Sunday, November 23, 2014

Legion of Womb Week 9

One of the best things I love about football is how unpredictable it is. During the last week of August when The Legion of Womb first got together, we helped draft a team whose owner was unable to attend the draft party. We felt quite devious so we drafted a kicker for her in the first round. If you knew Tracy, you would understand how perfect this was. She is one that loves a great prank, and usually she is on the giving end.

After we congratulated ourselves for the amusing thing we did, we got serious about drafting a decent team for her. But, once the season began, the joke was on us. After her first win she posted: “I will make a winning speech.......After all the time and effort I put into picking my team....I’d like to thank all the little people who made it all possible........and for picking me a kicker first :)” From that moment on, Tracy never looked back. Going into the week she played me, she had only lost twice and tied once. She was in first place, and I was feeling pretty sheepish about how I initially handled her team.

That was until, a little bird – in the form of someone else’s husband – let us in on the fact that we weren’t’ really playing Tracy, we were, in fact, playing Eric. Tracy’s dirty little secret: Eric the Husband; the player without a womb. As I grappled with the betrayal that ripped through my heart, I confronted the wombless Eric. To which he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Yeah, I had to trade that kicker as soon as I could.” Wait…what?!? No guilt? No remorse? “I had to trade away a few players but I picked up Steven Haushka, Lamar Miller and Koby Fleener. You guys left a lot of good players on the board. It was crazy.” Of course there were good players left! This was a league for women who are just learning the sport of football. They aren’t going to know every single elite player in the NFL. It’s not meant to be a league where a husband can swoop in and glean the ripe fruit of the draft board. Does taking candy from babies mean anything to you? To which he replied, “I like candy.”

He qualified the statement by admitting that he doesn’t do all of the action with the team by himself, they both do it. “I will yell to Tracy. ‘Tracy! I’m trading Austin Miles for Koby Fleener!’ And from somewhere in the house she yells back, ‘OK!’ So we are doing it together.” Well, how can I argue with undertakings that help communication and teamwork in a marriage?

As the weekend progressed, I overcame wombless players, candy from babies, and marital communications and I beat the Mad Hatter. It was a moral and a personal victory and one that I had an uncharacteristically high amount of pride in doing.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Week 8 - Legion of Womb

I’ve been schooled in a very convincing way this week. This match-up between Nikki and me was going to prove to be interesting. Out of all the amazing ladies in our league, Nikki is the one that knows football better than I do. And the score of Week 8 proved it, there was a 26 point differential.

I met Nikki 8 years ago, when our boys became friends as 12 year old 5th graders, these boys are now 20 year old men in college. We both have dark curly hair, three kids and 20+ year marriages. We love Jesus, our husbands, our children, coffee and of course, football. We don’t see each other nearly as much as we would like, we both have very active households and work. Nikki is a master barista at Starbucks and, of all places, when we’re able to get together, that is where we spend hours solving our own problems as well as most of the worlds. There is hours of coffee, numerous potty breaks and plenty of talk about football, whether youth football, high school, college or our beloved Seahawks. We are both life time Seahawks fans and we can reminisce about the team during the ’90s when they were 2-14 as easily as we can talk about the current team.

We understand ourselves well enough that we can text one word and understand the message exactly. I look back over my texts with Nikki and I laugh; there is no pretext, no setting the scene just abrupt statements or questions. Four weeks ago I asked her “Who is Matt Asiata?!?!?” He seemed to come out of nowhere, this RB from Minnesota. But Nikki knew something was up and acquired him off of waivers the week before. He went on to score over 28 points for her. Her only response was, “I know right?” A few weeks later when the trade of Percy Harvin surprised everyone, I received a text that only said “What what what the heck? There had to be some drama going on.” There was no misunderstanding what she was texting about. After the Seahawks two losses in a row, her text read. “You in hiding?” and yes, I indeed was hiding, well pouting to be exact.

And although we can complete each other’s sentences when it comes to football, we are first and foremost wives and mothers. And as we got excited to play one another in week 8, the worst news this community could withstand happened. This region where we live, just recently getting off its knees from a mudslide that made national and global news, has once again found itself rocked. Another school shooting, not at our own local high school where our children go, but at the district just south of us. Everyone in our town knew someone who attends that school, whether a student or staff. Over the next few days we dealt with shock, new information from the incident, and deepening levels of grief. Everything was pushed to the side without thought, as we gathered our families, consoled our children, and struggled through our own fears. We kept our kids close, and that’s where they wanted to be.

