Some people have already dubbed this "The Villains against The Virtuous". Is that funny to you?
- a pool reporter
[laughs] That's hilarious. That's hilarious. Because any time you label Russell Wilson a villain, it's gotta be [laughs] it's gotta be a joke, right?
- Richard Sherman, in an exchange at 7:48 of this video
If you guys are portrayed as the villains, is that something you can feed off of?
- another pool reporter
No, I don't think we would accept that. We have too many great players who don't deserve that label and don't deserve to be looked at in that light, and the Russell Wilsons and the Earl Thomases and Kam Chancellors have done nothing to deserve -- well, I can't say Kam, y'know, he's a bad boy - but they've done nothing to deserve that label.
- Sherman, same video, exchange at 17:15
In my last post, I covered why I've been calling the Seahawks 'The Demonstrably Morally Superior NFL Team' for a while. I also think that they are incredibly fun to root for, and it's a shame that most unaffiliated fans are going to be rooting - hard - for ol' Megamind-looking Peyton Manning and crew. I understand why: Manning is the aw-shucks face of the league, and Richard Sherman just gave a twenty-minute press conference that people will listen to, but not nearly as many people as will root against him because he lit the world on fire in less than 16 seconds.
The now-vanquished San Francisco 49ers trotted Ric Flair out as their mascot, which was perfect in many ways; like Flair, the Niners look to past glory for validation and are kinda old and full of jet-flyin' machos. It was also a perfect prelude to The Promo Heard 'Round The World and lots of folks using wrestling terminology to explain very well that Sherman was playing heel. I'm biased, but I find the Seahawks, up to and including Sherm, to be good guys. I don't mean that in the 'good person' sense, though many Seahawks qualify; I mean it in the wrestling sense. This is a team full of players you can scream for.
Here, in rough order of my confidence in my ability to convince someone a player is likable, are endearing tidbits about every single Seahawk that played a snap in the NFC championship game. Plus Percy Harvin.
- Derrick Coleman, fullback (FB). Coleman is the first deaf person to play offense in the NFL, and you'll see the below spot air during the Super Bowl if Duracell is interested in making money, and you have my blessing and encouragement to shush your entire watch party to let the humanism wash over you. Coleman's also an undrafted free agent (UDFA) and a very good interview. A nine-year-old from New Jersey who wears hearing aids wrote him a fan letter and he wrote back and okay, who's chopping onions in here?
- Zach Miller, tight end (TE). World's proudest dad and perfectly willing to be a gushing dork about his twins. Everything you would ever want a tight end to be; produces less in Seattle than he did in Oakland, blocks hard, smart, and safe without a word of complaint.
- Bobby Wagner, linebacker (LB). Ninja Turtles enthusiast. Sometimes interviewed with a turtle backpack that he's owned for 'probably seven years' hanging behind him. Raphael's his favorite. Drafted one round before prodigal hobbit quarterback Russell Wilson and is arguably more important.
- Red Bryant, defensive end (DE). Tied for longest-tenured Seahawk with the next guy on the list. Married into Seahawk legend Jacob Green's family and it's probably not awkward. Kick-blocking specialist and Athletic Huge Guy, just like his best friend:
- Brandon Mebane, defensive tackle (DT). Mebane re-signed with the Seahawks in 2011. That looks smarter now than it did then. His sack dance is the same body roll your great-uncle hits when S.O.S. Band's 'Take Your Time' comes on. Size acceptance advocate.
- Earl Thomas, free safety (FS). The player most opposing fans want on their team. A self-identified introvert slowly growing louder with the help of his friends in the secondary. Keeps a journal. Funny as hell. You saw his position was free safety, right?
- Kam Chancellor, strong safety (SS). A 'bad boy', like Sherman said, who might be the most intimidating player in the league. Loved by seemingly all of Virginia. Twitter bio reads "well-mannered, well-respected". When the Seahawks signed bearer-of-all-reputations Terrell Owens, he reacted rather politely. Note that the Seahawks' starting safeties are an Earl and a Chancellor, which is why I'd like to begin the petition to knight safety Chris Maragos now.
