"I've got some thoughts I cling to/What makes you bitter makes you old..." -Chastity Belt, 5am
While I was preparing to write this post, I decided to look up how many players in the NFL are older than I am. There were just two: Adam Vinatieri and Phil Dawson. I had two reactions to this. First, I should have trained my beefy-ass legs to kick footballs straight and far a long time ago. I actually remember spending exactly one afternoon when I was like 14 trying to train myself to be a kicker. I swung and missed more than once. I was by myself. The ball was on a tee. One time I slipped and fell right on my ass. That brought my placekicking career to a merciful end.
My other reaction? Relief. Relief that I hadn't yet passed into the realm of being (theoretically) too old to play in the NFL. Sure, I'm also a woman, and I have no athletic talent whatsoever, and I'm pretty sure if I ever played an NFL snap I'd not only die - I'd explode like one of the Garblovians from Rick and Morty on first contact from an opposing player. But, hey! I could still play in the NFL!
Being a fan is such a bizarre experience across one's life cycle. First, all the players are these impossibly talented demi-god figures that you look up to as a kid. Then you get older and the players are your contemporaries, and you realize they just happen to have the athletic skill and elite work ethic that one needs to get paid enormous amounts of money to play a breathtakingly dangerous sport. Finally, the players are a generation (or generations) behind you. The gulf between you and them widens, both athletically and culturally - And you're faced with a choice, consciously or not, about how you'll deal with this reality. You can focus on how things aren't like the "Good Old Days," and become embittered and detached from this thing that you've loved. Alternatively, you can strain to create continuity between today and yesterday, even when it might not actually be there (I do this A LOT). Somewhere in the middle is feeling simple appreciation for the high points, because they are fleeting and precious.
As you get older, you also realize that this game is HARD. It's hard and it's brutal and it's cruel. When you're a kid, the losses hurt, but they don't seem permanent. As you become more aware of your own mortality, and as the seasons feel like they are flying by at an ever-quicker pace, you become cognizant of how fragile it all is. The clock ticks louder and louder, and the losses land harder and harder.
That brings us around to the 2017 Seahawks, whose fate has become all-too-tied to my own, at least in my own brainpan (as Sterling Archer once said: Hooray for metaphors!). I'm 42 now, and reality is rudely starting to assert itself by jabbing me with the pointy stick of "YOU ARE GETTING OLDER." Unfortunately, aging gracefully isn't really part of my skill set (doing ANYTHING gracefully isn't in my proverbial toolbox), so I'm marinating in something close to panic. Bonus factor? I transitioned less than five years ago, so I'm also trying to make up for wasting what.. like 20 years or so... pretending to be a dude.
As usual, my most highly attuned talent is taking things people are saying about the Seahawks personally. When the Hawks fell to 6-4 and it became clear that Kam and Sherm were out for the season, the narrative became all about windows slamming shut and obits for the Legion of Boom and the PCJS Hawks. They had peaked. The best days were in the past. The decline and the fall? Eminent. The problem with making a sports team central to your identity is that shit which seems to apply to your own life starts to resonate a little too much.
But.. maybe not yet? Maybe this team is actually sturdier than many assume? In the three games without Kam and Sherm, the defense hasn't imploded. In fact, they're only allowing 19 points per game, and they just held the NFL's best offense to ten little points. The younger guys and the newer guys and the older vets called back into service seem to be coalescing into something like the L.O.B. lite - Behind obvious Defensive Player of the Year Bobby Wagner and Earl "Gold Jacket on Layaway" Thomas, the defense might just be able to throw up enough obstacles for the enemy to give the NFL MVP the chance to hoist another Lombardi Trophy.
That's right. The guy that the bobbleheads used to say was a game manager. The guy who was only good because he was supported by a dominant ground attack and a suffocating defense. The guy who was too short, too corny, too controlled, too corporate. The guy certain bloggers thought should sit behind Matt Flynn. He's leveled up. He's Neo. He's John Wick. He's an unholy CRISPR concoction of Mike Vick and Drew Brees. Russell Carrington Wilson is The Indispensable Man. The Infernal Machine. The Seattle Sorcerer. The Emerald Enchanter. The God Damn One-Man Slaughterhouse. The Most Valuable Player.
On the biggest regular-season stage, Wilson utterly outclassed presumptive MVP Carson Wentz. Three more touchdowns (meaning that he's accounted for more touchdowns than any other player in the sport this season) and a couple more moments of signature WolfBadger magic: The perfect dime to Angry Doug under intense pressure from an all-out Eagles blitz to set up Seattle's second touchdown, and his bugfuck insane pitch to Mike Davis in the MIDDLE OF THE DAMN FIELD to keep the Hawks' game-clinching drive alive. Yes, we know it wasn't a lateral. We don't care. No one gave a shit about Paul Richardson almost getting his damn skull ripped off by the face mask, so let's call it even.
As usual, it looks like the Seahawks are peaking at the right time. December means three things: A new Star Wars movie, Christmas, and the Seahawks unleashing hell upon the rest of the National Football League. If the Seahawks can keep this going, we will know that they are battle-tested for the postseason. Trips to Jacksonville and Dallas. The rematch with Los Angeles. Even if they have to go on the road in the playoffs, this is a team that is better equipped than ever to win away from Seahawks Stadium.
In two weeks, I'll be there with my partner and my brother screaming my blue head off for three hours as we battle the Rams. Just like I have for over thirty years, just like I will as long I have any decibels left to push out of my screamhole. These Seahawks have a lot of wondrous things left to do this season and beyond. Savor every damn second of this, 12 - And know that while the clock might be ticking, time hasn't run out on us just yet.
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