November 17, 2016

Seahawks 31, Patriots 24

If you voted for Donald Trump, you may want to stop reading here. Hell, if you voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or no one, you might want to find another source of overly personal Seahawks commentary peppered with dorky pop culture references.

OK, you've been given fair warning. I don't write this blog for clicks or for profit. That train sailed off looong ago. I really don't care if conservatives, misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes or white nationalists stop reading my blog. A Seahawks blog written by a leftist, polyamorous, queer, atheist trans woman? I'm guessing if you had an inkling to vote for Tangerine Mussolini, you already stopped reading my stuff back in like 2012 at the latest.

(I will say this - I do believe that we on the left should partner with Republicans who are willing to join us in opposing Trump and his agenda. If we join together to cause his nefarious strategy to fail, we can sort things out amongst ourselves later.)

On that Monday night before election day, after we pulled out that win against the Bills, I went to sleep believing that I lived in a country that respected my basic dignity and personhood. Sure, there were swaths of the nation still marinating in ignorance about and hatred towards trans folks. Of course there were forces plotting against us. However, under the Obama administration, we made great strides on many fronts in the fight for trans rights. Trans people enjoyed increasing (and increasingly positive) public visibility, and the future looked bright for us. A Clinton administration would have consolidated the gains we've already made, and would have entrenched justices who would have been friendly to my community.

By Tuesday night, it was all gone. The country I thought I lived in felt like it had never really existed. In late January, Donald Trump can follow through on his pledge to repeal all of Obama's executive orders. After he is sworn in, he can nominate judges that not only will stop Federal progress on trans rights in its tracks, but who could also use "religious freedom" as a pretext to gut laws that protect trans rights on the local and state levels nationwide.

Trans folks are TERRIFIED right now. Not only is the policy environment about to pivot into overt hostility toward us, but we are already seeing an increase in hate crimes towards trans and gender non-conforming people sea to jittery, trigger-happy sea. I was the subject of a brutal, coordinated attack on twitter led by Trump-supporting transphobic white nationalists just days ago. Oh boy, did my block button get a workout!

I never felt like I needed to get the gender marker on my Washington State birth certificate changed. Now I do. I never felt like I needed a passport before. Now I do. I never thought I would need to pack a "go bag" for if the shit hit the fan. Now I do. I don't want to leave Columbus. I love it here. I love my city and my country, but I have to be prepared for the possible moment when I have to flee to avoid living in the Berlin plotline from season 2 of Transparent.

So what's the game plan? Resist. Obstruct. Organize. Be seen. Be heard. Agitate. I'm optimistic that we can survive a few years of Trump and save the Republic. But I'm mindful that I still need to work, that I still need to tend to my family, my relationships, and my friends, and that I need to engage in self-care.

For me, Twelving the Fuck Out is a great coping mechanism.

At so many points in my life, the Seahawks have provided me with joy, with a feeling of community, and with a comforting sense of continuity while it felt like change was beating the god damn shit outta me.

In my childhood, when I felt like an alien, rooting for the Seahawks helped me relate to my family and find my own voice. In college, 12ing was an act of defiance and a scream of independence. After the 9/11 attacks and through the Bush years, the team was a welcome distraction from the grind of graduate school and an era of torture, darkness, and venality. The realization that I could transition and still write this blog, and continue waving my 12th Man Flag changed my life forever, and for the better.

So on Sunday night, I had never needed the Seahawks to win a regular-season game so badly. Not only because of the scars of XLIX, but also because New England's coach and quarterback supported the candidate who wants to make my life immensely more difficult and dangerous.

Arrayed against New England? Our stalwart side. Our quarterback who supports trans rights. Our coach whose worldview couldn't possibly be more Californian. Our Democratic-donating owner. Our outspoken cornerback reviled by conservatives, and so on.

Obviously, some Patriots supported Clinton, and some Seahawks probably backed Trump. And even if the Seahawks were arch-conservative, I'd still root for the team unless they started spouting out blatantly transphobic bile. But the symbolism was powerful nonetheless, and beyond that, the Hawks assumed the role of heavy underdogs. Very few people expected them to emerge from Foxborough victorious.

On the biggest stage you can possibly imagine in the regular season, the Seahawks played their best game of the year. Russell Wilson outplayed Tom Brady. Doug Baldwin TORCHED the New England secondary. C.J. Prosise went supernova in his first extended action. But the story, as usual, was that defense.

That defense that hit Gronk so hard his soul escaped out through his word-hole. That defense that harassed the Golden Brady over and over and over. That defense that was once again asked to save the day. ONCE AGAIN asked to defend every blade of grass, every inch of turf, to preserve a victory.

First and goal from the one. New England needed ONE YARD to tie the game. One yard to force an overtime period where they could once again crush the dreams of every 12 from Anchorage to Boise. Somehow, the Legion held its ground. On four plays in a row, they prevented one of the most powerful offensive attacks of all time from gaining that single crucial yard.

After the win. I was too emotionally exhausted to even cry, but I can't think of a more meaningful or important regular season win in franchise history (obviously, the historical significance of the victory will be tied to how successful the Hawks are in the playoffs). I'm 41 years old. I'm a grown woman. I have boring but daunting adult-style problems surrounding me at all times. But I can honestly say that I've never been more proud of the Seahawks than I am right now. I've never been this filled with adoration or love for our boys, either. The values they represent are MY values. The people they play for are MY people. I want to savor every moment I have the privilege of watching them and wearing their colors.

Hard times lay ahead. Our future is struggle. But for me, one thing that will sustain me and keep me going is this amazing, indomitable football team. In January, an ignorant, unqualified, hateful bully will start leading this country. Sometime next spring, I have a gut feeling many of the World Champion Seattle Seahawks will skip the trip to meet Trump at the White House.

Don't lose hope. I'm not going anywhere. Like Kate McKinnon said - "I'm not giving up, and neither should you."

Would You Like To Know More?

October 24, 2016

Seahawks 6, Cardinals 6 (OT)

How do you choose to feel? I've been thinking about that a lot lately. In a lot of situations, it doesn't seem like that's something one can control. I certainly can't most of the time. But when you can muster the focus, choosing how to feel can make a big difference in how you see the world around you. 

I've been thinking about the election. As a long-standing member of the Democratic Party and as someone who believes Barack Obama is the best President of my lifetime (and if you are LGBTQ, he obviously is more or less our FDR), I wanted someone like Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren to take office in January and consolidate/expand upon the progress we've made over the last eight years. Hillary Clinton wouldn't have been my first (or second) choice, but compared to the Tangerine Mussolini she is running against, she's the VASTLY more palatable alternative.

Imagine the election as a choice between two options for dinner. Hillary Clinton is Chipotle. It's not the BEST option one can imagine, but it's alright. Trump is the other choice, which is a plate of steaming dog shit topped with shards of broken glass. Like most people, I think a fairly "meh" burrito is an easy choice over mouth-shredding animal feces. Inexplicably, I know far too many people whose reaction to this choice seems to be "WHAT??? I can't have lobster??? Well I hope all you fuckers like razor-sharp glass encrusted with turd nuggets, because you deserve it!" 

Some people can't help letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. 

I also think about my life as a trans woman. Do I sometimes think that my life might have been better if I had transitioned, say, back in high school rather than in my late 30s? Not really. All those experiences made me who I am today. But it would be really easy to let myself get eaten up by regret and "what ifs." It takes WORK to stay positive and focused on the present and the possible. It takes effort to not react to getting misgendered and disrespected by filling up a mental compartment of bitterness and recrimination. When you live in a society that treats you with mockery and hostility, you can get poisoned by it. 

What I'm going to say next will sound downright silly, crazy and frivolous to anyone who isn't a rabid 12... But rooting for this team has made me a better person- Specifically, seeing what this team has evolved into under Pete Carroll has made me think harder about how I want to approach my life. 

