You can see all the pictures from my weekend in Seattle HERE...
Yup. That's me. On the field. Before the Seahawks v Titans game. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had as a sports fan, and I'll talk about it in a second. First, I should probably tell you how it happened.
I've had a relationship with the Miltary Sea Hawkers group for a while now. Among other things, the group helps get Seahawks tickets in the hands of servicemen and women who are Twelves. No matter how you feel about the American military-industrial complex, I think it's pretty awesome that Military Sea Hawkers gets those brave, hard-working men and women in the arena to cheer on our Seahawks. Last year I donated some of my tickets to them, and I've formed a friendship with Brandan Schulze (who helps make the connections between service members and ticket donors). Last week I appeared on the Sea Hawkers Podcast with him, and he graciously offered to get my brother and I down on the field before the Titans game.
Brandan, Traci Williams, and the rest of the folks at Military Sea Hawkers work TIRELESSLY to give service members who are Seahawks fans info about our team, access to the games on television, and tickets donated by generous season ticket holders. If you'd like to help fund their cause, you can donate by visiting their facebook page and clicking on the "Donate" app. I'm indebted to them, and I hope y'all consider helping them (and their worthwhile cause).
Once we got on the field, the succession of mind-blowing moments was nearly overwhelming. The first one was sort of surreal: The Jack In The Box mascot (a guy in a suit with his trademark headpiece) walked right past my brother and I in the North East tunnel. For some reason, I was really disappointed that I didn't get a picture with this random guy working as a fast food mascot (maybe it's just because I love their egg rolls and I can't get them in Ohio). We ended up behind the south end zone, about five feet from the edge of the playing field. Golden Tate came up to us and said hello and shook our hands, and after I got over my giddy shock, I was just glad I didn't say anything stupid to him. One thing I noticed? Even Tate was much bigger than I imagined he'd be up close. Guys like Max Unger are MAMMOTH human beings, and you only really understand that when you're 10 feet away from them.
So many other little moments stick in my mind... I yelled encouragement at Marshawn Lynch, and he heard me and pointed my direction. Paul Allen walked by, about 3 feet away from me. I yelled "Thank you, Mr. Allen!" once I figured out who he was, but I don't think he heard me. We met a few of the game officials, and the American Idol guy after he sang the National Anthem. We were on the Titans' sidelines during the Anthem, about 5 feet behind Chris Johnson... and on and on and on.
The funny thing? As amazing as that experience was, it would have been at least somewhat spoiled if the Seahawks had lost the game. Thankfully for my sanity, the Hawks pulled out an UGLY 20-13 victory, in a game that wasn't quite as competitive as the final score indicates.
Tennessee's weird, fluky TD on a botched FG attempt as the 1st half ended masked a brutal truth for the Titans: They couldn't get ANYTHING going against Seattle's defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked three times and intercepted by Earl Thomas III and Richard Sherman. The ambulatory husk formerly known as CJ2K was held to 33 yards rushing and the Titans as a team could only muster 66 yards on the ground. The defense looks like its recovered nicely from a rough outing against Andrew Luck (which is frankly sort of forgivable).
Seattle's offense is still "sputtering," in a relative sense. The Seahawks have averaged 26.2 points per game (7th in the NFL) and are 2nd in rushing yards and 10th in total yards, but it still feels like something is wrong with our offensive attack. As usual, the stars were Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Wilson had another solid, productive outing, passing for 253 yards and rushing for 61 more. Lynch just had his usual 150+ yard day and two touchdowns. Yes, here come the Skittles. Yawn. The good news? When the offensive line returns to full strength and guys like Zach Miller and Percy Harvin get back on the field, this could still be a Top-5 offense in December and January.
The Hawks now stand at an impressive 5-1 (a start they haven't had since 2003), and with New Orleans' loss in Foxboro last night Seattle is in firm control of the race for the NFC's top seed. As always, there are nits to be picked, but our team is still on a trajectory for a game in the Met Life Snowglobe next February.
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OK- Here's an additional, more personal bit about my first visit to Seahawks Stadium in "girl mode." So, if you don't care about that, here's your cue to exit... If you do, here we go....
What a transcendent weekend! I presented as a woman all weekend, and had a universally positive experience. I got to see over a dozen of my old college friends, and they were, without exception, totally supportive and happy to see me (and very pleased that I'm happier than I've ever been). When we were all together, it was like we just picked up where we left off at the end of the 20th Century. While I was out and about in girl mode this weekend, no one gave me any trouble (which was great when I was out shopping for new Seahawks stuff, trying things on, etc), and I never got hassled when I used the ladies' room (even at the game, this wasn't an issue).
My parents were also completely awesome this weekend (and big thanks to them for paying to fly me out), and I got to watch my brother James kick some ass in a PLU win on Saturday. James went to the game with me yesterday, and I ended up meeting up with my friend Karissa (who is udubgal on Twitter) and my college girlfriend Alisa (who I haven't seen in something like 15 years). Everyone was overjoyed to see me, which increased my comfort level enormously.
In the back of my mind, I kept waiting for something negative to happen. I thought it was going to go down after the game Sunday night. My brother and I stopped at Jack In The Box in Tacoma, and when we got there, I needed to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, this was one of those joints where you have to ask for the key to the restroom. I had awful visions in my head of the employee bellowing "Don't you mean the MEN'S room??!?" Total humiliation. I gathered up my courage and asked anyway. She gave me the key without skipping a beat, and then, when my food was ready, she said "here you go, MA'AM."
Of all the great things that happened this weekend, that was near the top. Overall, the whole weekend couldn't have possibly been a more positive experience for me.. and yesterday was just the first of MANY games I'll be attending as Johnnie for the rest of my life. Thanks to ALL of you for your readership and your support!
What do you think, sirs?