February 5, 2015

Ranking The Squads: #2 (2014)

2. 2014
Record: 12-4
Offensive Rank: 10th out of 32 teams
Defensive Rank: 1st out of 32
Turnover Ratio Rank: 4th out of 32
Team MVP: Marshawn Lynch
High Point: Seahawks 28, Packers 22 (OT)
Low Point: Rams 28, Seahawks 26

So another season is in the books. I'm sitting here listening to Death Cab for Cutie and feeling like I'm resting where disappointment and regret collide. However, I've taken two big lessons away from the process of transitioning from a Miserable Depressed Hobo to a Relatively Content Woman: Regret is Corrosive and Concentrate on How Far You've Come, NOT How Far You Have Left to Go.

It's SO easy focus on regret if you are trans. For me, I could wallow in regret about waiting until I was in my late 30s to transition, or about how I hurt people I cared about while I was still figuring myself out, or about fifty other supremely obvious things. I could lose myself in wondering about how different my life would be if I had transitioned 20 years ago. Sure would have been great to have been a woman back in your early 20s... Right, Ramona?

What would that do for me, though? How would it help? It wouldn't make my life any better or easier, or make my future any brighter. It would just be an anchor. Dead weight. Beyond that, everything that happened made me the person I am today. I like myself. The path I took led me to having the two best children ever and meeting the love of my life. I wouldn't change a god damn thing. I don't need Regret burning an ulcer into my soul.

The other counterproductive thought process I've overcome is fixation on the things I still want to change about myself. Things from wishing I had the money to get the last remaining bits of beard shadow permanently zapped off my face, to wanting to lose 20 more pounds, to not being entirely satisfied with my hair or my voice, and on and on and on. What I SHOULD focus on is how far I've come over the last five years. Back then, I had absolutely no hope for the future. I was sleeping on a basement couch five feet from a litter box while being squeezed to death by the twin pythons of depression and anxiety. Today, I've never been happier. My life is imperfect, but it's also bursting with joy and wonder.

Since Sunday, I've been fairly zombified outside of random crying jags. I know to many Twelves XLIX is the most devastating defeat in franchise history. I'd still rank it behind XL, because today I'm sad but not left tortured by an overwhelming feeling of injustice... Plus, we put a Lombardi in our trophy case just one year ago.

On Sunday night and into Monday, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone enraged that Carroll didn't just give it to Shawn at the 1-yard-line. I'm glad I waited to write about the game until now, though. For one thing, I didn't fall into the trap of espousing dipshit conspiracy theories about the play call (Sidebar: If there was a conspiracy to get Wilson the MVP instead of Lynch, why was Shawn's number called on first down?). Beyond that, upon reflection, calling a pass on 2nd down in that situation made a LOT of sense.

It's natural to become obsessed with that fateful play. We were one yard away from winning back-to-back Super Bowls. We were one yard away from football immortality. What if Bevell had called a fade to Matthews to the back corner? What if Russell had pulled it down and just walked into the end zone? What if Lockette had fought a little harder for the ball? What if it was an ever-so-slightly more accurate pass? It's so easy to tumble into that bottomless rabbit hole. But what if we DON'T focus on that? What if we don't become consumed by regret? We might realize that...

-Our team was a yard away from winning the Super Bowl despite facing the 2nd best quarterback of all time with a severely hobbled defense. Beyond the tide-turning injuries to Jeremy Lane and Cliff Avril, our three best defensive players probably shouldn't have even been on the field. Earl Thomas III? Torn labrum. Richard Sherman? An elbow so jacked up that he needs Tommy John surgery. Kam Chancellor? He played with a TORN MCL. AND HE MADE 10 TACKLES. They played with almost unfathomable desire and courage. They crave that mineral (so to speak), and defeat is only going to make that craving more intense.

-We might have found a legit deep threat in Chris Matthews, who had a NFCCG/Super Bowl performance that oddly mirrored Malcolm Smith's a year earlier.

-Until the final play, Russell Wilson played magnificently. There are probably a good 27 or 28 teams that would commit unspeakable atrocities to have what we are on the verge of possessing: A franchise quarterback who will have us contending for Super Bowls well into Hillary Clinton's second term.

-We have a team composed of men who are supremely confident and unafraid to speak their minds. Defeat won't change that, nor does it make those qualities any less admirable.

So the boulder rolled all the way back to the bottom of the mountain on Sunday. That sucks, but do you know who else has experienced that? Don Shula, Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells, John Elway, Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre, Ben Rothlisberger, Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick. All of those coaches and quarterbacks have lost one or more Super Bowls, and NONE of their legacies are defined by those defeats. The same will be true of Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, who have combined in three seasons to go 43-14(!) together, including the postseason.

Let's look at how far the Seahawks have come in the 5 years since Carroll took over. In the 34 seasons before he arrived? 7 playoff wins, 10 playoff appearances, 6 division titles, 1 conference championship. In the last 5 years? 7 playoff wins, 4 playoff appearances, 3 division titles, 2 conference championships, and one Super Bowl win. Our franchise has grown from a South Alaskan footnote to a perennial NFL powerhouse. One play, no matter how traumatic, cannot change that reality. Carroll and Schneider have built an infernal machine: Youthful, Talented, Tough, and Brazenly Confident. This loss won't haunt them. It will FUEL them. Their terrorizing of the National Football League is far from complete.

The sadness I'm feeling isn't just from the defeat in XLIX, but also from the sudden absence of this wonderful team in my life. Despite the way things ended, the 2014 Seahawks will always hold a special place in my heart (akin to the 1986 and 2012 teams). I've never seen a team fight through so much adversity to accomplish so much... and they just didn't win, they won with style and verve and brutality. What will I remember forever about this season?

