October 29, 2018

Seahawks 28, Lions 14


One of the weirdest/most satisfying things about being a parent is being on the other side of something awesome that happened in your own childhood. I've written in this space before about the experience I had at my first Seahawks game back in 1983, when I was eight years old. I started watching the Hawks every week after the stirring near-comeback led by Dave Krieg against the Steelers at midseason, and the regular-season finale against the Patriots was my first trip to the Kingdome. The short version? Steve Largent scored, we won and made the playoffs for the first time ever, the team came out for a postgame victory lap, it was ((LOUD)) and I was enraptured forever. When I was little kid, then a tween, then a teenager, I got to experience so many indelible moments at Seahawks games.

I got to see Largent make one of the greatest catches I've ever seen against the Bears in '84. In '86, we went to the game on a bus from the Tri-Cities, and I wowed/annoyed all the adults with my voluminous knowledge of the NFL. Then, I got to watch us shut out Pittsburgh. I was in the house when Largent DESTROYED Mike Harden, and I was there for a MNF win over the Raiders in '88. These are some of the happiest memories of my life, and easily my favorite memories of spending time with my father.

When I had kids of my own, I hoped that they would also become 12s, but I certainly didn't expect it. Three years ago, I took my son to his first Seahawks game. The ending sucked (blowing a 17-point lead to the Bengals and losing in OT), but it was still a fun experience overall for my son, who was 9 at the time. He stayed interested in football and in the Seahawks, so a few months ago I asked him if he wanted to go to the game in Detroit. He said "yeeee" and gave me an exaggerated thumbs up. Did I mention that he already has a mustache and is taller than me? Life goes by pretty fast, as Ferris once said, so I was excited to stop and look at a Seahawks game with my kid.



This time around, he was much more engaged, and much more eager to ask questions and get up close to the field and the players. Since he's a good little contrarian, he told me that my favorite player (Russ) was "overrated." I rolled my eyes at that one. After hanging around near the tunnel and then behind the Seattle sideline before the game, we went up to our seats in the 300 level. This was our point of view:


We were pretty completely surrounded by Lions fans, but there was still a healthy smattering of 12s nearby. I explained the rules of rooting for the Seahawks on the road to my son again:

1. We are here to cheer for our team
2. We're not here to boo the home team
3. Don't be a jerk

Everywhere but Cleveland, these rules have served me well, and the Detroit fans yesterday were thankfully quite tame. Our guys murdersmacking the Lions around for most of the afternoon might have had something to do with that...

My kid asked me a ton of questions, and I explained what play-action passes were, and what various penalties were. He asked me why we didn't throw more passes, and I told him all about the Seahawks' style of play under Pete Carroll - Pound them with running plays, then go deeeeep, man. After RW3's third TD pass, he admitted that Wilson wasn't actually overrated. He got more and more vocal as the game went on, and LOST HIS MIND when Justin Coleman essentially sealed the win with that late pick at our own 1-yard-line. It's also worth noting that he thought Michael Dickson's "Aussie Sweep" was absolutely hilarious once I explained how rare that sort of play was, and how the punter probably just decided to run with it (and that's what really happened!).

After the Aussie Sweep, we went down to the area behind the tunnel to try to get his Seahawks hat autographed after the game. By that time, the bulk of the Lions fans had left, so it was mostly just exuberant overjoyed 12s remaining inside Ford Field. A "SEA!" "HAWKS!" chant broke out, and he joined in with a level of emotion I rarely see from him. He asked me if it was normal for this to happen at a game, and I told him that it really wasn't - Except if the Seahawks were the road team. I could see him realizing that being a 12 was special and exciting and fun, and that being a 12 meant being connected to this bigger thing than himself. He didn't get his hat signed, but by the time we were walking to my car, he was asking when we could go to another game. I told him we could go to the games in Cleveland and/or Pittsburgh in 2019, and he was like "that would be awesome, but I want to go to a game in Seattle. That's gotta be CRAZY."