At the VMAC this week, they'll focus on what the team needs to correct- As they should. They'll do their best to fix the offensive line issues that have been exposed when that unit has gone up against fierce front fours like those from Miami, Los Angeles and Arizona. Stephen Hauschka will work his ass off to get his season back on track. Russell Wilson and Thomas Rawls will keep diligently rehabbing to get back to 100% and get back on the field, respectively. In Renton this week, they'll focus on the team's shortcomings to get ready for their upcoming trip to New Orleans and for the rest of this season. 

I don't want to dwell on any of that. I want to talk about two things: A defense that, without hyperbole, delivered one of the best performances of all time - And a collective refusal to relent, to give up as much as millimeter without a vicious fight, when the temptation to roll over and get 'em next time must have been irresistible.  

The next time someone misgenders me, I'm going to think about Kelcie McCray - He was on the field for 108(!) plays last night. Most importantly, in overtime, exhausted, lungs burning, he ran down J.J. Nelson and prevented him from scoring the game-winning TD for the Cardinals. He didn't give up, and neither should I. 

The next time I don't feel like hitting the gym, I'll think about what that defense did when they were on the field for 90 PLAYS and over 46 of the game's 75 minutes. They only allowed 4.9 yards per play. They only allowed 6 points. If they can do that, I can drive to Planet Fitness and pump my legs on the Hamster Wheel for an hour. 

When I don't feel like giving people rides to the polls between now and November 8th, I'm going to think about Bobby Wagner's 13 tackles and his blocked field goal. I'm going to think about Cliff Avril's 2.5 sacks and six hits on Carson Palmer, I'm going to think about that epic goal line stand in overtime, where Earl Thomas and then Bobby Wagner stopped David Johnson INCHES from the winning TD on successive plays before Bwagz spooked Catanzaro into clanging a 24-yard kick off the upright. The Seattle defense has shown us over and over again that every fucking inch of that turf is precious- And I'm going to do my best to make sure Ohio avoids the taint of Trump in the history books. 

The next time I don't feel like I have anything interesting to blog about, I'm going to think about how the Seahawks CONSTANTLY are showing us things that no one has ever seen before. The first tie in franchise history. 75 minutes of indomitable willpower. The 4th game out of six thus far this season where the outcome wasn't decided until the final moments. The Seattle Seahawks are boundlessly frustrating but also relentlessly compelling. 

Last night will be a game we remember forever. It somehow morphed from a shitshow into some weird master class on Seattle grit. Also, the tie perhaps mortally wounded Arizona's hopes of winning the NFC West. 4-1-1 > 3-3-1, obviously. Which is great, because fuck Bruce Arians. That mother fucker can bite shit and pound sand. He's approaching Jim Harbaugh levels of hate in my book with his fake-ass football hipster crap. 

When we look back in January 2017, that OT goal line stand could end up delivering the Hawks the division title, a first round bye, or even home field in the NFC playoffs. This might seem bizarre for me to say this after last night - but I'm more convinced than ever that these Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl.

We won't have to wonder how to feel in Houston on February 5, Twelves. 

Would you like to know more?

October 2, 2016

Seahawks 27, Jets 17

Ryan Fitzpatrick was having nice afternoon. 

He was coming off a 6-interception disaster at Arrowhead, but through 3 quarters against one of the league's toughest defenses he not only had been effective, but he was doing something not even the most elite quarterbacks could do - He was picking on Richard Sherman. 

Fitzpatrick had challenged Sherman, and had completed four passes to Brandon Marshall, including a gorgeous touchdown strike late in the first half. Was Sherman just having a bad day? Was Brandon Marshall just playing out of his mind? Was Fitzpatrick having a career day? Was Sherm... GASP... Slipping?

Early in the 4th quarter, the Seahawks were holding onto a 17-10 lead, but it felt tenuous. It felt like the game was trending towards New York. In three-plus decades as a 12, I hadn't seen a road victory over the Jets since I was eight years old. I had seen crushing defeats in '85, in '87 (a humiliating loss on MNF), in '98 (I don't need to explain that one), in '99 (when a win would have clinched the AFC West - We had root for Oakland in order to back in... Barf) and in '04 (one of the low points in the most frustrating division-winning season anyone could imagine). 

The Jets had the ball near midfield. Marshall blatantly pushed off Sherman, but the pass interference flag flew against Seattle, not New York. It was just one of many questionable calls against the Seahawks by a shaky officiating crew. Even the FOX broadcast team was stunned. If at that point, the Hawks lost their grip on the game, it would have fit a painful but familiar narrative. Not a great road team. Hard for them to win those 10 am pacific east coast games. And so on. 

Maybe for a moment, after he was gifted an ill-gotten PI flag, Ryan Fitzpatrick thought that he could do no wrong. Maybe he thought that he could keep picking on Richard Sherman. 

But he forgot that he was just a guy. He forgot that the most notable Jets quarterback since Joe Namath has been Flash Gordon. He forgot that he was up against the best corner in the game. He once again threw it in Marshall's direction- Only to have it snared out of the New Jersey sky by Richard Sherman. 

In my Columbus apartment, I went WWE-interview-level apeshit - Pumping my first and shouting "Fuck yeah!" at least a dozen times. It was instantly one of my favorite moments in Sherman's Canton-bound career, and the Hawks immediately capitalized and took complete control of the game.

Why did they do that? Because OUR quarterback is ANYTHING but "just a guy." Russell Carrington Wilson is incessantly maligned. He is consistently underrated. Pundits and bobbleheads find nothing more enjoyable than informing the world that he is "good but not elite." The WolfBadger was playing with a high ankle sprain and a strained MCL. Those injuries would send most players to the inactive list, at least for a few weeks... But RW3 was playing. Surely though, he was in trouble. He wouldn't be able to run away from that fearsome New York pass rush. Good, but not elite. 

309 yards and three touchdowns later, the conventional wisdom was shredded. Yes, Wilson could slay you with his arm alone. Give him weapons like Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin and it didn't matter that he was short or anchored to the pocket. He would just bleed you all day long, because Angry Doug aint gonna drop the ball and Graham is like The Incredible Hulk with tackified gloves. We are witnessing something glorious - The Leveling Up of Russell Wilson. After a performance like the one he delivered at MetLife Stadium today, no fair-minded observer can deny that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. 

Of course he didn't do it alone - Graham had another 100-yard day, and Christine "The Awakening" Michael had 90 yards and a TD on 23 touches. The defense absolutely strangled New York in the second half - The Jets' only score after halftime was on a bizarre fumble recovery after a Seattle strip-sack. Sherman got a second interception later in the 4th quarter, and Earl Thomas got another pick of his own, too. 

The Seahawks go into their bye week tied for first in the NFC West with the surprising Los Angeles Rams (and with a 2-game lead over the Cardinals and Niners). They'll come back in two weeks spry, rested, and healthy - and ready to lay waste to the rest of the NFL. This is the best defense in football, and now they are starting to rack up the takeaways. A healthy Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham will terrorize opposing defenses, and Seattle will make a run at securing home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. 

Enjoy the bye week, 12s, Kick back and watch some Red Zone Channel next Sunday, root against the Rams, etc. When our boys come back on October 16, it'll be the start of a 4-month march to Houston. It will be wonderful, and violent, and glorious. 

Would you like to know more?

September 19, 2016

Rams 9, Seahawks 3

The weird alchemy that has allowed the deeply mediocre Jeff Fisher Rams to beat the mighty Seahawks most of the time apparently continues to hold sway after a profoundly frustrating 9-3 defeat in Seattle's return to the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Against the Seahawks, the Fisher Rams are 5-4, against the rest of the football universe they are an abysmal 23-33-1. It's not a stretch to argue those wins against Seattle are what has kept Fisher employed by Stan Kroenke - Fisher is a garbage coach whose teams have only posted two winning seasons in the past decade (and the last one was in 2008). A win or two a season against a divisional rival/perennial contender like the Seahawks is juuuuuuuuust enough to take to your owner and say "See! We beat Seattle! And we went 8-8. Good times are just around the corner."

