Thursday, January 3, 2008

Endgame: Seattle Seahawks

"How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?" —Eisenhower

The NFL Playoffs are at hand. As such, Alex and Zac will be revisiting all twelve playoff teams, the characters that have made it to the final chapter in this season's story, and digging deeper to find out just who they've become having arrived at this point. Today's subject: The Seattle Seahawks

If the Seahawks were a Song:

"Superstar" by Lupe Fiasco. How do you know when you've made it? When your QB is hawking "Soups So Big, They Eat Like a Meal™?" When you're so recognizable you get automatic table service everywhere you go? What if your superstardom is confined to your home town? I always feel that way when I watch the Seahawks/listen to Lupe. The fans in Seattle are loud and passionate. Every song's a favorite song, if you will. But if you don't live in the Seattle/Portland area, do you care about the Seahawks? If Matt Hasselbeck weren't on TV twenty times a day (kudos to your agent, Matt), and a hero to bald men everywhere, would you recognize him based on his accomplishments alone?

If the Seahawks were a Political Figure:
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Bald like Matt Hasselbeck, but with a less good agent

Difficult times call for orthodox measures. Eisenhower oversaw one of the most complex periods of American history, the 1950's. He weathered it all with an earnestness and "I'm totally above the fray" aloofness that was either tactical (you try to balance the Cold War, integration, suburbanization, nuclear proliferation, McCarthyism, militarism, the rise of the military-industrial complex, without having someone tell you how much you suck at your job/are playing to one or the other set of special interests), or due to being that kind of guy.

The Seahawks are just that kind of team. You can't really fault them for much, but sometimes it feels like you can't really congratulate them for much either. Once one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, the Seahawks have had to radically reformulate their approach after making the mistake of signing a RB over 30 to a long-term contract (with guarantees, no less). I'm not sold on his baldness, cute daughters and all, as a top NFL quarterback. Their defense remains solid, but not spectacular. Lofa Tatupu has emerged as one of the best and brightest young MLBs in the NFL, but he leads a crew that, while good at forcing turnovers, also allowed the Panthers to make them look like a team that couldn't beat the Panthers. Like Eisenhower as President, Seattle's claim to greatness is based more on what they did in the past than what they're doing right this minute. It doesn't mean the present is bad, or that they're screwing up, but you'd think people would be more impressed that the Seahawks are still in it.

If the Seahawks were a Vacation Destination: Vancouver, BC
Vancouver is a filmaker's dream come true: it can stand in for just about anywhere. The Seahawk's are similarly versatile: their architectural landscape, as it were, is so indistinct it's easy to forget that they're the third seed in the playoffs. Like the Vancouver backdrop in the opening and closing sequences of The Neverending Story, the Seahawks fade into the background of the greater NFL narrative landscape. Even the threat of Mike Holgrem leaving is just another little wrinkle that might keep me from watching all those episodes of Janice Dickinson's reality show on Oxygen my baby sister tivoed.

If the Seahawks were a Starbucks Beverage: A Skinny Sugar-Free Gingerbread Latte with double whip

In this series of labored metaphors, homage needs to be paid to Seattle's main contribution to American culture: the overpriced espresso drink, particularly the wussy flavored espresso drink without booze in it (something that has always confused the bejesus out of me. If you don't like coffee, why pay four dollars for it?). Like Shaun Alexander's running game, Starbucks' Gingerbread latte is available for a limited time only. In Alexander's case, he's good for 10 carries, breaks one or two runs a game that remind you why he was on the cover of Madden, but mostly makes you think of that really awkward commercial with Joey Fatone, the one where S. Alexander smiles a lot, but doesn't really doesn't really do anything because come game day, he's on the sideline, smiling a lot and not really doing anything.

The non-sugar, skim, double whip option refers to the general state of the Seahawks offense without a running game. The 'Hawks have stripped the playbook, implementing a pass first/pass only offense. Those 5-7 yards Alexander used to get on a good day are now passes to Bobby Engram and the fearsome combo of Deion Branch and Nate Burleson, who together add up to one Bobby Engram. The Seahawks have been successful with this, but that doesn't mean its anything more than a novelty item. Tasty though the Seahawks have appeared in spots this season, it's hard to say if any of this amounts to anything more than empty calories.

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