June 21, 2011

I'm Calling it Seahawks Stadium

Two years ago, when the New York Mets moved into their new ballpark, many folks, including Mets Fan/Uni Watch blogger Paul Lukas, were displeased with the new park's name. Lukas decided that he would simply ignore the name "Citi Field," and continue calling it Shea Stadium.

Thus, the "I'm Calling it Shea" movement was born... The slogan ended up on a T-shirt, the idea caught on in other cities, and a whole bunch of T-shirts have been sold.

Now, it's official: The Seahawks will no longer play at Qwest Field, starting this fall. I already covered this back in March, but this seems like a good time to revisit the issue. I don't think this is some grave injustice or anything- Corporate names on stadiums have been around forever, and will be with us for the foreseeable future... But we don't have to play along. We don't have to rewire our brains every time a company gobbles up another one. They count on the fact that even those of us who piss and moan about the new name on the stadium will eventually wear down, give in, and start calling it what we are supposed to. Hell, maybe we'll even give it a cute nickname like "The CLink" (Barf).

But we can keep it simple. We can call it what it was called before it was even built, and what it was called from 2002-2004: Seahawks Stadium. Many Sounders FC fans already call it "Royal Brougham Park," so why can't the Twelve Army slap it's own nickname onto the arena?

We paid for the stadium. We pay to sit in the stadium and watch the games. We pay for the food, the beer, the team merchandise. Sure, the team can sell the official naming rights, but WE can call it whatever the fuck we want. That new official name? It's fucking lame. For me, it will now ONLY be called Seahawks Stadium, now and forever.

Who is with me on this?

If you are with me, perhaps you'd like our own "Naming Wrongs" shirt, like the others available at No Mas? I'm trying to get them to print some up- I promise that if they do, I will see you at the home opener against Arizona September 25, and you will see me wearing an "I'm Calling it Seahawks Stadium" T-shirt.

If you want to join me in this crusade, it would help to tell the folks at No Mas that you'd ALSO like to buy an "I'm Calling it Seahawks Stadium" T-Shirt. They are on Twitter so you can send them a blast there, or you can call them up at 917-338-4334, or you can email them at admin AT nomas-nyc.com.

Our team, our stadium. We can call it whatever we want. Join the insurgency.

June 14, 2011

The Forgotten Years (1992-1998): Top 5 Players

5. Brian Blades (WR, 1992-1998)
Brian Blades arrived in Seattle at the tail end of the Ground Chuck era, but he spent most of his career toiling (and thriving) in The Forgotten Years. He was a solid, consistent producer who rarely had the benefit of having an elite QB delivering the ball. Blades peaked in 1994, putting up a career best 81 catches and 1086 yards. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider he had Rick Mirer and Dan McGwire throwing the ball at him (not TO HIM- AT HIM). As a lifetime Seahawk, and the 2nd most prolific receiver in franchise history, he probably deserves to eventually be added to the Ring of Honor. Here's a cool Blades TD:

4. Joey Galloway (WR, 1995-1998)
Brian Blades' Seahawks CAREER is more impressive than Joey Galloway's, but this list is about the period from 1992-1998- And there was no more electrifying, exciting Seahawk during The Forgotten Years than Joey Galloway. In terms of raw athletic ability, he might have been the most talented WR who has ever played for Seattle. He also might be the only wideout in team history who you legitimately thought "any time he touches the ball, he could score."

There's a reason I usually wore a Galloway jersey from 1995-1998, and we shouldn't let his hideously ugly exit from Seattle (holding out for most of 1999, then playing like shit, then forcing a trade- thankfully Dallas Idiot Jerry Jones gave us TWO first round picks for Galloway) erase the joy he brought the Twelve Army over these four seasons. He was also a dangerous punt returner, scoring four return TDs in addition to his 37 receiving TDs (including this one):

3. Chris Warren (RB, 1992-1997)
You know how a lot of Seahawks fans detested Shaun Alexander's running style, complaining that he wasn't tough or hard-nosed enough? Well, the 2nd most productive back in team history heard a lot of the same crap during his time in Seattle- like Alexander, he was a glider who often looked to be running with less than full effort... But once he found a hole, he ran with deceptive power and speed- and was the Seahawks' all-time leading rusher until Mr. Alexander came along. Ladies and Gents, Chris Warren:

Warren would post four 1000-yard seasons, and make three trips to the Pro Bowl. His most impressive accomplishment might have been his 1017-yard season in 1992. Surrounded by the worst offense in NFL history, and with the opposition KNOWING he was Seattle's only viable offensive weapon, he still ground out 4.6 yards per carry. HOW? Impressive, however he did it.