-BEAST MODE. Marshawn Lynch defines these Seahawks every bit as much as Pete Carroll or Russell Wilson or the Legion of Boom. He was a EASY choice for team MVP. 2014 was absolutely littered with additions to Money Lynch's legend. The winning OT score vs Denver. His amazing three-yard TD v Oakland. BeastQuake II (Thanks for asking). A dominant performance and the go-ahead TD in the NFC Championship Game. "I'm just here so I won't get fined." His nearly superhuman level of effort, his spectacular success (particularly in the postseason), and his iconoclastic style have made him perhaps the most beloved Seahawks player of all time. It's hard to imagine a trip to Santa Clara for Super Bowl L without our favorite Skittles pitchman in the backfield.

-THE INDOMITABLE HAWKS. Stagger to a 3-3 start, while tossing your high-priced/high-maintenance/high-risk/high-reward star wide receiver off the team bus? Death blow, right? Carroll was losing the locker room! Russell Wilson wasn't black enough! Grind out a few wins, but absorb an improbable string of serious injuries to key players, and lose at Kansas City? Toast at 6-4. Three games out of first, they'd be lucky to sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card. The post-Super Bowl hangover strikes again! (Spoiler alert: Nope)

-THE SPRINT. We might not ever know exactly what was said in the team meeting after the loss at Arrowhead, but it whatever it was, it certainly worked. Over the next six games, the Seahawks would stomp out Arizona and Santa Clara. They'd beat the Eagles in Philly and keep them out of the playoffs. They got Jim Harbaugh fired. They wrecked what was shaping up to be the best season in Cardinals' history. They MARAUDED their way into the playoffs, and it was fucking glorious.

-BAM BAM KAM FOREVER. Kam Chancellor delivered one of the most stunning individual defensive performances of all time in the divisional playoff against Charlotte. He dropped sentient boulder Mike Tolbert like an anvil off the Fremont Bridge, terrorized the Panthers' field goal kicking unit, and sealed a trip to the NFC Championship Game with a pick-6 for the ages.

-THE EMERALD CITY MIRACLE. From despair to resignation to hope to euphoria to anxiety to HOLY SHIT WE WON HOW THE FUCK DID WE WIN WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK to crying Russell Wilson to Michael Bennett on a bicycle. The most incredible thing I've ever seen at a sporting event... and I'm 39. I've been watching this shit for a spell.

I'm not just proud of this team. I'm proud of all of you. I'm proud to be a Twelve. I feel connected to all of you, and that gives me comfort. It makes me feel better to know that all of you are hurting like I am. I'm not alone, and neither are you. We have each other, and before too long we'll be throwing another parade for our team, triumphant and covered in glory. Our destiny isn't that of the Kurt Warner Rams or the Brett Favre Packers. It's not a lone Lombardi. It's immortality. It's to achieve things that have never been seen before in this game. It's to build an Emerald Empire whose impact echos through the decades. What happened Sunday simply delayed the inevitable. Brady and Belichick won four rings in 13 seasons. We can beat that. We WILL beat that.

I love my team, and I love y'all. GO HAWKS.

For your entertainment (and debate): Here's the updated ranking of every team in franchise history- Enjoy!

1. 2013
2. 2014
3. 2005
4. 1984
5. 1983
6. 2012
7. 2007
8. 1986
9. 2003
10. 2006
11. 1988
12. 1987
13. 2010
14. 1979
15. 1990
16. 1978
17. 2001
18. 1999
19. 2004
20. 1998
21. 1985
22. 1997
23. 1995
24. 2011
25. 2002
26. 1991
27. 1996
28. 1989
29. 1982
30. 1977
31. 1981
32. 1993
33. 1994
34. 2000
35. 2008
36. 1980
37. 1976
38. 1992
39. 2009


neilchr said...

Hell yeah! Thanks for always putting things in perspective Ramona :)
Go Hawks!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ramona, I'm a big fan of yours on Twitter. My husband and I have been following you for awhile. And judging from what I've read from you before, I knew you would say what I was feeling in such an eloquent way. And you did just that.

Full disclosure: my husband is a 12, also since 1983. I'm relatively new, since 2012: we both grew up in NY metro area, and I identified as a Jets fan for years. I went to a game at CenturyLink, and I was changed, forever. He would agree with you that the XL loss was much much worse (and I wasn't nearly as big of a fan of football then, but I do remember my Steeler fan friends boasting about it back then). He also told me that year seemed serendipitous. I'm in full agreement that this loss will become a footnote, and won't define them. Pete has been doing what a head coach should - taking the pressure off his team - and the thought process with these guys is that they'll persevere, and whatever does not kill them will make them stronger. Go Hawks!

it's all in D Hans said...

Another great post, Ramona. I truly look forward to reading each and every one.

And another great year for our team. I can't say enough about the poise, the grace in the face of loss (not defeat), and the indomitable spirit of the players and coaching staff of our Seattle Seahawks. They are what every other NFL team desperately wants to be - the epitome of competition and character.

On a side note: I heard someone saying that we gave up that Lombardi trophy because it had a 49 on it. LMFAO! Odio de Los 49ers!!! How great will it be to walk into Santa Clara on February 7th, 2016 and take home Lombardi #50? Turning Levi's Stadium into a cathedral of Twelves? You know that we can earn a repeat appearance in the biggest show. I know that we can. And best of all - our team KNOWS and BELIEVES it. Go Hawks!!!

Jeremy Touzel Hansuvadha said...

New to the blog. I heard you on the Seahawkers pod. I love the trans analogy. Great perspective.