July 27, 2013

No, This Isn't 1985 Redux...

Doooooomed! The Seattle Seahawks are DOOOOOOOOOOMED! 

Percy Harvin is having hip issues. He might have a torn labrum. It might require surgery. He might miss a significant amount of time. Given Harvin's explosive talents, the quiver of draft picks and heaping pile of cash the Seahawks gave up to acquire him, this news has provided an opening to every national media naysayer and hater, and to every Twelve that is happier bemoaning the fate of the "Same Old Seahawks" than embracing hope or joy.

Yes, I'd rather have a healthy Percy Harvin. Yes, I'm worried about the longer-term implications for the Seahawks if Harvin is more or less "broken." I'm NOT worried about the 2013 Seahawks becoming a reboot of the deeply disappointing 1985 Seahawks, who started the preseason with Super Bowl expectations but limped to a pedestrian 8-8 record. Even without Percy Harvin, these Seahawks would still be serious contenders to win XLVIII. Let's revisit why that is...

1) The Seahawks have significantly upgraded the NFL's top scoring defense of 2012, particularly on the defensive line. They should be a Championship-level unit in 2013. Last time I checked, Percy Harvin doesn't play defense.

2) I did the math. In the last 10 games of the 2012 season (including the playoffs), the Seahawks scored 324 points. That's 32.4 points per game, kids. That was without Percy Harvin. It's not that I expect us to score thirty points a game over the 2013 season, but it's absolute lunacy to argue the Seattle offense will be hobbled and ineffective if Harvin isn't in the line-up. We'll score more than enough points, Harvin or not.

3) Without Harvin this team was 30 seconds away from the 2012 NFC Championship Game. That was with a rookie quarterback. A rookie who is obsessed with mastering the art of playing quarterback, who gets up at 6 am to watch film, who has an other-worldly set of physical and mental gifts. Yeah, some talk about a sophomore slump... I think his 2nd campaign is more likely to be a 1984-Dan-Marino-esque evolutionary leap forward.

So let's just consider the worst case scenario: Harvin misses 2013. Might that make the difference between 12-4 and 11-5? Might it be the difference between having the #1 seed or the #2 seed? Sure. But it won't keep Seattle from making the playoffs, and if the Hawks make the playoffs they'll TERRORIZE every opponent they face.

Would I panic if Russell Wilson went down for a significant amount of time? Fuck yes! Or Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman? Hell yeah... But while Harvin is a great talent, he isn't the fulcrum of the 2013 Seahawks' fate. Chill out. Know Hope. Keep Calm and Carry On... All that shit, yo.

What do you think, sirs?

July 23, 2013

Brief Thoughts on the Eve of Training Camp...

Our franchise is about to field the best squad in their history. 

Think about that statement. Does ANYONE really object to it? Does anyone even want to make the case that the 2005 Seahawks were more talented, focused and primed for success than the 2013 Hawks? Then think about this: How often do fans of ANY team know this with such certainty before a season even begins? We are at a completely unprecedented moment in Seahawks history, and we all know it. That's why every ticket for every training camp practice and meaningful game has already been sold.

I can already hear the people out there telling me "not to jinx it." I can already sense the people telling me not to be cocky, and not to give any ammunition to the haters. Fuck. ALL. That.

First of all, I don't buy into any of that superstitious tripe. My confidence in the Seahawks' Super Bowl chances won't anger some obscure God of Fan Humility, who will then smite the Hawks. Secondly, I'm a FAN. I can scream from the mountaintop that the Seahawks rule, and it's not going to become "bulletin board" material for the Forty-Niners.

My first hope for the 2013 Seahawks is that they win the Super Bowl. My second hope is that they completely, irrevocably alter the mentality of Seahawks fans forever. I want the negativity to die. I want the hesitancy to embrace hope and possibility to wither into dust. I want "Same Old Seahawks" to become synonymous with blowout wins and championships instead of failure and disappointment.

Don't hedge! Don't equivocate! When someone asks you what you think the Seahawks will do this season, don't hesitate. You look them right in the eye and you tell them...

"The Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl."

If you don't believe that, why not? What the fuck are you waiting for? What do they have to do to make you believe? Don't shy away from these stratospheric expectations! Hop on the Saturn V booster that is the 2013 Seahawks, strap in and ENJOY THE FUCKING RIDE.

Why deny yourself the boundless joy of watching Russell Wilson's first MVP season by wringing your hands about the possibility he might get hurt? Why distract yourself from watching the greatest defense in Seahawks history with concerns about Richard Sherman yapping too much? Stop borrowing worry, as they say. Relax and enjoy the greatest season of football you've seen in your life.