2. Michael Sinclair (DE, 1992-1998)
Sinclair is one of the most unfairly forgotten players in team history- Only Jacob Green has more sacks as a Seahawk, and no one in Seattle history has forced more fumbles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl three times, and absolutely terrorized enemy QBs in 1998 with 16.5 sacks. One reason he has faded from memory is terrible luck- He spent his career on a fairly nondescript, non-playoff team. Another reason? He was playing next to one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

1. Cortez Kennedy (DT, 1992-1998)
I've talked about Tez before, but the dude is always worthy of more discussion. Sometimes I like to try to talk myself into the idea that Kenny Easley was the 3rd greatest Seahawk ever after Jones and Largent, but let's be frank: It's Tez. For an entire decade, he was a DOMINANT force in the middle for Seattle, stifling opposing rushing attacks and creating absolute chaos for enemy QBs. His litany of accomplishments is amazing- Here's the big ones:

-1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
-8-time Pro Bowler (2nd in Seahawks history, behind only Walter Jones' 9)
-3-time All-Pro (2nd in Seahawks history, behind only Walter Jones' 4)
-58 QB sacks (3rd in franchise history, 1st among Seahawks DTs)

A while back, Pro Football Reference made the case for Tez to be in the Hall of Fame... Clare Farnsworth did likewise. In a few years time, The Seahawks should have three players in Canton: Steve Largent, Walter Jones, and Cortez Kennedy. When Tez gets in, I will be there at his induction. That moment, more than anything, will dignify The Forgotten Years.

For all the Twelves who endured The Forgotten Years, Kennedy's ascension to the Hall of Fame will (in some small way) help justify all the time we spent devoted to a team owned by a carpet-bagging Californian that was only occasionally entertaining, and mostly bad-to-mediocre. We will be able to say "I watched the career of Hall-of-Famer Cortez Kennedy." Believe me when I tell you- That is a pretty exclusive club.

What do you think, sirs?

June 13, 2011

The Forgotten Years (1992-1998): Top 10 Players (6-10)

First, the ground rules- History isn't as neat and clean as we'd like sometimes, and some great Seahawk careers of the Knox and Holmgren eras bled a bit into the forgotten years. This exercise is about honoring the increasingly faded memories of '90s Seahawks, so I will focus on players whose primary contribution to team history came between 1992 and 1998. A partial list of players banned (so to speak) from consideration:

-Chad Brown (1997-1998)
-Jeff Bryant (1992-1993)
-Joe Nash (1992-1995)
-Walter Jones (1997-1998)
-Rufus Porter (1992-1994)
-Eugene Robinson (1992-1995)
-Mack Strong (1994-1998)
-John L. Williams (1992-1993)

Here's the bottom half of my top 10:

10. Steve Broussard (KR/RB, 1995-1998)
The former Wazzu superstar ended his NFL career in Seattle mostly as a workhorse kickoff returner- His 165 kick returns and 3900 kickoff return yards are both franchise records. His 23.6 average per return is comparable to two of the most famous kick returners in team history: Charlie Rogers and Bobby Joe Edmonds (Broussard's numbers are slightly better than Edmonds', slightly worse than Rogers'). Broussard also had some brilliant flashes as a running back- Here's one:

9. Pete Kendall (LG, 1996-1998)
8. Kevin Mawae (C/RG 1994-1997)

Both these players became much more well-known AFTER leaving Seattle, but they anchored a surprisingly decent offensive line in the mid-90s, opening up holes for Chris Warren and keeping Warren Moon relatively clean.

7. Warren Moon (QB, 1997-1998)
It's fairly depressing that the best Seahawks QB between Krieg and Hasselbeck was a 41-year-old originally signed to back up John Melvin "Deep" Friesz, but here we are. The Seattle years are a largely forgotten chapter in Moon's Hall of Fame career to those outside of South Alaska, but for a brief period he played QB as well as anyone else in team history. Moon (albeit in a smaller number of games) put up QB rating, yards per game and yards per attempt numbers almost identical to Krieg's and Hasselbeck's during his Seahawks tenure.