When these teams meet again on Thursday Night Football in December, the Seahawks will blind millions of viewers with their "Action Green" abominations uniforms, and probably roll in with something like a 9-4 record. Los Angeles will probably be 6-7 or worse... And that game will probably be decided in the 4th quarter because at some point Jeff Fisher clearly leased part of his soul to Lucifer in exchange for victories over a team with better talent, better coaching, and better ownership.

Anyway, let's talk about that game, if we must.

So much of this is familiar, isn't it? The early season offensive struggles. The howls about the state of the offensive line and the quality of Bevell's playcalling. The proclamations of imminent doom. My refutations of said proclamations. ZZZzzzzzzz...

The short version? It actually will be OK. We're 1-1, but so are all our main rivals for the NFC's #1 seed (Arizona, Green Bay, and Carolina. Apologies if I don't take a hobbled Minnesota side and dubiously 2-0 Giants squad seriously yet). The Seahawks have three winnable games (Santa Clara, at the Jets, Atlanta) and a badly-needed bye before a huge late October SNF dust-up with the Cardinals.

The defense? Yes, they've only allowed one touchdown and 19 total points in two games. The run defense is stout and the pass rush seems fiercer than at this point a year ago. There's little indication that they'll be any worse than a top-5 unit this season. However, they are still vulnerable to big plays from opposing tight ends, and they haven't yet forced a turnover this season. As well as they've played, we need them to reach another level to keep winning games while the offense struggles.

The offensive line is going through its (sadly) regularly scheduled struggles. The biggest concern isn't the running game (though that has been fairly anemic), but the long-term health of Russell Wilson. We've already seen him sprain his ankle, thus limiting his mobility and hampering his accuracy. We've already seen multiple quarterbacks around the league go down for varying lengths of time. At this point, we are playing with matches in a kerosene-soaked branch of Dunder-Mifflin, just crossing our fingers and hoping we can get to the bye week without the WolfBadger getting seriously injured.

Thomas Rawls left the game yesterday with a leg contusion (Wow - That sounds way worse than it actually is, doesn't it?), but even before then Christine Michael was running more effectively and with more authority - Only to somewhat spoil his promising performance by coughing up a game winning-drive-killing fumble late in the 4th quarter. Encouragingly, Jimmy Graham was worked more fully into the offensive game plan and Tyler Lockett returned from a knee injury to make a spectacular catch that put us in a position to steal the win (before CMike's fumble).

As usual, the gloom and doom pervading the fan base is unwarranted. We've seen this before, and it's nothing that hasn't kept this group from making deep playoff runs in the past. But we are one Russell Wilson injury away from a lost season, and that's the specter that is haunting my brain today. Hopefully against Santa Clara the offensive line can get enough push to establish the running game and keep RW3's exposure to wanton violence at a minimum.

What do you think, sirs?

September 14, 2016

You Can't Swim in a Town This Shallow

I know how I'm supposed to feel about the Rams moving to Los Angeles. I know I'm supposed to feel for the poor fans of St. Louis, who cruelly had their team snatched away from them. As a fan of a Seattle team, I've had a front-row seat for that sort of injustice. As we all know, our beloved Hawks almost bolted for Southern California in 1997. Some blogger even imagined what that would have been like a while back... And I agree with Richard Sherman that billionaire owners should be paying for their lavish new stadiums rather than relying on taxpayer funding (Easy for me to say, right? My team is set. Buckle up for more blatant hypocrisy!).

However... Eff St. Louis! The Cardinals moved there from Chicago, and they left. The Rams moved there from Los Angeles and then moved back. As Michael Bluth once said, "You really should lock that down." In addition, as I've said many times before, going to a game in St. Louis was like watching a football game inside a REALLY NICE brand new Costco (and one where all the local fans were preoccupied with the town's baseball team). Not exactly the best football atmosphere in America. 

On a brazenly selfish tip, the Rams moving to Los Angeles is a unalloyed good for our Seattle Seahawks. First, it eliminates an annual 10 am pacific kickoff. Second, it's a much shorter trip to L.A. from Seattle than from the Emerald City to STL. Third, the bad blood between the cities should amp up the rivalry. Finally, with Pete Carroll's ties to USC creating a LOT of 12s in greater Los Angeles in recent years, and with the ease of travel between SEA and LAX, I expect games at the Coliseum to feature frequent and quite audible chants of "SEA! HAWKS!!" 

Sidebar for all you new Los Angeles Rams fans - You don't get to brag about ANYTHING the team did in St. Louis. Nope. You didn't give a fuck when they won XXXIV. You weren't paying attention when the Mike Martz Rams were torturing us. So fuck off. Don't bring that shit. You're pretty much an expansion team - and unless you're at least 40 years old, I don't want to hear you blathering about how great Eric Dickerson was "for us" either. 

I'll admit I don't know a ton about Los Angeles. I've only visited once (when I was 12). Most of what I know about the area comes from pissy Death Cab For Cutie songs, the incredible documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, and my 20+ year obsession with the O.J. Simpson murder case (SERIOUSLY - You all need to watch both the FX series and the ESPN documentary ASAP). Sunday's game will go down at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and a sellout crowd of over 90,000 is expected to fill the ancient arena. I know a bit more about that... 

The Seahawks played exactly one game against the Rams in the Coliseum. WAYYYY back in 1976. The expansion Hawks were no match for L.A.'s perennial contenders (back in the 70s they had a nasty habit of being awesome until they had to go to Minneapolis in the playoffs, where they shattered like the frozen T-1000 in the 3rd act of Terminator 2), and they lost 45-6. This was so long ago that Tom Dempsey was the Rams' placekicker. Gerald Ford was still President. I was 18 months old. 

Of course, the Raiders moved into the Coliseum in 1982 and stayed until 1994. My earliest memory of the rivalry playing out in the Coliseum was our resounding defeat at the Raiders' hands in the 1983 AFC Championship Game. I was 8, those bastards made me cry, and a life-long hatred was forged. Here's our top 5 victories in the Coliseum (OK, our only five wins in the Coliseum...). Enjoy! 

What a mirage the start of the 1994 campaign was... Rick Mirer still seemed like he'd turn out to be a great NFL quarterback at this point. He fired three TD passes and racked up a 140.2 passer rating. Chris Warren churned out 112 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone twice as the Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 start. They'd excite the 12 Army with a 3-0 start... before going 3-10 the rest of the way. Head Coach Tom Flores would get shitcanned after the season, and with good cause. 

Seattle came from behind to win, outscoring the Silver and Black 17-3 in the final quarter. Curt Warner had one of his last great games, scoring a TD and running for 102 yards on 21 carries. Brian Blades accumulated 113 yards on seven catches, including the go-ahead score with just minutes remaining. 

The Raiders coughed up five turnovers, Curt Warner ran for over 100 yards, and the Hawks beat the eventual Super Bowl champs for the 2nd time in three weeks. As I mentioned earlier, they'd get payback in the AFC Championship Game a few months later. 

DAVE KRIEG STILL HAD HIS STRIKE BEARD! Yup, Krieg hadn't yet shaved off the bushy facewarmer he grew during the 1987 players' strike. Mudbone fired two touchdowns to Ray Butler, but the big star of the day was Curt Warner, who racked up 145 yards and scored twice himself. Fredd Young also snagged a pass from the unfortunately named Rusty Dilger and ran it in for six for good measure. 

L.A. and Seattle came into the Coliseum that day with a combined record of 15-15, but the winner would make the playoffs. On that damp, dreary, Seattle-like day, the Seahawks were playing for their first AFC West title. Both defenses seemed to have brought the wrong shoes for the muddy track... The teams traded scores all day, but the Hawks pulled ahead in the 4th and held on for the biggest regular-season road win in team history, keyed by a spectacular John L. Williams TD on a perfectly executed "middle screen." 

What about this Sunday's game? I expect the usual Seahawks-Rams bloodpisser, with Seattle coming out on top 17-15. Let's say Bobby Wagner stuffs a late 2-point conversion try by Todd Gurley to seal the win? 