Who is with me?

July 5, 2013

Homecoming Game

It's official! I'll be in Seattle the weekend of October 11-13 to see my family, my Seattle-area friends, a PLU game (my brother James will be a sophomore DB for the Lutes) and of course the Seahawks-Titans dust-up. It's basically the same trip I made out west last November..

But it's not, is it? Last week I revealed some fairly important personal details here on the blog, and nothing is ever really going to be the same. I don't want this blog to turn into a running commentary about my transition, but if this is going to remain the deeply personal project it's been since the start, that shit's gonna have to be dealt with sometimes. This is one of those times.

Whenever I come out west to see a game, I run into people who recognize me from the blog. That's AWESOME. It's really gratifying to know that people enjoy what I write, and to know that I give voice to the segment of our fan base that isn't addled by a predisposition for defeatism and negativity. Things are different now, and at least a little bit awkward/scary- Now, anyone who recognizes me from the blog will also probably know that I'm transgender. Will people be as understanding/supportive in person as they've been on twitter/in the comments here on the blog? I hope so, but I really don't know. I can think of 100 different terrible things that might happen.

The thing that might confuse people is that even in October I'll most likely still be presenting myself as a "guy," at least in a public place I don't feel entirely safe within. I get closer to living as a woman every day, but it's still probably 6-12 months away from happening. So when I run into people at the game this October, uncomfortable questions will probably be asked, or at least reside on the tips of peoples' tongues.

That's all scary as shit to me, but I face far scarier things as part of this whole journey I've embarked upon. I often think of that bit in Glengarry Glen Ross when Alec Baldwin starts berating Alan Arkin (in terms of dealing with the stress associated with transitioning): "You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? You can't take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit?" I need to keep forcing myself out of my little comfort zone, and I'm certainly not going to stop going to Seahawks games because I'm afraid of what people might say to me.

You know what has been one of the constants in my life, as I questioned these incredibly basic things about my identity for decades? Loving the mother-fucking Seahawks. Some things aren't gonna change one goddamn bit: I'm still never going to miss a game, I'm still gonna pour my heart and soul into this blog, and when I come to Seahawks Stadium I'm going to scream until my skull is on the verge of popping whenever the enemy has the ball. The continuity of my Seahawks fandom while EVERYTHING else in my life changes is unbelievably comforting to me.

Last January, as I sat in my apartment crying after the Seahawks lost that playoff game in Atlanta, one of the first thoughts that gave me ANY comfort in that moment of despair was... "Now, when we win the Super Bowl, maybe you'll get to celebrate that win you've been waiting for your whole life as YOU. The real you. Johnnie, not Johnny." 

I'll see y'all in October. No matter what my apprehensions are, I can't fucking wait.

What do you think, sirs?

July 1, 2013

Regret, Remorse, and Reebok

For many fans, buying an NFL jersey isn't a frivolous decision. As I've talked about numerous times in this space, the jersey you choose to wear says a lot about you, and the high expense of a jersey (At least $100, unless you go the used/counterfeit route) forces one (or at least SHOULD force one) to deliberate seriously before making a decision.

Two things have happened in the past week that underline the inherent peril of buying an NFL jersey. Aaron Hernandez's arrest for first-degree murder is among the most henious examples one could ever imagine. Anyone out walking around in a Hernandez jersey right now might as well be wearing a sign that says "I Am A Giant Fucking Shitbird," so it makes sense that the Patriots are allowing many fans to turn in their tainted jerseys.

A less spectacular (and less troubling) example is Earl Thomas' decision to change the nameplate on the back of his jersey to "THOMAS III." Obviously, he has every right to wear the name on his jersey that he wants, but this is a HUGE pain in the ass for fans. Maybe I'm just way too anal and persnickety, but if I had an E.T. jersey that said "THOMAS" on the back, I'd be salty (and way less likely to wear the jersey).

All of this got me thinking about the phenomenon of "Jersey Regret," and I look at it from two angles. First, there's the regret associated with buying a jersey, then having to deal with the player sucking/being an asshole or a felon/leaving WAY too soon after you buy the jersey. Secondly, there's the regret associated with getting rid of a jersey, then later realizing you should have held onto it. Here's my top 5 most regrettable jersey purchases, and the top 5 jerseys I wish I had held onto...

Worst Purchases

5. Julian Peterson
Peterson was a productive player in his three Seattle seasons, but he filled me with rage (ok, not rage, but intense annoyance) when he changed his number from 59 to 98 before the 2008 season. I got BARELY a season of use out of my #59 Peterson jersey. Blerg.