- Michael Robinson, FB. Former college quarterback and special teams captain who was released by the team this year, presumably with a wish for him to take his time and get healthy - he lost 30 pounds after a nightmare combo of dehydration/illness/medical reaction - and come back. He tried out for a couple other teams, considered retirement and came back. Cried upon clinching the Super Bowl berth. The last two seasons, he's produced The Real Rob Report, a web show primarily shot in the Seahawks locker room, ensuring love from Seattleites forever and probably a career in broadcasting after he retires. [The Real Rob Show might be the source of most of the links in this post.] Earned two bachelor of arts degrees at Penn State, one in journalism. While he was gone from the team, he was in steady communication with:
- Marshawn Lynch, running back (RB). Second most-coveted player, Oakland as all get out, never stops fighting for yardage. Watch him and Robinson chat; you can tell they're pals. Shrewd businessman. You may have heard about his tradition of eating Skittles to settle his stomach, or you may have wondered why Seattle fans fling candy at him after he scores. Also, he scores like he's playing Madden. If no one's near him, he'll walk in. If he scores with a burst of speed, he might finger roll the ball into the end zone. If he's being chased, he'll flip in. When he's not near the end zone, he's hitting people. Hard. Allegedly rare and pithy interview, except if you're NFL Japan. If you're willing to go grill shopping with him, he'll buy you a gold tooth.
- Russell Okung, offensive tackle (OT). Twitter handle is @BDR76, which, if asked, he will claim stands for 'Big Daddy Russell', but the 'D' does not actually stand for 'Daddy'. Once asked for advice on where to get cowboy boots in Seattle for a Kenny Chesney show. Texan.
- Doug Baldwin, wide receiver (WR). Also known as 'Angry Doug Baldwin', who takes every slight, legitimate or perceived, about Seattle's WR corps and uses it as fuel. Embraces the nickname. Not coincidentally: Richard Sherman's teammate at Stanford, also passed over by his Stanford coach in the 2011 draft. Another UDFA. Also known as Handsome Angry Doug Baldwin by those of us prone to notice cuties. Also runs a web series called 'Fresh Files' and answers fan questions on Spreecast. Those are the best chances to see his brow unfurrowed. Pinoy heart; grew up with his Filipino grandmother in Pensacola, FL.
- Steven Hauschka, kicker. Known in my household as 'Cool Senior Steven Hauschka', Steve is about as suave as a kicker could possibly be: a 6'4" dreamboat who played Division III soccer at Middlebury, switched to kicking, sent letters to every school he thought had a shaky kicking situation, and ended up kicking for one year at North Carolina State. Nicknamed 'Hausch Money' by Pete Carroll. While at N.C. State, he lived on a first-year football dorm floor, down the hall from the next two guys on the list [two of the next three if you're reading this on a phone], then-freshmen J.R. Sweezy and Russell Wilson. He bought them beer, right? That's gotta be canon.
- J.R. Sweezy, offensive guard (G). Now that's a name. Sweezy played defensive tackle in college, was the 225th pick in the 2012 draft, and switched sides of the ball early in training camp. [The Seahawks do stuff like that.] He still hits people like he's playing defense -- you'll see him peeling guys off Lynch so he can keep his legs churning -- and he's started 20 games in his first two years.
- Richard Sherman, cornerback (CB). You know who Richard Sherman is. He's the most polarizing American team sports athlete who's still employed. I still think I could convince many folks dead-set against him to like him. Kyle Wagner wrote an article calling him 'your new favorite player'. I wrote an article a year ago explaining my love of trash-talkers. Richard's the best one going. He's got a great charity, a great column, a great laugh, a hilariously goofy celebration dance:
Oh, and he did a great ad you'll see during the Super Bowl:
Also: not a thug and the best cornerback alive.
- Russell Wilson, quarterback (QB). You probably know about Russell Wilson, too. A two-sport, two-college star. An undersized wunderkind (underkind?) who teleports between the film room and Children's Hospital. Here's a great Gwen Knapp article about him and his father. The most endearing thing that no one mentions about Russell Wilson is that if it weren't for hard luck, he wouldn't have any luck at all. Between his senior year at Wisconsin and his rookie year, Russell Wilson's teams lost games when:
- Michigan State's Keith Nicol caught a Hail Mary outside the end zone and fought in
- Braxton Miller of Ohio State threw a 40-yard gamewinning TD with 20 seconds left - juuuust before he crossed the line of scrimmage
- The refs ran an extra second off the clock as Wilson and the Badgers looked to tie up the Rose Bowl against Oregon [Wilson says the refs assured him he had enough time to stop the clock]
- The Detroit Lions [!] pull off a game-winning drive at the end of the 4th
- Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins score 17 points in the last eight minutes of the game and win despite giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown in the middle of all that
- The Seahawks give up a field goal to lose to the Atlanta Falcons, squandering what would have been the biggest 4th-quarter comeback in NFL history and ruining the following weeks for the cast of Deadliest Catch
Do not root for Russell Wilson simply because he is tiny, clean, and reverent. Root for him because he has suffered enough.