What do you think, sirs? 

September 12, 2016

Seahawks 12, Dolphins 10

In my apartment, I have a framed poster from over 30 years ago. It looks like this (but mine isn't signed): 

First of all, how 1980s is that shit? You've got the obvious reference to the original Ghostbusters film, the reminder that the L.A. Raiders were our main rivals in 1984, and a pretty cheesy nod to the Rocky films (Did you ever want to watch a bunch of white people yelling at a movie screen like it was a live sporting event? You should have gone to see Rocky III or IV in the theater back then. Yipes). The Steve-Carrell-after-climbing-out-of-a-dumpster lookin' fella? That's Steve Largent. When he retired in 1989, he owned almost every receiving record in NFL history. Take a second and go watch this video about him... 

He was the first Seahawk to get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and before Walter Jones came along, he was the greatest player in franchise history. 27 years after he left the game, and after fundamental changes in the way the game is played that MASSIVELY increased wide receiver production, he still is the franchise leader in every significant receiving category. He was known for three things: His spectacular ability to catch almost everything thrown his way, his nose for the end zone, and his effectiveness at converting on third downs. 

Over a quarter century has passed, and we've seen nothing else like him. Even the very best Seattle receivers have missed something... Brian Blades? Reliable and productive. Bobby Engram? Same deal. Joey Galloway? Explosive but never really correctly utilized. Darrell Jackson? Underrated for sure, but not nearly as consistent as number 80 was. 

I'm here to tell you that today, in 2016, the Seattle Seahawks finally have a wideout in Largent's class. His name is Doug Baldwin. 

I can hear the howls from Anchorage to Boise already. No way! Not even close! And if you just give the numbers a cursory once over, Baldwin is nowhere near Largent's career numbers. But if you dig deeper, the parallels jump out at you. 

Largent was drafted in the 4th round by the Oilers, only to get traded near the end of his first training camp to the Seahawks for an 8th round pick (Yup - a pick so low that THEY DON'T EXIST ANYMORE). Doug Baldwin went undrafted out of Stanford and signed with Seattle as a free agent. Both players would lead the Seahawks in receptions and receiving yards in their rookie campaigns, 35 years apart. 

Largent was consistently underestimated because of lack of size and (perceived) lack of speed, while Baldwin led a group of Seattle receivers called "pedestrian" by ESPN's Cris Carter. Both used those slights as motivation - Largent largely silently (until he unloaded over a decade of pent-up fury upon Mike Harden) and Baldwin very loudly and publicly

Largent's numbers swelled in the late 70s and early 80s, in part because he was BY FAR the team's most dangerous offensive weapon. Baldwin's career has followed a different trajectory, in part because Marshawn Lynch had been the main focus (and the identity of) the Seattle attack. But since Lynch largely disappeared from the offense after his injuries in 2015, Baldwin's numbers have EXPLODED. Over his last 11 games, including the playoffs, Baldwin has 60 catches for 940 yards and 14 touchdowns. If you extrapolate those numbers into a 16-game season, that's 87 receptions for 1367 yards and 20 touchdowns. 

As great as Steve Largent was, he never had more than 79 catches in a season. 

As amazing as #80 was, he never had more than 1287 yards through the air in a season. 

As prolific a scorer as our favorite Golden Hurricane was, he never had more than 12 touchdowns in a season. 

We are witnessing Doug Baldwin go supernova, and it's glorious to behold. 

You know that poster I showed you up at the top? Just a few months before that, Largent had the defining moment of his career in the 1983 divisional playoff at Miami. The underdog Hawks trailed the Dolphins 20-17 late in the 4th quarter, and the so-called "Killer B's" had held Largent without a catch all day. At the biggest moment, though, Largent delivered. He snagged a reception on 3rd down that kept the drive alive, and finally got loose deep, snaring a perfect throw from Dave Krieg to set up Curt Warner's winning TD. 

33 years later, playing for sliiiiiiightly lower stakes, Doug Baldwin stepped into the role of The Mighty Finkiller. Angry Doug had a fine performance overall, but with the Hawks trailing 10-6 with only minute left, a Largentian performance was needed to secure a victory. A hobbled Russell Wilson wouldn't be able to sprint for first downs - He'd have to get rid of the ball quickly to a reliable target. 

On 4th and 4 from midfield, the WolfBadger would find Baldwin over the middle to keep the drive alive. Later in the possession, Baldwin got down to the Miami 2. Two plays later he'd bring in a fade from RW3 to complete the comeback and crush Miami's dreams of stealing a win in Seahawks Stadium. Baldwin's day? Nine catches for 92 yards and the winning TD. 

Am I saying that Baldwin is better than Largent? Hell no. Am I saying that he's the best wide receiver we've seen since Largent, and he's on a trajectory that would at least someday make that debate less than laughable? Yup. 

Unless Wilson ends up missing significant time with that ankle injury (please Please PLEASE no), I'll boldly claim this: Doug Baldwin will have the best single-season receiving performance in franchise history in 2016. 

Won't be long until we see cheesy posters with Baldwin on them, bragging about how we're going to stomp Arizona's ass. Shit - Can someone with photoshop skills whip that up for me? :) 

What do you think, sirs? 

August 28, 2016

Russell Wilson and You

To be trans is to be alone.

It's feeling like you are different when you are 9. It's getting a clear message from your Dad when he goes SHITHOUSE on a dude at the hardware store who mistakenly thought you were a little girl. Whatever feelings you have are weird, and wrong, and dangerous. You aren't even close to sorting those feelings out, but you know it's a secret you have to conceal at all costs.

It's a cycle of confusion and depression and shame that leaves you feeling horribly isolated and disconnected. You find a thing that makes you feel connected to other people, though. You pour everything you have into it. You learn all you can about it. When you go on a bus trip from the Tri-Cities to Seattle for a Seahawks game when you are 11, you know more about the team than all the adults. You're a snot-nosed little shit who SCREAMS at the Steelers all the way through warm-ups from the Kingdome upper deck, either not knowing or not caring that they can't possibly hear you (You don't remember).

For three hours every fall weekend, you forgot those feelings you were pushing down inside yourself. You lost yourself in something bigger, and felt that connection that eluded you in every other facet of your life. You'd walk on air for days if they won. You'd sink into a deep funk all week after a loss. But you felt SOMETHING. Something other than the doubt you felt about your identity, your personhood, your existence. In fact, it becomes something that you use as a cudgel against those percolating feelings. You weren't like those characters on Jerry Springer. You weren't that girl from The Crying Game. You liked football! How could you be trans if you liked football? What was girly or feminine about that?

You tread water in your life. Jobs and people and relationships come and go, but two things are constant - The rumbling cloud of gender sadness that's always overhead, and your Seahawks. You're 25. You're 30. You're 35. As the rationalizations lose their power, and the sea walls in your psyche crumble, you're terrified. There are some rational reasons for your fear. If you are trans, you fear that you are FUCKED. You're a nerd, so you gather all the imformation you can. What you find out is bracing, to say the least.

You can get fired for being trans. You can get kicked out of your apartment for being trans. You'll likely lose family, friends and more. You read horrifying statistics (disturbing in general, but gobsmackingly catastrophic for trans women of color) - about how the unemployment rates and levels of poverty for trans people are much higher than the general population. About how over half of trans people reported being verbally harassed in public, About how a toxic stew of discrimination, limited resources, and constricted life options led to trans people living with HIV at a rate FOUR TIMES HIGHER than the rest of the population. How FORTY-ONE PERCENT of trans people attempt suicide (compared to 1.6% of the general population). In fact, you are told more than once that being trans is such a treacherous life path that you should only step upon it if it's a choice between that and suicide.

You finally get to a point where you feel like you can try to reconcile all these various parts of yourself. You start living authentically and you find that you CAN be trans and a Twelve. It's glorious. You come out on your blog, and the response is overwhelmingly positive. You start presenting your authentic self just six weeks before the Seahawks finally win a Super Bowl. You're in the house when Sherm tips the ball to Smith. You witness 43-8 and you break down in tears afterwards, feeling like they were waiting for YOU TO BE READY before finally hoisting that Lombardi Trophy.