4. Shaun Alexander (2002 Reebok Color Error)
This isn't because I'm an Alexander hater. I'm not. No- the problem was that the first batches of new Seahawks jerseys that came out in 2002 WERE THE WRONG COLOR. The shade of blue that was used in 2002 jerseys wasn't even close to what the players on the field were sporting. Reebok corrected that error in 2003, but that was too late for me and the $75 I pissed away.

3. Deion Branch
Thousands of Twelves are in the same leaky boat on this one. Branch was supposed to be a difference-making receiver, only two years removed from being Super Bowl MVP with the Patriots. He never came close to living up to that potential, or justifying the first-round pick we traded away for him. I also fell prey to the lure of "Hey, #83 looks good on me!" Yes, I am firmly convinced that some numbers look "better" on me than others. I need professional help.

2. John Carlson (2009 Neon Green)
Don't misunderstand me- I was (and still am) a John Carlson fan, and one of my favorite moments as a Seahawks fan was when I happened to meet his parents before a game in 2009. His brief time in Seattle was mostly awesome, and his two TDs against New Orleans in our 2010 Wild Card win should never be forgotten by the Twelve Army.

But I still TOTALLY regretted buying his jersey. For one thing, I got the infamous bright neon green version, which the team wore once in 2009, then never ever donned again. Personally, I liked those jerseys, but the fact that we never wore them again (and the fact that they're forever linked to the awful MoraHawks) soured me on them.

Also, I bought it in the summer of 2010. Carlson not only had a relatively disappointing season, but he got injured before the 2011 season, and left for Minnesota as a free agent in 2012. I wore it to one game. Ugh.

1. Josh Brown
It was the Spring of 2007. I was out in the Spokane area for a job interview, and while I was at one of the local malls I spied a Josh Brown jersey and couldn't resist the urge to buy it. Yes, now we all know him as The Traitor Josh Brown, but at that moment, his jersey was irresistible to me. In 2005 and 2006, Brown kicked SIX game winning field goals on the final play or in OT. In 2006, I saw two of these dramatic victories in person (at Detroit and v STL). I thought it would be really cool and unique to wear a kicker's jersey, and I thought #3 looked EXTREMELY good on me.

I had the fucking jersey for one year, then that little bastard bolted for St. Louis. I couldn't unload that thing on eBay fast enough.

Worst Unloadings

I used to have a HUGE problem with getting rid of Seahawks jerseys on eBay in times of financial need (or just when I was momentarily pissed at a player). I'm done with that crap. From now on, I plan to hold onto jerseys that I buy, simply because I don't know what the future will hold. Here's a few examples of how I learned this lesson...

BONUS NEAR MISS: I almost got rid of my Matt Hasselbeck jersey in 2011, but my friend Katie saved me from a grievous error I would have immediately regretted.

5. Ricky Watters
As I've said in this space before, I have very fond memories of Ricky Watters' years in Seattle. Every time I see a Twelve in a Watters jersey I think "that's DOPE!" I could be one of those people, but I unloaded my Watters jersey after he got eclipsed by Shaun Alexander. I'm not the best at long-term thinking, am I?

4. Warren Moon
I loved my Warren Moon jersey. I bought it at the height of his Seattle tenure, and the combo of that old school Seahawks royal blue and the number 1 just looked SHARP. After the 1998 season, it was clear that Jon Kitna was the (short term) QB of the future, and Moon left to play out the rest of his career in Kansas City. In a stupid and short-sighted move, I just unloaded the jersey onto my best friend's girlfriend, who couldn't have given less of a fuck about football but wanted the jersey to use as a nightgown. Fuck! If I still had that jersey I'd wear the SHIT out of it.

3. Cortez Kennedy and 2. Walter Jones
Holy shit. Why did I get rid of the jerseys of two of the top three players in franchise history? I don't even remember now.

1. Dave Krieg
In 2001, I sprung for a custom Dave Krieg road replica jersey. It was pricey, but that was the last year you could easily get customized "old school" Seahawks jerseys from NFL Shop, so I made it happen. The problem was I could only get it in a medium, and even at that time it was a snug fit. I remember letting my friend Katie wear it to a game in 2003 because she could actually fit in it (and she was SHOWERED with compliments on it, by the way). Unfortunately, I got even fatter and when I needed money at some point in 2004 I unloaded it. That was really fucking stupid, particularly since Krieg is my all-time favorite Seahawks player, and at some point I might actually fit into a medium jersey again. *sigh*

What are your stories of jersey regret? Share them in the comments!