Two side notes: Moon almost bumped Dave Krieg as Seattle's QB in 1984, but decided to sign with the Oilers rather than the Seahawks coming out of the CFL. Also, I owned a Warren Moon Seahawks jersey, and it looked AWESOME. After he signed with the Chiefs, I stupidly gave it away to my best friend's girlfriend at the time... still regret that. Here's a sweet Moon TD pass:

6. Darryl Williams (FS, 1996-1998)
Williams spent most of his career with the Bengals, but the peak of his career was in Seattle, where he made his lone Pro Bowl appearance after the 1997 season. His 20 Seahawk-era interceptions are equal to the pick totals of Marcus Trufant and Shawn Springs, and he was an intimidating force in the deep middle of the Seattle defense. In other words? He could fuck shit up. Observe:

Yeah, I've linked to that a lot. So what? It's AWESOME.

There you go- Top 5 coming soon. Who do you think it will be, sirs?

June 9, 2011

Forgotten Years: Top 10 Games

This one is simple enough: Here are the Top 10 Seahawks wins from 1992-1998- Enjoy!

10. 10/24/93 Seahawks 10, Patriots 9
Hard to argue this was a GREAT game (it wasn't), but it was personally significant to me- I actually talked about it in depth here once before

9. 12/11/94 Seahawks 16, Oilers 14
This game is proof that, once, and intentionally, two NFL teams pitted Dan McGwire and Billy Joe Tolliver against each other as starting quarterbacks. The real reasons this game makes the list are Chris Warren's BEASTLY 30 carry, 185 yard performance and Cortez Kennedy's pair of sacks.

Trivial side note: This was the first year of the 2-point conversion in the NFL. Seattle's 16-0 lead going into the 4th would have been a 3-score edge any previous season. Houston rallied late, scoring a TD coupled with a deuce, and scoring ANOTHER TD... The Seahawks only held on to win when that 2-point try failed.

8. 11/21/97 Seahawks 38, 49ers 9
7. 11/14/97 Seahawks 22, Raiders 21
A fun two-week stretch got the '97s to a respectable 8-8 finish. At Oakland, youngster Jon Kitna got the start at QB against the 4-11 Raiders. Seattle fell behind 21-3, but those who turned the game off after the putrid first half missed an electric come-from-behind triumph punctuated by a 49-yard game winner by Todd Peterson. Oh Kitna, so much moxie... such limited talent. I truly can't believe the guy is still rattling around the league as Tony Romo's back-up, and I've always been thankful I didn't snap up a Special K jersey when we were 8-2 in '99.

The next week the 13-2 49ers visited the Kingdome- The Niners came in with HFA locked up, and treated this like a glorified preseason game. Despite that, this was still a very satisfying win. Warren Moon wrapped up his spectacular 1997 season with four TD passes, including two to Joey Galloway.

6. 11/12/95 Seahawks 47, Jaguars 30
Speaking of Galloway, it's easy to forget how exciting he was back in his Seattle years. This game from his rookie season against the expansion Jaguars is the one you wanna watch to glimpse his amazing raw talent: 200 yards rushing/receiving and three touchdowns, including an eye-popping, cris-crossing 86-yard scamper. Chris Warren chipped in 121 yards rushing, and... hell, even Rick Mirer looked competent for a day.

5. 11/30/92 Seahawks 16, Broncos 13 (OT)
This was the lone bright spot of the desolate 1992 season. Yes, this win cost us Drew Bledsoe... But we were so desperate for anything good to happen that this felt almost like a playoff win. Long before the days of flex scheduling, ABC was forced to air a MNF game between the 1-10 Seahawks and the 7-4 (seemingly playoff bound) Denver Broncos. It would go down in national memory as perhaps the worst MNF game ever, but it's one of my favorite Seahawks memories.

We lucked out when Tommy Maddox started at QB for Denver rather than Seahawk-Killer John Elway, and as usual for '92 Seattle's defense played brilliantly only to find itself betrayed by our historically inept offense. The Hawks were somehow only down 13-6 in the final minutes- A face-mask penalty on a punt return set us up at the Denver 35, but it still felt like it would take a miracle to put 7 on the board.

Somehow Stan Gelbaugh got us inside the 10, and on 4th and goal he hit Brian Blades for the tying TD. Blades did some stupid early-90s celebration dance and the Kingdome crowd erupted like it was 1984 all over again. In OT John Kasay booted Seattle to only its 2nd win of the season, and Denver spiraled to a 8-8 collapse and an Xmas at home just like the pathetic Seattlites. I remember running out onto my front yard and screaming "SEAAAAAAHAWWWWWKKKKKSSSSSS!" into the night after that win.