You notice that slowly but surely, things were changing. You see signs of progress. You see, for the first time, that the President of the United States gives a crap about people like you, and actually does quite a bit to help you out. You're a positive, optimistic sort, so you see things going on a trajectory that bends toward freedom.

But progress provokes backlash, both socially and politically. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, are murdered simply for being themselves at an alarming rate. States like North Carolina pass draconian laws that criminalize people like me using the bathroom, and the official position of the Raleigh government is that you must be "delusional" and unworthy of full citizenship.

Back home, there was an effort to pass a similar law in Washington State. You did what you could. You gave money to the effort to keep that shit off the ballot. And you succeeded! Hooray. But even back in the Evergreen State, there were far too many people marinating in ignorance, hatred, and fear of trans folks. You wondered when the anvil would fall - when would someone on your beloved Seahawks say something brazenly, openly transphobic?

You looked around and saw that far too many NFL players, coaches and owners held retrograde views- some even supported the vile Tangerine Mussolini Donald Trump. Sure, your owner is a huge Democratic donor, your coach supported Obama openly, and one of your defensive superstars backed Bernie - But when would a Seahawk say something disgusting about people like you? It seemed inevitable.

You see on the news that a trans woman of color was murdered right here in Columbus. It hits way too close to home. You go to a vigil for Rae'Lynn Thomas. Your pain is nothing compared to that of her family and friends. You don't face nearly the same discrimination and danger that trans women of color face, but you feel powerless and hopeless. You feel darkness encroaching.

Your favorite player is Russell Wilson. You've always had a thing for quarterbacks, from Dave Krieg to Matt Hasselbeck to the WolfBadger. You love that he PROVED YOU WRONG about him (along with every NFL team that passed on the chance to draft him multiple times). You love how electrifying he is on the field. You think he's handsome and personable. Your kids seem immediately drawn to him. You love that he WINS. He seems to do damn near nothing but win, and he does it with style and flair.

But you worry. He's pretty religious. Sadly, it feels like there's a correlation between certain American flavors of Christianity and transphobic attitudes. He's also very controlled and corporate in terms of his public persona. Was there some hidden reservoir of hate within him that he smartly concealed from a fan base that contains a huge number of LGBT folks and their straight cis allies?

Then you see the piece in Pro Football Talk. With his new wife Ciara, Wilson decided to move his wedding out of North Carolina because of that hateful "bathroom bill" that dehumanized people like me in the Tarheel State. When asked about it, RW3 said “I just believe that Jesus loves all people. That’s honestly what I believe.”

As an activist, part of you wishes that he would have delivered an impassioned rant about the injustice of laws like HB2, but you're still ecstatic. You know that this is still a big deal - Not just to you, but to every trans person who wears College Blue, Wolf Grey, and Action Green. You know that Wilson has roots in North Carolina, and he must not have decided to move his wedding lightly.

YOUR FAVORITE PLAYER DOESN'T HATE PEOPLE LIKE YOU. That might sound like an unbelieveably low bar to clear, but it means everything to you. Can you imagine being a Patriots fan (BARF) and having to root for Trump-loving Brady (BAAAAAAARF)? You trash those plans for buying a Baldwin jersey (Sorry, Angry Doug), because for a good long spell, all you are going to wear is nothing but #3 and #12.

You see that minds are already changing on this. You see the Seahawks Stadium chef who had previously spewed ignorant bile do a near-tearful 180. You feel a little bit of hope again.

You're not alone.

August 17, 2016

Your 2016 Seattle Seahawks Jersey Buying Guide

The Seahawks host their first preseason game of 2016 Thursday night, and I'm sure many of you are agonizing over what new jersey you want to snag and show off on gameday. Thankfully, I'm here to help! While it's perfectly cromulent to go with a #12 Fan jersey, I don't like to have that as the only jersey in my closet - Doing that makes me feel like I'm not sufficiently invested in the players who are currently on the team. I'm in the market for a new jersey myself this year, so let's look at the players you should avoid, and the ones that'll make your fellow 12s say "Damn. That's bad-ass." First, the general information and admonitions...

As usual, let's start with the 1st Commandment of jersey ownership: NEVER PUT YOUR JERSEY IN THE DRYER! Dryers kill jerseys! Don't do it under any circumstances. If you abide by this decree your jersey(s) should hold up for a nice, long spell. If possible, wash them on the delicate cycle in cold water by themselves. I also feel strongly that there's no compelling reason to opt for the more opulent Nike models. The $100 replicas ("game" jerseys) are plenty expensive enough, and will look sharp for years with proper care. If you are lucky enough to fit into a "youth" size, those are only about $70.

Like many of you, I've felt the sting of buying a jersey just to see that player get seriously injured (I for one have a weird thing about not wanting to wear an injured player's jersey) or leave Seattle a year (or less) later. My hope is that with this guide, I'll help you get a jersey that A) will be a good investment for years to come and B) will make you stand out from the crowd a bit.

I love me some Michael Bennett, but his continued (and frankly justified) grousing about his contract situation, coupled with PCJS's fearlessness about cutting loose ANYONE who fucks with their plan or with team chemistry, would make me wait on buying Black Santa's jersey at the moment. I'd also stay away from Brandon Browner. He's not a supreme lock to make the 53-man roster, he's a free agent after the season, and I'm not entirely over the fact that he helped beat us in XLIX. Other notable pending free agents include Steven Hauschka, Luke Willson, Tharold Simon, Christine Michael, Marcus Burley, and Deshawn Shead. I'm excited about Paul Richardson, but I'd still be hesitant to buy his jersey coming off a 2nd consecutive season-ending injury. I have similar concerns about Jimmy Graham. Finally, I just have a general principle against buying rookie jerseys, so I'd avoid snaring any of those at this point. OK - Who SHOULD you buy? Here's the Top 10:

10. Russell Wilson

The face of the franchise. Unquestionably an elite quarterback after the way he scorched the league in the 2nd half of last season. But... if you don't already have a Russell Wilson jersey, you probably don't actually want one all that badly, do you?

9. Kam Chancellor 
I adore Bam Bam Kam. He saved us against Detroit. He caused the takeaway that led to the playoff win in Minnesota. He's the baddest, toughest, most intimidating player around every time he steps onto the field. However, he's injury plagued. He's a free agent after 2017 and his long-term future in Seattle is unclear at this point. Be a bit wary here.

8. Cliff Avril
Unlike his pass-rushing linemate, Avril is under contract through 2018. He racked up nine sacks last season, and remains one of the most fearsome defensive ends in football. As a bonus, Seahawks Stadium isn't at all saturated with #56 jerseys yet - So you'll stand out sporting an Avril jersey.

7. Richard Sherman 
Still the best corner in the game. Still outspoken. Still on a trajectory that ends in Canton, Ohio. Under contract through 2018. Only problem? A LOT of 12s already have his jersey.

6. Earl Thomas
Finally, it looks like Ken Easley might get his bust in the Hall of Fame next year. Someday, Earl Thomas will be the 2nd Seahawks safety to be inducted. He's under contract through 2018 so this is still a great time to buy in on the quiet leader of the Legion of Boom.

5. Bobby Wagner 
Our all-world middle linebacker is at his career peak and is under team control until 2020. If you haven't snapped up a #54 jersey, this is a perfect time to make that leap.

4. Tyler Lockett
Flash was not just a spectacular kick returner in his rookie campaign, but also a shockingly reliable and productive wideout. Big things are rightfully expected of him in 2016 and beyond, and with him under contract through 2018, his jersey would be a wise investment.

3. Thomas Rawls
Contradiction time! You know how I said earlier to steer clear of players coming off injuries? I'm making an exception for Rawls. The kid was an absolute MONSTER in just a handful of starts last season, and I'm convinced that if it wasn't for his ankle injury in Baltimore, we would have advanced to our third straight Super Bowl. He won't be asked to carry the entire load of the running game this season, but he WILL hoist the Lombardi Trophy next February. The ankle issue is the only reason he's not higher on this list.