That was when I was convinced that I'd passed on the Twelving genes to my kid, who then told me he wants an "old school" 12 jersey for Christmas. The capper was when we were at dinner later that evening, and out of the blue he said "This was a really great day." Coming from a kid who likes to pretend that he's too cool for outward emotions, that qualified as effusiveness. And he was right. It WAS a really great day. It was a day that reminded me why this team is one of the most important things in my life, and one of the most central parts of my identity. It's still that central thread which runs down the center of the tapestry of my life, and at least for a while, I get to share that with my children. It might not last forever - and if it doesn't that's ok, I want them to freely choose what they are passionate about - But I'm sure savoring this time.

I hope y'all are, too. Because after an offseason of bleak attrition, and a shaky start to the regular season, there were a lot of folks out there predicting our team to tumble into the Top Pick Abyss. But like Stacker Pentacost, it sure looks like this franchise found some ways to cancel (or at least postpone) the apocalypse. Six weeks ago, this season had a whiff of 1992. Today? It smells more like 2012. Running the ball 40+ times a week. Pummeling the enemy, breaking their will. Russ being efficient as FUCK and accurate as an atomic clock, even when firing it deep. The defense might give up yards, but they've reacquired the invaluable knack to come up with dramatic stops and impeccably-timed takeaways. They also seem to be having fun - Which I know is way easier when you're winning - But these guys seem to have gelled as a group, and their forward momentum is building every week.

It really feels like it's not just a playoff spot that's in this team's future: It might be something more than that. Maybe not a championship, but something special. Even seasons without World Championships have had unforgettable moments: The Romo game, The Beastquake, The Freezer Bowl in Minneapolis, etc. When that special thing happens, whatever it may end up being, I'll experience it alongside my little 12, and the circle will be complete.

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August 25, 2018

Your 2018 Seattle Seahawks Jersey Buying Guide


This all has become terribly fraught, hasn't it?

I was really shaken earlier this week when I saw a post by a friend of mine - A trans woman, and another 12 - who is now actively rooting against the Seahawks because Pete Carroll invited noted transphobe and misogynist Jordan Peterson to come talk to the team (if you are new to all this, please check out Natalie Wynn's excellent video on Peterson and come back). My personal opinion? PC probably read Peterson's best-selling self-help book, ate that shit up, and invited him to come talk to the team based on that. I doubt he vetted Peterson fully, and I doubt that he's on board for Peterson's larger (and scarier) anti-woman and anti-trans crusades.

That said? I can't blame my friend for turning on the team, and I can intellectually recognize that I'm rationalizing things so I can continue enjoying this thing that I've been passionate about and connected to for the vast majority of my life. It sucks that PC invited that hateful man to address the team. It sucks that we continue to employ Frank Clark. It sucks that this brutal game debilitates many of those who play it for life. It sucks that the majority of owners are closer to Donald Trump politically than the vast majority of their players. It sucks that these owners won't employ Colin Kaepernick or Eric Reed, and that they won't take a stronger stand for the free speech rights of their employees. So if any one of those things is too much to stomach, or some combination of those things are sufficiently off-putting, I don't begrudge anyone for switching off.

Everything is awful, on fire, and shrieking terribly at full ear-piercing volume. But I'm still here. Whatever invisible line exists for me hasn't been crossed, and I still think my life is happier, better, and fuller with the Seahawks as a part of it. With all that said, let's talk about this upcoming season, and the all-important decision: What jersey should I buy?

This offseason has brought on the most roster and staff turnover the franchise has seen since Pete Carroll rolled into town eight years ago. If you bought a Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Jimmy Graham, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Jon Ryan, or Paul Richardson jersey last year, you probably feel pretty burned right about now. As I do every summer, I'll try to save y'all from such a lamentable fate this time around.

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, and will look sharp for years with proper care. In my experience, the screen-printed numbers on the "game" jerseys actually hold up better and longer than the stitched-on ones adorning the more expensive Nike jerseys. Please note - If you are lucky enough to fit into a "youth" size, those are significantly cheaper.

For the purposes of this guide, I'm setting aside throwbacks (though I'm hanging onto my gunmetal blue Matthew Hasselbeck jersey until the heat death of the universe), personalized jerseys, and #12 jerseys (I've changed my tune on the #12's over the years. I used to be dead-set against buying them, but given how precarious roster spots are under PCJS's rule, I can't blame a fan for playing it safe with such a substantial investment).