- Michael Bennett, DE. Huge offseason addition who gives even less of a damn about interview protocol than Richard Sherman. Was carted off the field in Week 4 to the chagrin of his family; returned in Week 5. Football players are tough. Yet another UDFA. Claims he pretended to be Russell Wilson to get a restaurant reservation for him and his family [click through to hear his Wilson imitation, it's hysterical]. His hypnotic sack dance is inspired by wrestling heel Rick Rude.
- Clinton McDonald, DT. From one wrestling impersonator to another. McD the 1st does a mean Macho Man Randy Savage impression. McDonald was cut for the first time in August, and returned to the Seahawks with a vengeance and ten pounds lighter. He didn't have a sack in his three-year NFL career before 2013. This year he's got five and a half.
- Tony McDaniel, DT. McD the 2nd. Six foot seven. Kicked the Seahawks' tail in that heartbreaker against Miami last year, so they signed him. One of the quietest players on the team - yes, there are a few - but celebrates sacks by drawing himself up to his full height and pointing at his bicep. It's cool.
- Max Unger, center. Pro Bowler. Hawaiian. Beardo. Proud University of Oregon alum. Alas, nobody's perfect. Didn't play football until ninth grade because he was too big - he weighed 200 pounds in sixth grade! Went to a 300-person high school on The Big Island. Now he's in the Super Bowl. Fat kid rules the world.
- Bruce Irvin, LB. Roundly dismissed as a reach in the first round of the 2012 draft. Most draft critics also thought Russell Wilson was a bad call. We should really wait three years and then review drafts. Irvin is an athletic savant who played defensive end last year and has learned linebacker this year. Six years ago, he decided to leave the drug house he was staying in for a prep academy a day before the house was raided by police. Then the academy closed. With the help of a mentor, he got his G.E.D., went to community college, and transferred to West Virginia, beginning a love affair so intense and mutual that he's got the school logo tattooed on him and WVU's preferred chant - a howl of 'Brrrruuuuuuuuuce!' followed him to Seattle. Put the first big hit on post-neck-surgery Peyton Manning in a preseason game. Irvin: "He moaned a little bit."
- Tarvaris Jackson, QB. Tough as nails. Started for the Seahawks the year before Wilson arrived and played most of that year with a partially torn pectoral muscle. That's kind of important for throwing. By Carroll's account, he didn't throw during the week at all; just on Sundays. I want him to get a ring.
- Heath Farwell, LB. Special teams captain. Very lacrosse name. Like Jackson, Coleman, WR Percy Harvin, injured WR Sidney Rice, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Farwell's a former Minnesota Viking. Seattle is Minnesota West. But good. Minnesota West plus.
- Ricardo Lockette, WR. UDFA from a small school [Fort Valley State] with a nickname to match: Lockette the Rocket. He doesn't get much shine in the offense but he's a gunner on special teams. They're the guys who make returning punts and kicks for a living such a terrible idea. In Week 17 against the Rams, many viewers were convinced he beheaded a man. [Be warned: If you turn the sound on it's Miley Cyrus.]
- Cliff Avril, DE. Polite in the face of Twitter taunts. Bowler. Skilled speed rusher, Bennett's counterpart in passing situations.
- Alvin Bailey, OT. UDFA out of Arkansas. Rookie. Occasionally confused by me with Michael Bowie, who was inactive last game but started the first playoff game against the Saints. Bowie's also a rookie - he was a seventh-rounder - and he and Bailey have shown flashes of brilliance all year. One of them is probably going to have to mush somebody in the Super Bowl to break Lynch for the Seahawks to win.
- Malcolm Smith, LB. Tough-minded guy with an older brother, Steve Smith, who used to play in the NFL. Older bro's last game came against the Seahawks at the end of last year. [Michael Bennett's brother Martellus plays for the Chicago Bears.] Suffers from achalasia, a condition that means he has to eat his NFL linebacker-sized diet really. slowly. every day. Achalasia basically means you have a reluctant esophagus. He was first diagnosed after losing a bunch of weight because food wouldn't stay down when he played at the University of Southern California.
- Percy Harvin, WR. One of the most unique players in the league, coming back in a unique situation - he's played parts of 2 of the past 25 games his teams have played in. TWO! If he has a big effect on the Super Bowl - and he probably will - it'll be unprecedented. Has this weird place where his goatee doesn't connect. I can't think of a good explanation.