2. Jon Ryan
Before he got chased off social media by bigots, he was a great follow. He's LGBT-friendly. He's one of the very best punters in the game. He throws touchdown passes in playoff games and taunts the opposing team afterwards. He's Canadian, and thus probably my fake boyfriend Justin Trudeau's favorite NFL player. What's not to love? :)

1. Doug Baldwin
Angry Doug has been a fan favorite for a long time. He burst onto the scene back in 2011 as an undrafted free agent and quickly endeared himself to the 12 Army. I'll never forget an early social media post where he took a picture with a Twelve at Target and was wearing a Seahawks sweatshirt - He wears free clothes he gets from work! NFL players! They're just like us!

He's always been a solid performer, but in the 2nd half of last season he leveled up - He became Russell Wilson's favorite target and scored 14 touchdowns while also notching his first 1000-yard campaign. Now he's locked up until the 2020 season, and I expect us to see him deliver a lot more moments like that game-winning touchdown against Pittsburgh last season. Thus, he's my top choice for a new jersey purchase this season.

Did I miss anyone obvious? Let me know in the comments!

What do you think, sirs?

August 7, 2016

Waking up, Waking up from shutdown

The 2016 NFL season kicks off tonight, and this will be my 20th season as a Seahawks season ticket holder. It's not coincidental that I got season tickets when Paul Allen bought the team. After years of neglect and sabotage from Californian Carpetbagger Ken Behring, Allen was desperate to rebuild a Seahawks fan base that had atrophied through the Forgotten Years of the 1990s. It got so bad that TV blackouts became commonplace (I remember driving outside the blackout zone to be able to watch games WAY too often), and the rare sellouts would happen when a team with a large national fan base rolled into the Kingdome.

Once Referendum 48 passed and Allen took over the franchise, he made a few sections of seats in the south end zone's upper deck rediculously cheap: $10. $200 for a pair of season tickets. I had just graduated from Western that spring, and in celebration of R-48's passage I snapped up a pair of seats in the VERY TOP ROW of the Dome's upper deck. I was staying in Bellingham to get my M.A. in Political Science (mainly because I never really wanted to leave).

I went to games there for only two full seasons. Despite starting off with one of the most humilating losses in franchise history, it wasn't that bad rooting on the Hawks from that perch. I could stand up the whole game if I wanted. There was a little area behind the seats where we could put all our stuff. You could make extra noise by banging on the metal panel behind my seats. OK, it sorta sucks, but I made the best of it. Of course, since we are talking about the tail end of the Dennis Erickson era, I got to see two fustrating 8-8 seasons. Warren Moon, Joey Galloway, Ricky Watters, Chad Brown, and others provided some highlights, but it was a familiar story for the Seahawks: Mediocrity as grey as the paint in our end zones. The arrival of Mike Holmgren in 1999 brought the first playoff home game in 15 years, but it was all too fitting that the Dome's last game was a bowel-churning playoff loss (to a Miami side that would lose by 55 POINTS the following week in the divisonal round).

Then we had two seasons of watching our team flail about in sideways needle rain at Husky Stadium. I had already moved to Columbus for more graduate school (No more degrees to get at Western, sadly), but I would schedule trips home around Seahawks home games as frequently as possible. That's how it's been now for 17 years.

Seahawks Stadium opened in 2002, and that means we've played 14 seasons in the loudest, most beautiful venue in the NFL. In that time, I've seen us go to the playoffs 10 times. I've personally been in the house for 5 playoff wins, including three NFC Championship Game victories. I've watched the franchise completely transform from one seemingly encased in 8-8 amber into FUCKING RAPTOR SQUAD.

Seattle enters the 2016 season with few glaring weaknesses (What happens if Russell Wilson goes down? Will the offensive line adequately protect him? Will they open up running lanes for Thomas Rawls? Will he still be able to dart through them after last December's injury?), and a lethal combination of youth, talent, experience and THIRST for another championship. Ask any Seahawk player, coach, or fan - One shitty half in Charlotte is the only reason last season didn't end in Santa Clara. Even after falling behind 31-0, our imdominable Hawks damn near won anyway. Why all the optimism?

Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin forged some sort of football nerd mind-meld and torched the whole league in the 2nd half of last season. RW3 removed any doubt that he is a true franchise quarterback - One of the top 5 signal callers in the game (I don't care what those bobblehead haters in the football press say). The WolfBadger has an obscene number of dangerous weapons - Beyond Angry Doug, there's also Flash Lockett, Big Game Jermaine, and weirdly half-forgotten Jimmy Graham.

Even with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, the Hawks should still be able to bludgeon the enemy via the running game with Rawls and whichever combination of promising rookies and Christine Michaels claws their way onto the 53-man roster. On defense, the original Legion of Boom has been reunited with the return of Brandon Browner, and it's absolutely likely that Seattle will have Top 5 units on offense, defense and special teams. Seattle's #1 ranking by Football Outsiders going into this season is completely deserved, and I'm calling it now: Next January the Hawks will defeat Pittsburgh to win Super Bowl LI.

I've been thinking a lot about the 49ers of the early 1980s lately. Not just because of their historical run of success, but because Bill Walsh so greatly influenced Pete Carroll. A young Niners team won a Super Bowl ahead of schedule in January 1982, followed by the weirdness of the strike-shortened 1982 season and a narrow loss in the 1983 NFC Championship game to D.C.

In 1984 they achieved an almost unprecedented level of dominance, going 15-1 with the #2 offense and #1 defense in the league. They capped that campaign by flattening Miami in XIX, but their run was far from over, and they'd win a total of four championships over a nine-year stretch. These Seahawks have similar potential.

I plan to share another magical season with all y'all here and over on my twitter feed. The hiatus is over. The Seahawks mean everything to me - But they mean the most when I am connected to my fellow Twelves. Expect much more content in this space over the next few months. Fell free to hit me with questions in the comments and GO HAWKS!!!

March 23, 2016

"Is that your boyfriend's jersey?" Sexism, Transmisogyny, and the Trials of being the 12th Woman

I just renewed my Seahawks season tickets for the 20th consecutive season. I'm tremendously excited and hopeful about the upcoming campaign, which I am certain will end in Houston will Russell Wilson hoisting another Lombardi Trophy. The face value of my south end zone tickets has climbed from $10 back in the Kingdome in 1997 to $55 in Seahawks Stadium in 2016... But they are still worth every penny. I'll be there for 2 or 3 games as usual this season (hopefully including another NFC Championship Game), and there's nothing I'm looking forward to over the next year than those trips back to Washington State to commune with my fellow 12s. But... Something has been weighing on my mind lately...

It's not easy being a woman who loves pro football. On a societal level, it's damn near impossible to disentangle the league from the sexism and misogyny that permeate our culture. There's the relative tolerance for domestic abuse. There's the mistreatment of women who are club employees. There's the lack of women in executive and coaching positions in the league (which doesn't even include the assumption that no women will ever play in the NFL- An assumption I believe is intellectually lazy to the core). There's the hamhanded/bordering-on-offensive attempts to pander to women Ugh. I could go on, but... Ugh.

On a individual level, it can get ridiculous. Men will see your Seahawks gear and ask you if you actually like the team, or if you just like the colors (Or they will ask you if it's your boyfriend's jersey). Men assume that you know NOTHING about your team, or about the sport. Demonstrate that you are actually more knowledgeable than they are, and out comes the salt shaker. Recently I was out with a group that included a male Broncos fan, and when he realized that I knew more about John Elway's career than he did, his attitude toward me got tart and sour instantly.

The league and bros in general seem puzzled that women can (and do) enjoy America's most popular sport. Forty-five percent of the league's U.S. television audience consists of women, but yet we are treated like interlopers or less-than-authentic oddities at Super Bowl parties, in fantasy football leagues, etc.