4. 9/6/98 Seahawks 38, Eagles 0
If you didn't see this game, it's really difficult to understand the reaction of Seahawks fans at the time. The Hawks went cross country into that outhouse of a stadium called The Vet and DOMINATED the Eagles. In every phase of the game, the Seahawks looked Super Bowl Bound. Warren Moon tossed three TDs, Joey Galloway had 6 catches for 142 yards and 2 TDs, and we had a running back tandem of Ahman Green and Ricky Watters that looked unstoppable. The defense? They just posted three takeaways, nine sacks and a pick-six TD.

For one day, anything looked possible.

3. 11/3/96 Seahawks 23, Oilers 16
This one is probably the 2nd most dramatic finish in Seahawks history (after Krieg-to-Skansi at Arrowhead in 1990). Game tied at 16, with Houston trying a chip-shot FG for the win on the final play of regulation. In a matter of seconds, a sure defeat became overtime (with a blocked FG attempt), and overtime became a Seahawks win when Robert Blackmon streaked into the end zone for the winning score. Here's the visual evidence:

2. 10/26/97 Seahawks 45, Raiders 34
Watch Warren Moon throw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns! Watch Monica Seles hang out with Paul Allen in the owners box! It was nothing but fireworks that day in the dome, and Oakland never recovered from this loss, going 1-7 afterwards to finish 4-12. My seats were in the top row of the south end zone, and a few rows down were a bunch of howling, strutting refugees from The Black Hole, who brayed like hyenas all day. Finally, with the outcome decided and during a lull in the action, I screamed at them "Sit down and SHUT UP. Your team is 3-5!!!!" I was lucky they didn't shiv me in the parking lot after the final whistle.

Then there was Darryl Williams' brutal but clean hit on Rickey Dudley... I was there that day, and I've never seen or heard anything like it: A huge collective gasp, followed by a roar of absolute bloodlust... here it is:

1. 12/10/95 Seahawks 31, Broncos 27
This win not only kept Denver out of the playoffs, but it also was the greatest comeback in team history, against our most despicable rivals and chief tormentor. I was going to Western at the time, and living in the Fairhaven dorms. It was final exam time, and instead of cramming I was glued to the Hawks/Broncos throwdown. As the game went on, my textbooks started to look more appealing than witnessing another Elway-administered beatdown.

Denver led 20-0 at one point, and even after a Peterson FG, it was 20-3 at the half. Denver was deep in Seattle territory early in the 3rd, about to make it 27-3. The Hawks gambled on D, sending Robert Blackmon on a safety blitz. Blackmon obliterated Mr. Ed and Antonio Edwards scooped up the fumble and rambled 83 yards for a TD that completely shifted the momentum. I leaned out my dorm window and brayed like a farm animal after that one... Seattle still trailed 27-17 in the 4th, but rallied for two late touchdowns, leading to more out-the-dorm-window screaming. Simply amazing.

Up next? The Top 10 Players of The Forgotten Years

June 6, 2011

The Forgotten Years: 1992-1998

As I get older, I have become dimly aware that many Seahawks fans are wayyyy younger than me. In fact, there is a huge chunk of the Twelve Army that joined the ranks in the last decade or so- Many of these fans may have some sort of historical knowledge of the Ground Chuck Glory Days of the 1980s (they might even have throwback jerseys from that era), but most are probably unfamiliar with a dank, forlorn period in team history- The intermission between Knox and Holmgren, where the team struggled, the Kingdome emptied out, and there was the very real threat of the team skipping town. However, there are many things about this 7-season stretch in franchise history that are actually worth remembering, so today, and in posts to follow, I will try to shed some light upon the Behring Dark Ages.

Astute readers may notice that I'm not a Mariners fan, and that while I empathize with their plight, I was never actually a Sonics fan. One reason? The amazing amount of shit I had to put up with from front-running, bandwagon Mariners and Sonics fans during this era. Now I know a lot of you are/were passionate tripartite fans of the Hawks, M's and Sonics- I'm not slagging on you. More power to you that the M's and Sonics soothed your pain as Seahawks fans back then. No. I'm talking about the sentient, bipedal hemorrhoids who mocked me for sticking with the Seahawks in the mid-90s while the region's NBA and MLB sides were ascendant.

If you survived this era as a Seahawks fan, you earned your buttons. People gave you reams of crap for showing up in public in your Joey Galloway jersey. If you lived in the Seattle broadcast area, games were often blacked out. When you went to games, the Dome was half full, and/or mostly filled with opposing fans. Worst of all? The Seahawks lost most of the time and looked BAD doing it. How bad was the team? A highlight of the era was Sir Mix-A-Lot's posse wearing Seahawks gear in the video for "Baby Got Back."

