Four years is a long time. A lot can change.
In December 2009, I was at a low point in my life. I didn't know how to constructively deal with my gender identity issues, and that tainted damn near everything else in my life. I was anxious, fat, and depressed. Just look at this Wobegon bastard:
At the same time (and in no way helping my state of mind), my Seahawks were at what felt like the lowest ebb in franchise history. As I wrote back then about the moldered, rancid MoraHawks:
How bad were the 2009 Seahawks? Not only did no members of the team get selected to the Pro Bowl, but the team's two best players were probably Kicker Olindo Mare and Punter Jon Ryan. No other Seahawks team in franchise history lost in blowout fashion more than the '09ers, who lost seven games by margins of 17 points or more. The 2009 Seahawks had no 1,000 yard rusher, no 1,000 yard receiver, and no defender with more than five sacks or more than three interceptions.
Not only did this team lose, but they often lost big with little fight and even less pizazz. The expansion Hawks of '76 and the 1980 4-win team had Zorn and Largent to at least create a modicum of offensive excitement, and the '92s boasted Cortez Kennedy's DPOY performance, a memorable MNF win over the hated Broncos, and a 1,000-yard rusher in Chris Warren. Even in 2008 the Seahawks were more competitive, dropping close games to the Patriots, 49ers, Dolphins, Redskins and Cardinals, and beating Brett Favre's Jets in Holmgren's final snowglobe home game.
Even most of Seattle's wins in 2009 were disheartening. Yes, it was a blast killing the Niners' season with a late FG, and it was fun to see the Seahawks flatten Jacksonville 41-0... But falling behind the 2-win Lions 17-0 at Qwest before winning ugly? Ugh. Two more wins over the overmatched, 1-win Rams? Nothing to celebrate, other than a feeling of relief that the Seahawks didn't dishonor themselves with defeats.
Embarassing, non-descript shittiness. That's the legacy of the 2009 Seahawks.
Tim Ruskell left the cupboard bare with bad drafts and worse free agent signings. Jim Mora piloted this poorly constructed vessel straight into the rocks and immediately blamed it on a placekicker. Four years ago, the Seahawks were the worst team in the NFL. They were old, slow, and overpriced. Collectively, they surrendered in the final month of the season. They lost their last four games by a combined score of 123-37. They were adrift. There was no hope for the future. You could have said the same thing about me back then, too.
With the support of those close to me, I finally started taking incremental steps toward transition. I had to make numerous unpleasant/harrowing decisions, and then I had to deal with the consequences of those choices. I had to overcome fears that had paralyzed me for nearly my entire life. I had to jump out of the plane and stitch together a parachute on the way down. While frightening challenges still lie in front of me, today I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. Just look at this contented chick:
When Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over the Seahawks, they made HUNDREDS of roster moves, and many of those brought down howls of protest from the Twelve Army (Remember Josh Wilson?). Not every move they made worked out (Charlie Whitehurst? Tarvaris Jackson? Matt Flynn?), but after four years of tough decisions and meticulous labor, the Seahawks have blossomed. They've gone from the least talented team in the NFL to the absolute deepest. A year into Barack Obama's first term, both the Seahawks and I were despairing and past hope. A year into his second term, both myself and the team face futures that crackle and blind with limitless promise.
That doesn't mean there won't be setbacks. Last week at work, this little mouth-breathing walking turd got in my face and asked me if I was a man or a woman. That pissed me off, as did yesterday's loss to the Cardinals.
What an odd game, huh? The typically automatic Steven Hauschka banged a 24-yard field goal attempt off the left upright. Seattle averaged 5.2 yards per carry on the ground, but only had 20 rushing attempts. The Seahawks intercepted Carson Palmer four times, yet found a way to lose. The officials apparently couldn't tell the difference between the ground and Doug Baldwin's arm, failing to overturn an incorrect call of an Arizona interception that snuffed out Seattle's last scoring chance.
Arizona's winning drive was kept alive by an improbable Palmer scramble/dime and one of the LATEST defensive holding flags I've ever seen. That winning drive was punctuated by a ridiculous touchdown catch by Michael Floyd, who hauled in the ball AFTER it was tipped by Byron Maxwell.
It's tempting to just jump up and down screaming "Ahh! We sucked!" It's more important to remember that the Cardinals are a solid team, one that would be headed for the playoffs if not for the misfortune of residing in the stacked NFC rather than the thinner AFC. We didn't lose to a collection of random chumps (in fact, the Seahawks three losses this season have been by a combined 15 points to teams who've collectively racked up 30 victories). It's also willful ignorance to wave away questions about yesterday's officiating, which was biased against Seattle in ways both subtle and egregious. A potent maelstrom of a formidable enemy, awful officiating and just plain old bad luck combined to produce a rare home loss for the Seahawks. While concerns about our offensive performance are legitimate, they're no reason to extrapolate from yesterday's disappointment that our quest to hoist that Lombardi Trophy is doomed to fail.
Going into Week 17, the Seahawks are 12-3 and tied for the best record in the NFL. With a win over the 7-8 St. Louis Rams, they'll clinch the NFC West and Home Field Advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. Walter Thurmond III (who was originally given a chance to play by that infamous Josh Wilson trade) will be back on the field to bolster an already dominant defense. It's a monumentally important game, and as we've seen through this season, the biggest games have tended to bring out the best in these Seahawks.
As Twelves, maybe we've gotten a bit complacent recently. Hell, maybe the team did too. But EVERYTHING we want to accomplish this season is still well within our reach. As bad as the Twelve Army seems to feel right now, you'll all feel much better in a week, and you won't even remember yesterday's game on February 3rd.
Four years is a long time. A lot can change. But the biggest and best changes? They're yet to come.
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