- Walter Thurmond, CB. Rail baron.
Or maybe a vampire. Ric Flair impersonator. Goes by 'Thurmond III' on his jersey. Earl Thomas goes by 'Thomas III', so if you're keeping track, the secondary contains to 'the Thirds', an Earl, a Chancellor, and a guy we should really nickname 'Lord Byron':
- Byron Maxwell, CB. Hot yoga aficionado. Subject of an entire Richard Sherman column. Quietest member of the secondary. Possibly shy. Goes by 'Max' or 'Maxy'. Yoga's helped him overcome a scrollful of injuries that threatened to derail his career.
- Jermaine Kearse, WR. Local boy made good. Grew up less than an hour south of Seattle, went to the University of Washington and endured an 0-12 season his freshman year. [So did all us U-Dub fans.] UDFA. Had Lasik eye surgery this offseason and should probably be advertising for it - he's had a bit of a breakout year.
- James Carpenter, G. Former first round pick. Good at run blocking, not so good at pass blocking, was inactive for the Seahawks' divisional round game against the Saints. Came back fired up, and smacked a lot of 49ers in the NFC championship game. Much will be made of the contrast of styles in the Super Bowl: the Broncos throw the ball constantly, it seems, while the Seahawks under Carroll run the ball more than any team in the league. Teams generally do not rotate offensive linemen in the playoffs. This team does.
- Jon Ryan, punter. "Officially the biggest punter in the National Football League," per the Real Rob Report. Canadian. Ginger. Used to wear this mullet:
Switched his style up this year to boot the ball for hang time rather than distance and became really good at setting people up to return for zero yards or face destruction at the hands and shoulder pads of:
- Paul McQuistan, OT. Full of freckles. Looks almost exactly like his brother, ex-NFL'er Pat. Not particularly skilled and almost certainly won't be on this team next year, so root for his best chance at football immortality.
- Mike Morgan, LB. College teammate of Malcolm Smith and eats his really slow lunch with him, which is sweet. Beyoncé devotee. On most other teams, he'd be a situational pass-rusher. The Seahawks have so many of those he's mostly a special teams guy.
- DeShawn Shead, FS. Portland State grad, UDFA, yet another guy in the secondary who'd start for other teams in the league. He'd prefer to play corner but usually makes appearances as a safety. Much is made of the size of the Seahawks' secondary, but there's another trait Carroll looks for: you have to be able to catch. Shead's big but not tall; he compensates with really good ball skills.
- Kellen Davis, TE. Six foot seven with a voice to match. If he's out there on offense, the Seahawks are close to the goal line. He caught three passes this season, one for a touchdown, and had another bounce off his helmet for a Derrick Coleman TD.
- Breno Giacomini, OT. A goon's goon. If he is referred to on the Super Bowl broadcast, it will probably be as a 'mauler'. I once read a 49ers fan refer to him as a 'mobster', which I think may have been the rare disguised anti-Italian smear. [Giacomini's Brazilian.] Breno keeps going through the whistle and at some point stopped getting flags and started drawing them, perhaps due to some instruction from accomplished Seattle O-line coach Tom Cable:
I was surprised.
- Golden Tate, WR. Golden Tate the Third is the hardest sell on the team, a habitual taunter and Notre Dame grad. Here's the pitch for him: he's immune to outside criticism in a way that most of us wish we were, he sings Taylor Swift, he blocks people hard, and he really likes donuts [so much so that it led to a warning from police].
Whoa, you read this far? Thanks. Hope you're convinced and buying a Kam Chancellor jersey in another tab.
This took an embarrassingly small amount of research. Most stuff came from my brain, my Twissues archive, or my browser history. I'm kinda into this team.
I realized while writing this that there was a whole other piece lurking within it, about how I love bandwagon fans and hate the dick-measuring of 'who's a real fan' that ends up leaving no one happy and sometimes people shot in the leg. If you know someone who doesn't know anything about the Seahawks but might want to get caught up, I think this piece will serve as a good primer, and I'm about to send it to a bunch of new-ish fans.
Bandwagon or 'fair-weather' or 'new' fans are what allow for a city to be enthralled by and in thrall to a sports team, which is about the best condition a city could ever be in. Harry Cheadle does a good job of writing that sensation up here. "It was like the Seahawks had just liberated the town from the Nazis," he writes of a trip back to his hometown.
C'mon. How could these guys be villains?