The Presidents of the United States weren't making any songs venerating the Seahawks- and why would they? Over these 7 seasons, the Seahawks were 45-67 with no winning seasons and no playoff appearances. Even worse? They often were not just bad, but also BORING. These were also my college years at Western in Bellingham, so thankfully I was a bit distracted from the Seahawks' struggles- But every loss still stung, and I felt the glee of victory far too rarely.

Still, there are things worth remembering from this era- Guys like Cortez Kennedy, Chris Warren, Warren Moon, Chad Brown and Joey Galloway wore Seahawks blue in this era. We rose up and smote our divisional rivals and the NFL's elite once in a while. These men fought for us, and I aim to tell some of their stories.

First, the top 5 most important events of this era:

5. Paul Allen Sells 300 Level End Zone Seats for $10, I Get Season Tickets (1997)

Ok, this one is very personal, but when Paul Allen made a block of end zone upper deck seats available for $10, I thought "Holy shit! Even as a Cup-Noodle-Slurping impoverished grad student, I can scrape together $200 for Seahawks season tickets!" I've held onto them since, and I've gotten to be there in the flesh for amazing moments like the 2005 NFC Championship Game and the "Romo Game."

Thanks, Mr. Allen.

4. Rick Mirer Gets Spun Into Walter Jones (1997)

In 1993, the Seahawks used the 2nd overall pick in the draft on Notre Dame QB Rick Mirer (after- and this is just a widespread rumor- the Seahawks perhaps refused an offer from the 49ers of Steve Young for our first round pick). The short version? It didn't work out. After a promising rookie season, Mirer failed to progress, then started to regress, until finally playing himself onto the bench. Another major fuck-up by Behring's minions? Totally.

But... Somehow they hornswaggled the QB-poor Chicago Bears into giving Seattle a 1st round pick for Mirer in 1997- A pick that the Seahawks would use to select Walter FUCKING Jones.

Sometimes, despite themselves, the Behringites did the right thing.

3. Cortez Kennedy's 1992 Season

This really had to been seen to be believed. Budding superstar Cortez Kennedy, drawing additional motivation from the untimely death of friend/University of Miami teammate Jerome Brown (Kennedy switched to #99 in honor of Brown for the 1992 season), dominated the middle and notched 14 sacks AS AN INTERIOR LINEMAN.

Kennedy did all this on one of the worst teams in NFL history- a 2-14 team that included an offense that CONSTANTLY left the defense to fend for itself (they scored an NFL record-low 140 points over the entire season). Despite playing for a terrible team with NO national exposure, Tez was so overwhelming in 1992 that he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Why is he not in the Hall of Fame again?

2. The Phantom Touchdown (December 6, 1998)

The Seahawks were 6-6 and fighting not only for their playoff lives, but to keep Coach Dennis Erickson employed. They played their best game of the year, on the road, at 10 am Seattle time, and against the playoff-bound Jets. All they had to do to hold on to a 31-26 season-defining, coach-saving victory was to stop the Jets on 4th and goal... and they did.

Until dipshit official Phil Luckett signaled touchdown. Later, he would say that he thought that Testaverde's helmet was the ball. For reals. I was so incensed that I broke numerous items in my tiny Bellingham apartment. Seattle would limp to 8-8, and Dennis Erickson would get canned.

Two very important things happened because of this game. The NFL brought back Instant Replay, and Paul Allen hired Mike Holmgren to run and coach the Seahawks. In the end, it all worked out- But I'll never forget the rage and hopelessness I felt that day.

Here's the Seahawks' 1998 team video- The Jets footage is right at the start:

1. Referendum 48 Passes by 36,870 Votes (June 17, 1997)

You know the story: California carpetbagger Ken Behring bought the Seahawks in 1988 and quickly started running the franchise into the ground. In 1996, he used falling tiles in the Kingdome as a pretense to try to move the team to Los Angeles. It went so far that minicamp was held in Southern California that spring. Paul Allen stepped in and made an offer to buy the team, but that offer was contingent on funding for a new stadium to replace the Kingdome. Just two years earlier, at the height of Mariners fever, a similar vote for a new M's stadium failed- So the Seahawks' chances looked slim at best.

With Seattle and its suburbs supporting the stadium, they were able to overcome opposition from the rest of the state (expect for the Tri-Cities, which was only area of Eastern Washington where a majority voted yes). The rest is history, right? Holmgren, Hasselbeck, a decade of success, and an amazing new stadium... and it all started here.

Coming up? The top 10 games and Top 10 Seahawks players of The Forgotten Years- I'll show you the #1 player now: