June 26, 2012

Is Anti-South Alaska Bias Keeping Ricky Watters Out of Canton?

Last night I went to a Columbus Clippers game (They're Cleveland's AAA affiliate), and I showed off my new Nike Marshawn Lynch Seahawks jersey. Everyone who reacted to it seemed to share two attributes: A) They were young and B) They LOVED it. Multiple times dudes yelled "BEAST MODE!" at me, and one guy simply said "fucking SWEET" as I walked by. You are correct, random bro: It IS fucking sweet. I'm convinced that if the Seahawks are any good this year, those new Nike jerseys are going to FLY off the shelves... but that's not why I'm blogging today. I saw an amazing sight at the game- Another Seahawks fan, in a loved-to-death Ricky Watters jersey (Hell, it could have been MY jersey. I sold my Watters on eBay a decade ago). Here we are...


Meeting that Twelve made me think about Ricky Watters, his Seahawks years and his larger NFL legacy. Go take a look at his career stats on Pro Football Reference, and you'll have the same question that has been gnawing at me: Why is this guy not even SNIFFING the Hall of Fame?

To the casual NFL fan, if they remember Ricky Watters, they remember one of two things: His role with the XXIX Champion 49ers, and/or his infamous "For who? For what" comment when asked about not laying out over the middle to make a catch while playing for the Eagles. To those folks, the idea of Watters having a bust in Canton largely seems ridiculous.

Go back to PFR and look at his numbers: 5 Pro Bowls, 8 thousand-yard seasons, 91 career touchdowns, and almost 15,000 yards from scrimmage. Of the 10 players that PFR records as having careers "similar" to Watters, 6 are in the Hall of Fame (and the other four are Tiki Barber, John L. Williams, Roger Craig, and Fred Taylor). He was one of the most dangerous offensive weapons of the 1990s, and yet his name never seems to seriously come up in Hall of Fame discussions (you can't even pull that "he never won a ring" shit with him either). Why?

You could argue that his reputation as a selfish player hurts his candidacy, but there are ALL manner of reprobates enshrined in the Hall of Fame. No. Watters' greatest crime against the game? He chose to take his talents to South Alaska. It didn't matter that he was playing some of the best football of his career- Once he moved to Seattle (and to a team that appeared in one playoff game in his four Seattle seasons), he may as well have signed with the Mars Greenskins. To the NFL intelligentsia, he disappeared for good.

Watters' three full seasons with the Seahawks were all among the five best statistical efforts of his decade-long career, but he wasn't chosen for the Pro Bowl in 1998, 1999 or 2000. Somehow, better seasons than he had in Philadelphia or San Francisco were discounted because he was wearing blue, green and silver. Imagine that Watters finished his career that strongly playing for the Chicago Bears or the New York Giants- Do you really think he'd still be waiting for his bust? Nope. Me either.

Watters was pushed out of the starting line-up by a young Shaun Alexander, who just happened to be the greatest running back in franchise history- Before that, he had what was arguably the best 3-year performance by a Seattle running back before Alexander's 2003-2005 rampage. He's part of a proud history of Seahawks running backs/fullbacks: Curt Warner, John L. Williams, Chris Warren, Mack Strong, Alexander and Marshawn Lynch. His place in our franchise's history should be secure- it's just sad that choosing to play for Seattle probably cost him greater NFL immortality.

What do you think, sirs?

June 11, 2012

The Seahawks Will Make You Forget About The Thunder

The team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics is in the NBA Finals, and the mood among Seattle sports fans is absolutely toxic. Even though I was never a Sonics fan, their departure for dusty, windblown Oklahoma City wounded me as well. A vast population of my fellow Seahawks fans, of my fellow Washingtonians, saw a team they loved and cherished abandon them- abandon their devotion, their passion, and their emotional (not to mention financial) support. It wasn't that long ago that this almost happened to the Twelve Army (and who knows.. maybe it did in some alternate timeline). I can't even fathom what that would have done to me. For a committed, passionate sports fan a team moving away is equivalent to death. A part of me would have died if the Seahawks had moved to L.A. 15 years ago, so I become almost physically ill when I ruminate on what Sonics fans must be going through right now, on top of the humiliation and pain they've already endured.

I've never been a fan of any Seattle team besides the Seahawks, but sports fans back home deserve some fucking JOY. Two of the city's major pro sports teams have fled the area (hell, the Seattle Pilots left after ONE FUCKING YEAR, and were only replaced with the Mariners after the threat of Federal intervention against MLB), and EVERY major professional team has come close to fleeing at one point or another. As if the constant fear of abandonment isn't horrifying enough, Seattle's pro teams haven't exactly left their trophy cases over-stuffed with Championships. Yes, the Sonics won in 1979. When I was 4. Yes, the Storm won a title- Huzzah for them, of course... but fairly or not, conquering the WNBA doesn't quite slake Seattle's thirst for winning. I heard the Sounders won SOMETHING, but I'm not quite sure how significant it was (and let's be fucking real- is MLS even the global soccer equivalent of AAA baseball?). This is America, and the sports fans of a major American metropolis like Seattle want any or all of the following things: Super Bowl win, NBA title, World Series win, or a Stanley Cup.

Until Chris Hansen's dreams blossom into glorious reality, the only chances Seattle fans have for ultimate "Fuck All Y'all!" glory come from the Mariners and the Seahawks. I'm not going to be a dick and crap all over the M's, but ask any fan- They're not on a path that will lead to a pennant, let alone a World Series victory, in the immediate future. The great hope, the vessel than could soothe decades of anger, frustration, and agony with the balm only won with a Championship- That would be your Seattle Seahawks.

Skeptics abound- around the nation and even within the Seahawks' own fan base. They'll say the Seahawks have gone 14-18 in the regular season under Pete Carroll. They'll nitpick. They'll jump on any bit of negativity and doubt to tell you "See! SEE??? Carroll is doomed to fail!" They'll tell you lame USC-related jokes that they think are clever on a Louis CK level, and you'll have to resist the urge to punch them in the face. They'll ignore a defense that is primed to become one of the very best in the NFL- A unit that might be of Super Bowl-quality THIS year. They'll ignore an offense that only needs better QB play (not even ELITE QB play) and normal health among the linemen to drive Seattle into a deep playoff run. I look at the 2012 Seahawks and see 10 wins and the playoffs- but the ceiling could be even higher. Like the 1999 Rams or 2000 Ravens, these Seahawks might go directly from a losing season to a World Championship. No, I am not kidding or whacked out on Bath Salts.

We could be close to the lowest, most depressing moment in the history of Seattle professional sports. If Clay Bennett hoists the Larry O'Brien Trophy in a week or so, Seattle's profane cries of agony will ring out from coast to coast. And yes, millions of assholes will tell Seattle to "get over it." That should sound familiar to most Seahawks fans.

I'm here to tell you that there won't be time to wallow. In just a couple of months Earl Thomas will make you forget about Kevin Durant. Marshawn Lynch will push Serge Ibaka from your consciousness. Kam Chancellor will make you say "Westbrook? Who?" Doug Baldwin will distract you from your rage toward Howard Schultz. Great, entertaining, winning football is coming- and I believe Pete Carroll will bring a  Major Professional Championship to Seattle for the first time in most of our memories.

That being said... Fuck OKC. Seriously. Fuck those assholes.

What do you think, sirs?