Less than authentic. As a trans woman, I know ALL about being seen as less than authentic. It's tough enough being a woman that loves football. Being a trans woman and liking football layers transphobia upon misogyny (or, as we call it in the business: transmisogyny). For one thing, the culture of the NFL is still pretty overtly hostile to the LGBT population of this country. One can just look at the public and private reactions to Michael Sam coming out as gay, or at the persistent panic among NFL teams that a single gay player might join their team (even though there are certainly closeted gay men playing in the NFL).

I've noticed an interesting recurring issue whenever someone finds out that I'm trans AND an NFL fan. First, people tend to assume that I'm ONLY an NFL fan because I was designated male at birth, and my Seahawks fandom is some sort of artifact of that. You can kind of see the light bulb go off in their heads "Ahh! That's why." This irks me for a couple of reasons: Millions of cis-gender women are NFL fans, and have been fans since childhood (shout-out to my Vikings-affiliated grad school bestie Natalie on this tip). Also, this fucked-up mentality helped delay my transition for YEARS. For the longest time, I thought "Well, I can't be trans if I love FOOTBALL." Even after I got over that, I was TERRIFIED that if and when I did transition, I would stop loving the Seahawks. Thankfully, I got over that shit and I even got to celebrate Super Bowl XLVIII as my authentic self.

There is often a vibe I get that I SHOULDN'T like football, even from other trans women. Weirdly, it makes some people think that I'm not entirely serious about my transition, or they think it makes me "less trans." One of the most important personal discoveries I've made is that it's OK to transition in my own idiosyncratic way, in part because there is no "one" right way to be a woman, and thus no single "correct" way to transition or to be a trans woman.

Still, unless I want to completely sequester myself from society (and as a Hillary Clinton-supporting, Target-shopping, Starbucks-sipping basic suburban bitch, that's not really an option for me), I must navigate a culture that is incredibly hostile to trans women, despite recent increases in visibility and some improvements in our legal status. There's the constant possibility that pop culture I consume might contain transphobic content (which... holy shit, even in 2016 it's EVERYWHERE). If it's something I've never watched, or something I didn't have a lot of interest in anyway, it's easy enough to avoid. It's much harder when that transphobic content shows up in something I otherwise love, and thenI have to then decide if I can forgive these sins (Archer, Bob's Burger's, Arrested Development, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia immediately come to mind, but there's always more).

Beyond cultural transphobia, there's the growing wave of transphobic legislation that's swamping people like me around the country. Back home in Washington State, there's an ongoing effort to get a measure on the November ballot that would make it illegal for me to use the bathroom the next time I go home for a Seahawks game (Don't sign the petition for it, by the way. Please keep that garbage from even making it onto the ballot).

Now we drill down to my most unspeakable fear. I know that Seahawks players, coaches, and executives might hold political opinions I disagree with. I accept this, but I just hope they won't say anything unconscionably abhorrent. I can handle a player I love being a Republican- I did that with Matt Hasselbeck for a decade, and I still adore the guy. Conversely, when someone like Michael Bennett comes out as a Bernie Sanders supporter, my heart soars. I'm afraid, particularly if that garbage bill makes it to the November ballot, that some Seahawks player might start spouting off with some virulently transphobic sewage. We're already seeing an outpouring of support for Donald Trump among current and former pro athletes, and he's leading an authoritarian political movement that seeks to restore a social and political order where people like me were at best invisible or at worst, umm, murdered. A lot.

So what would I do if some Seahawks player came out and said that I shouldn't be able to go to the bathroom in peace? What if they denied my basic personhood? Could I keep rooting for them? Could I keep rooting for the team they play for? I fervently hope I never find out. Being a Twelve is a CENTRAL part of my identity as a person, almost as central as my identity as a trans woman. It's connected me to my home, to my friends, to my family. It's been an island of consistency in my chaotic life. There is no institution I love more, or that I care about more, than the Seattle Seahawks.

How could I deal with something I love telling me that I don't count? That I don't matter? That I am hated?

If I'm lucky, I'll never have to find out.

January 13, 2016

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Panthers!

In my three-plus decades of Twelving, I've never been more confident that the Seahawks would win a road playoff game than I am going into the divisional playoff at Charlotte. Before the 2012 Wild Card Game, I was jittery because we hadn't won a road playoff game since 1983. Before last week, I was anxious because of the historically terrible weather conditions. 

This week? I'm not jittery or anxious. I look at a Panthers team that is perhaps the shakiest 15-1 team in NFL history and I don't feel a single twitch of fear. I see a Seattle team that will be relaxed, at full-strength, and has a SHITLOAD of recent success playing the Panthers in Charlotte. I see a stifling Seahawks defense eager to prove their meltdown in week 6 was an aberration. I see a Seattle quarterback who is surely, silently itching to show HE is the one who should be the presumptive NFL MVP.

I think we roll in a game that is less competitive than many are expecting. Seahawks 26, Panthers 14 feels about right. By Sunday evening we'll be one step closer to the restoration of the Emerald Empire...

We've played the Panthers 10 times, and won 7 of those battles... Here's a look back at the Top 5. Enjoy! 

Seattle was a trendy Super Bowl pick going into the 2013 season amongst the national media, and Russell Wilson's handsome visage was splashed across the covers of The USA Today, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and (I assume) British Vogue and Art Doll Quarterly. But then, as if the national bobbleheads had come to their senses after an ether binge, it became trendy to pick the Panthers as an "upset special" over the favored Seattleites in Week 1. Hey! Seattle has trouble in season openers! Hey! They suck at winning on the east coast, particularly with kickoff at 10 a.m. pacific time! Hey! They're the Seahawks! History tells us we won't have to pay attention to them much longer. They'll inevitably disappoint. Pick Carolina!

In the sweltering North Carolina heat, the Hawks indeed got off to a sluggish start. But when Wilson fired a perfect spiral to Jermaine Kearse for a 43-yard touchdown, Seattle held a 12-7 lead with 10 minutes left. The Panthers answered with an impressive 9-play, 72-yard march down to the Seahawks' 8-yard line. Then the L.O.B. did its thing- Earl Thomas wrested the ball away from DeAngelo Will1iams' mitts and disaster was averted. With five-plus minutes left, the offense needed to play keep-away to seal the win. 

The drive got off to an abysmal start when Marshawn Lynch was tackled for a 5-yard loss. But Wilson followed that up with completions to Derrick Coleman and Doug Baldwin to keep the drive alive. Wilson and Lynch teamed up on a 14-play drive than ran out the rest of the clock and started Seattle's march towards XLVIII with a hard-fought victory. 

The Seahawks were 3-3 and skidding through a 2-game losing streak. This was about when ESPN was filled with stories about Russell Wilson not being "black enough," and so on. It seemed like it would all come crumbling down with one more hard shove, with one more calamitous defeat. Seattle trailed 9-6 with just over four minutes left to play, On the ensuing 10-play, 80-yard drive, Wilson would complete passes to Cooper Helfet, Kevin Norwood, and Paul Richardson before drilling a touchdown strike to Luke Willson to give Seattle a 13-9 lead with only 53 seconds remaining. Back-to-back sacks by Bruce Irvin sealed the win, and yet again the Hawks wriggled out of the noose. 

Whenever I get too arrogant about my opinions related to our beloved Seahawks, remind me that I wanted Russell Wilson benched early in the 2012 season. I hadn't even wanted him to take on the starting job in the first place, and after an ugly performance/loss in St. Louis dropped Seattle to 2-2, I was more than ready to see Wilson get the hook in favor of Matt Flynn. 

I'm a dumbass. 

After a Charlotte pick-6 gave the Panthers the lead early in the 2nd half, I seethed with misplaced rage. Wilson actually had a solid day other than that, and found Golden Tate for the go-ahead score late in the 3rd quarter... But the story of this victory was authored by the defense, who allowed Cam Newton and the Cats to get all the way down to Seattle's 6-yard line. 1st and Goal. 18 feet from defeat. 

1st down: Newton stopped after a 3-yard gain. 