Personally, I have a weird thing about wearing an injured player's jersey. I'm not a superstitious type, but I feel out of sorts if I'm wearing a player's jersey while he's hurt. Thus, I tend to shy away from players who have a history of injury problems. I'm also hesitant to buy a jersey of a rookie or a new free agent acquisition. What if they suck? Then you're wearing a big shroud of suck, aren't you?

So what jerseys should you avoid? Which ones are risky buys? Which ones are awesome, at least somewhat unique, and not likely to burn you a year from now? Let's break it down.

Let's start with the solid no's.

DON'T BUY

Earl Thomas: This doesn't break my heart. It puts it right in the fuckin' blender, and mashes the puree button. ETIII is bound someday for the Ring of Honor, Canton, and his number hanging from the rafters of Seahawks Stadium. He's a generational talent, and you can make a case that no single player was more instrumental to the team's 2012-2016 run than Thomas. But he may have played his final down with the Hawks. Even if he caves and comes back to the team this season, it will likely be without a long-term extension, and for a final handful of games in Seattle before bolting for Dallas.

If you have a Thomas jersey, hold onto it for the long term. But if you are looking for a jersey to wear this season, #29 is an abysmal option.

Frank Clark: Yeah, still a hard pass here. I'm a hypocrite, but there are limits to that hypocrisy. Also, he's a free agent after this season.

Other Notable Players Who Are Free Agents (UFA) After the 2018 Season: K.J. Wright, Byron Maxwell, Dion Jordan, Tom Johnson, Sebastian Janikowski, Mike Davis, Brandon Marshall, Tyler Lockett.

Notable Restricted Free Agents After the 2018 Season: J.D. McKissic, Quinton Jefferson, George Fant.

RISKY BUYS

Rookies: I'm as excited as the next 12 about  Rasheem Green, Michael Dickson, Shaquem Griffin, Rashaad Penny, and the rest of our shiny new players - But buying a rookie's jersey is almost as risky as buying the jersey of someone about to hit free agency.

Notable New Free Agents: Ed Dickson, Barkevious Mingo, Jaron Brown, Dontae Johnson

RANKING THE BEST OPTIONS

6. Duane Brown
If you want to go outside the box and get an offensive lineman's jersey, Brown is a great choice. He's under contract through 2021, and has a proven track record as an elite left tackle. The main concerns with him are his age (33) and emerging injury issues.

5. Chris Carson
His promising rookie season was cut short by injury, but so far in this preseason he's run with authority and effectiveness. Carson should be Seattle's primary ball-carrier this season, but his health and ball security issues are lingering concerns.

4. Shaquill Griffin 
What a great time to hop onto the Quill Train. Going into his second season, he's already got a starting cornerback spot locked down. As a rookie, he vastly exceeded expectations and is on course to be the cornerstone of a revamped Seahawks secondary.

3. Doug Baldwin
The only reason Angry Doug isn't higher on this list is the injury he's currently dealing with. The guy is an absolute weapon, and once he's back on the field, he'll get an immense amount of attention as Russell Wilson's favorite target. He's also unlikely to embarass the franchise off the field, and he's under contract through 2020.

2. Bobby Wagner
Two-time All-Pro. Four-time Pro Bowler. Only 28 years old, and under contract until 2020. Handsome. Total Bad Ass. Can't go wrong with Bwagz.

1. Russell Wilson
I've said that RW3 has been an uninspired choice in the past, but his level of play has been so consistently high, and he's become such an indispensable asset, that I believe he's the best possible choice (unless you already have a #3 jersey, of course). We're lucky to have a true franchise quarterback hitting the prime years of his career. We're even luckier that he, by all accounts, appears to also be a decent human being. It's a great moment to buy a jersey you'll likely get to wear proudly for the next 5-10 years.

