in 2010...

-Behind a revamped offensive line, Matt Hasselbeck puts together a season more like 2007 than 2009. He starts 13-16 games, and when he can't go, Charlie Whitehurst shows that he can lead this team and win some games.

-The 2010 Seahawks draft class has way more hits than misses, and ideally Okung and Thomas start down the path of being the next Big Walt and Ken Easley.

-The RB committee of JJ, Young Nastyman, Lendale and Leon (The Professional) revives Seattle's running game as a legitimate threat.

-John Carlson explodes into his prime with an All-Pro level season.

-Aaron Curry justifies his massive contract by concussing an assload of opposing QBs, Lofa Tatupu returns to form, and Leroy Hill gets his head surgically removed from his rump.

-Housh and Branch stay healthy and productive, Tate scares other teams to death with a handful of big plays, and Deon Butler proves that he deserves a roster spot.

-The team finishes 8-8.

Yeah, I said it... We should all dance jaunty little jigs if the Hawks win half their games. An improvement of three games is significant, and would show the Twelve Army that the Carroll era is off to a solid start...

But some folks out there (you know who you are), are pretty much rooting for the Seahawks to fail. Why? Because they are UW fans who have raging mega-hard boners for Jake Locker.

You know what? Fuck Jake Locker.

I don't give a shit about him, and I give even less of a poop-mound about the Huskies. Yeah, if the Seahawks implode this fall, we'll clearly need to use a high draft pick on a QB. But I'd want THE BEST QB FOR THE SEAHAWKS... be it Locker, Ryan Mallet, or some other rock-slingin' young'n.

If you truly want Jake Locker that badly... so badly that you openly or secretly want the Seahawks to fail this season... We don't need you on Sundays. You can put on your purple gear, hang out by the lake, watch that minor-league NCAA product, and stay the hell away from Qwest Field.

We are on the verge of great things. We are about to witness the first chapter of another great Seahawks saga... Knox, Holmgren, Carroll. Easley, Robinson, Thomas... and so on... and NONE of that bright future depends on getting one specific guy from the local college to play quarterback in 2011.

Who the fuck is with me?