2nd down: DeAngelo Williams dropped for a loss of 3. 

3rd down: Brandon Browner and Marcus Trufant (Yes, for reals. He was still a Hawk in 2012) stop Louis Murphy just shy of the goal line. 

4th down: Less than a yard away. Instead of trying to score with their massive, agile QB, a pass is called. It falls incomplete. Seattle takes over inches from their own goal line with just 3 minutes left to play. 

What followed was an odd 7-play, 17-yard drive that ended in an intentional safety. Huh? Bruce Irvin settled matters with a sack-strip-recovery 2 plays later, and I was ecstatic to be proven wrong. 

Holy shit! Can you believe that the Hawks only led the 7-8-1 Panthers 14-10 going into the 4th quarter of this one? The Seahawks seemed to restore order when they built a 24-10 lead with 6 minutes left, but Charlotte promptly drove down to the Seattle 13-yard-line. Then Kam Bam'd and Bam'd... 

As I wrote at the time: 

Five years ago, Pete Carroll was hired as the Seahawks new head coach. He inherited a roster that was Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (so to speak). One seemingly small move in Carroll's complete demolition/rebuild of the Seahawks in 2010 was the 5th round selection of a safety out of Virgina Tech: Kam Chancellor. Seattle's starting safeties in 2009 were the serviceable duo of Jordan Babineaux and Deon Grant (whose average age was 28.5). Just like at every other position, Carroll's goal was to get younger/better/cheaper in the defensive backfield. Expectations were high for first-rounder Earl Thomas from Texas, but the former high school quarterback Chancellor slid into the 5th. The move into the secondary served Kam well with the Hokies, and he'd quickly build a reputation for wanton brutality once he reached the NFL. 

Bam Bam Kam has already made his mark in the league, being selected to three Pro Bowls, being named 2nd-team All-Pro twice, and surely haunting Vernon Davis' nightmares (among dozens of other offensive players). However, yesterday Chancellor delivered the best performance of his already illustrious career. He made 11 tackles, including an incredible individual effort to blow up a screen pass to DeAngelo Williams and a first down-denying hammering of sentient boulder Mike Tolbert. A bewildering flag denied him credit for an acrobatic blocked field goal at the end of the first half. With Charlotte deep in Seattle territory, and aiming to pull within 7 with six minutes left, Chancellor jumped the route and sped 90 yards for the clinching score.

A quick personal story about this one... 

I was at the game, and I was unfathomably nervous and jacked-up on Red Bull beforehand. I was in Touchdown City and they had this little obstacle course set up where you'd jump over a couple of hurdles and then take down a tackling dummy. When my turn came up I SPRINTED through the course and came at the dummy so hard that I actually flew over it and ended up face-planting ala Jon Ryan last week. I got up, dazed and a bit horrified. Someone handed me a free t-shirt. I was probably concussed. I was lucky I didn't knock out my teeth or end up watching the NFC Championship from an emergency room. 

Here I am after almost ruining everything: 

Here's my brother and I after the Seahawks clinched their first trip to the Super Bowl.. I cried a lot. 

So um... Yeah. Lots of changes since then... 

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January 11, 2016

Seahawks 10, Vikings 9

The best team won.

The team that gained more yards? They won.

The team that held the league's best running back to 45 yards on 23 carries? They won.

The team that fought back from a 9-point fourth-quarter deficit on the road not only in a hostile environment, but in one unfit for human habitation? They won.

The team with the better quarterback, whose improvisational skills turned a broken play into a season-saving masterpiece? They won.

The team with the receiver that did this? They won.                                                                                                            

The team with the future Hall-of-Fame safety who did this? They won. 

Sure, Blair Walsh should have made that kick. But that miss didn't take place on a holodeck. It happened in the most pressure-packed of situations- and not long after Richard Sherman came within nanometers of blocking an earlier kick. Snapper, holder and kicker were all likely thinking about that. The entire battery felt the weight of that moment. And they collapsed, burying Minnesota's season in frigid, jagged rubble. 

The popular imagination wants to distill the entire result down to that single moment, ignoring what the Seahawks did in order to be up by one with seconds remaining. The only Minnesota points on Sunday came after Seahawks miscues set the Vikings up with great field position. It would have been ridiculously easy for any visiting team playing in Sunday's inhumane, laughable conditions to fold after what befell the Seahawks early on. Lesser teams could have reacted to ANY ONE of a botched punt, a failed 4th-down conversion, or a 3rd-quarter drive-killing interception with slow-motion surrender. ALL THREE of those things happened to the Hawks, on top of their superstar running back (Marshawn Lynch) suddenly taking himself out of the starting line up on Friday. 

Negative six degrees. Down by nine. No Beast. No hope, right? 

There was a moment where even I thought "Shit. It's over." Early 4th quarter. The shotgun snap flies right past Russell Wilson's head and skitters 15 yards in the wrong direction. The prudent play? Fall on the ball. Even that probably would have been a drive-killer, and would have ended up burning precious minutes off the clock before Seattle got the ball back. With FIVE Vikings defenders closing, RW3 got up off the ground, scrambled right, and fired a pass downfield to Tyler Lockett an instant before getting absolutely blasted. 35-yard gain. Seattle was in position to score the games's lone touchdown. After Wilson once again found Doug Baldwin in the end zone, the Hawks were within 2. 

The Vikings decided to rely on their one true superstar to close out the win. They went to Adrian Peterson on the next two plays. Peterson is one of the best rushing talents the NFL has ever seen, but for the 2nd time in just over a month, he was absolutely embarrassed by the Legion of Boom. Kam Chancellor straight-up stole the ball out of Peterson's grip and set up Seattle for the go-ahead field goal (a 46-yarder absolutely DRILLED by Steven Hauschka- with assists from Clint Gresham and a bloodied-but unbowed Jon Ryan). 

The teams traded punts until the final two minutes. One more defensive stop would send the Seahawks to Charlotte for the NFC Divisional Playoff. Then a questionable pass interference call against Kam. Then Chancellor got beat by Kyle Rudolph to set the Vikings up well within Blair Walsh's range. I sank. I fell silent. I started composing the blogging equivalent of a concession speech in my head. The best-case scenario felt like getting the ball back with 20 seconds left and no time-outs. No chance. 

But the defense realized something I didn't: If they allowed a touchdown, defeat would be ensured. Hold them to a field goal try, and there was some tiny probability of survival. One last time, the Seattle defenders rose up, and they stopped Peterson just short of the sticks on 3rd down. Next, the formality of Walsh's winning kick. 

Here's a great article about why Walsh missed... The images will stay stamped into our brainpans forever: Sherm collapsed on the field. John Schneider kissing Pete Carroll and all but saying "Keep it. It suits you." Mike Morgan sprinting, arms splayed outward, in triumph. Michael Bennett standing in stunned silence after perhaps the best performance of his dominant career.  

Victory. Once again, Pete Carroll's Seahawks found some way to win when most of America was watching. For reference, here I am before the game, compared to right after Walsh's miss: 

I've seen some crazy shit in my 32 years of Twelving. I've seen last second wins at Arrowhead. I've seen Jay Feeley miss FOUR field goals in the 4th quarter and OT. I've seen Romo drop the snap. I've seen BeastQuakes. I've seen the greatest 4th-quarter comeback in NFC Championship Game history. If these Seahawks go on to win the Super Bowl, Walsh's miss will go down as one of the most important moments in franchise history... But NEVER forget this: This was a game the Seahawks RICHLY deserved to win. 

It's off to North Carolina to play the Paper Panthers, who have seemed ripe for a beatdown for the last few weeks. Bobby Wagner and Jeremy Lane didn't play when Charlotte edged us back in October, and Seattle's offense wasn't the mutant juggernaut it evolved into over the second half of the season. 

I'm ready for this. So are the Seahawks. It will be a meat-grinder of a game, and a stomach-churning three-plus hours for all us 12s- But Seattle will survive and advance. Why? 

Because the best team is going to win. 

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