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July 1, 2018

Scrambling


I was at an event for work the other night, and it turned out that one of my colleagues brought her husband, and he was a fellow 12. We spent a good half-hour talking about the Hawks, and it was great - But I noticed something else: I didn't feel like I could say that I was a Seahawks blogger anymore. That made me feel sad and incomplete, but it also motivated me to sit down and write again. I'm ridiculously busy these days, but who isn't? I need to remember that writing about the Seahawks is essentially self-care for me. It makes me feel better to blog about the team, and to know that there is a group of 12s out there who want to engage with what I write. So here I am, back at a keyboard, trying to get into the habit of blogging about our favorite team again.

It's been a tumultuous, painful offseason, but I want to run it back to the end of the 2017 season before getting to that.

I was at that waking nightmare against the Rams in December, and it was the worst I've ever felt after attending a Seahawks game. I say that as someone who went to Steve Largent's final game in 1989 and cried like I did when E.T. was all ashy and dying, harassed by raccoons. It was a sobering beatdown, but we still had a chance to make the playoffs at that point. I went home to the Tri-Cities, looking forward to watching the Cowboys game with my family on Christmas Eve.

The game was a big highlight of my trip home, and it felt great to watch a Seahawks win with my family like I had done for the past three decades. There was an odd undercurrent to everything, though. A number of more distant family members and acquaintances of my parents refused to come over watch the Seahawks in support of Donald Trump's brazen attacks on the free speech rights of NFL players. I was stunned, flabbergasted at the ease with which some people could abandon the team. If I was going to stop watching the Seahawks because I didn't like the politics of the players or coaches, or I found their behavior abhorrent, there would have been dozens of opportunities for me to do so over the years. I mean, back in the 00s my favorite player was Matt Hasselbeck, who openly campaigned and fund-raised for George W. Bush. If my criteria for supporting the Seahawks was entirely dependent on my TOTAL ALIGNMENT WITH AND APPROVAL OF all the players on all the coaches, I should boycott the team because they employ Frank Clark. I should abandon the franchise because Pete Carroll consorted with noted radical misogynist and transphobe Jordan Peterson. I'm... not going to do any of that.

Maybe my Hillary-Clinton-voting ass is just accustomed to making compromises, because I know getting half a loaf is OK since hey, that way you can still make sandwiches? But I think it's deeper than that, because the social pressure to abandon the NFL and the Seahawks isn't just coming from the right.

I run in pretty deeply progressive/queer/feminist circles, and as you can imagine, there's not a ton of people in my networks that watch the NFL, or even understand how I can watch it. I've heard the critiques, and if Colin Kaepernick getting blackballed, or the concussion crisis, or the league's tepid response to domestic violence has killed your desire to watch the game, I respect that.

(Sidebar: I do find it laughable when people who NEVER watched the NFL make a BIIIIG performative show of "boycotting" the NFL. Bruh, if you use a product or service and then STOP using it to make a political point, that's a boycott. It would be bizarre if I announced that I was boycotting NASCAR, since I've never watched it anyway. You can just not like or not watch something without theatrically announcing it to the world, you know?)

It IS alienating, though. For most of my life watching the Seahawks has been an oasis where I could connect with my family, friends, and roots in Washington State, where I could let loose and just express the full range and intensity of my emotions, and where I could, in the most positive sense of concept, feel something close to normal. It doesn't feel quite that way anymore. Now it's contentious and contested, rather than being something a broad swath of American society can enjoy together.

That said, this is still so important to me. In May I came home for alumni weekend at Western, and to see friends and family in Seattle. It was a transcendent experience that was so energizing that it made me think about moving to Bellingham in a more serious manner than I have for at least 15 years. Even though it is the offseason, the visit also reminded me how important, how crucial, being a 12 is to my identity. The Seahawks have been one of the only constants in my life over the decades, and one of the things that make me feel like my heart is still wirelessly connected to the state I grew up in. I need this team, and I need to feel connected to my fellow 12s. I felt that when I was blogging regularly, and that's a big reason I'm going to try to write here more regularly from now on.

Obviously, there is plenty to write about concerning the team right now. My annual jersey-buying guide will be coming in July, and I'll also do a (grossly belated) recap of the 2017 season soon. On some level, this is therapeutic for me - So I'll try to talk to y'all more often this season.

Anyway, Go Hawks!