Understandably, Nikki and my hearts weren’t completely into the match-up this week. And yet, what makes sports something I love is the fact that you can set your troubles aside for a while and enjoy a few hours of competition. The troubles won’t be forgotten or solved; I will still have the responsibility of working through them, but sports give us a way to temporarily put our burdens down. We enjoyed a Sunday of football, in a subdued way. NFL victories were a little hollow and NFL defeats weren’t nearly as devastating.

Nikki and I shared some banter and we made sure that we bet something so that we both would love, win or lose. I owe Nikki a very large coffee, a huge hug and hours of soul-healing fellowship.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week 7 Legion of Womb

Week 7 was a week where we found out how much thicker blood was than water. It was a family torn by the internal strife of mother against daughter, the beginnings of a blood feud. We knew this week would come upon us, we just didn’t realize the depth of distress that this competition would take us.

It was my week to face off against my daughter. For the last sixteen years, we have always worked together. And now this week we were placed at odds with one another. How would we do in a situation foreign to our relationship? Could we hold up under the pressure of the competition? Would our relationship ever look the same?

As last week ended, I found a few moments to set my line-up and check on hers. It was in that moment, I realized I had done my daughter a great dis-service. I have taught her to cook, and have taught her to take care of laundry, what are hand washables and what are regular load. I have helped her learn to take care of her hair and make-up, but somewhere I dropped the ball. I looked to help others at the expense of my own family, it was so hard to admit and face myself in the mirror. I forgot to tell her “O” means out and “IR” means injured reserve.

So I approached her last Friday night after a very long day at school, soccer practice and volunteering hours at a local elementary school for Honor Society. She was exhausted on the couch, but I knew I had to get this confession over quick, like ripping a band aid off a wound. “Kat,” I said, “You need to find some running backs off waivers…soon.”
You have two running backs in your line-up that are either out or on injured reserve.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you have two running backs that are out or on injured reserve.”
“Can you help me with that? I’m exhausted.”
She looked at me at that moment, and I was transported back to my little Kat at two years old. Her large brown eyes, her innocent look, and the way she would want to act “just like mommy”. And I said, “No.”
“Why not?”
“Because we are playing against one another and I plan to kick your…knee.”

After a few more minutes of pleading and begging, Kat went to the computer to check her team. I told her the strategy I use to find players off waivers, how to add and drop a player, and how to set the line—up the most strategic way possible. And then I turned to walk out of the room to let her to it on her own.

“Mom, I’m really exhausted. I have PSAT’s at 7:30 in the morning. Do I have to do this now?”
“Young lady! You will not leave this computer until you claim two running backs off waivers! Have I made myself clear? Don’t make me repeat myself!”

The world’s heaviest sigh and largest eye-roll arose from my daughter at that moment. As I stormed out of the room, I could hear her muttering about being the only kid to get in trouble for not playing FF right. I went about my business that Friday night as Kat chose to add Isaiah Crowell and Knile Davis and drop Kyle Rudolph and Montee Ball.

As Sunday came and went, I forgot to check my FF match-up with Kat. But as a Seahawk fan, I became very pre-occupied about a last minute trade with the Jets that left my FF team name irrelevant now (Lord have Percy). I also became aware of my sudden revelation that I hate special teams trick plays with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.

When Monday was upon us, I remembered to check our match-up. I had so much confidence in my expertise and her ignorance. I had concluded almost from the beginning how this week’s match-up would end. I wasn’t expecting what I saw…

Lord Have Percy 80.88 and The Kat Box 90.61

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 5 Legion of Womb

Week 5 was here and gone and many of us LOWers are now in a good routine. Our league is being led by a sixteen year old girl whose draft strategy included picking players with funny sounding names. So even though she doesn’t know who Demaryus Thomas is if he was standing in front of her with his jersey on, he gave her almost 40 points last week. Those 40 points were used to crush me to dust. So, while I pick the sand out of my teeth, my darling young opponent is completely distracted by homecoming week.
More interesting match-ups occurred like one between Tani and Lisa. They are long time best friends and teachers, dedicated wives, and soccer moms. So at our daughters’ high school soccer game earlier this week I decided to help get the competition started between Tani and Lisa by engaging in some smack talk:

Me: “Tani is gonna whoop all over you!”
Lisa: “What?”
Me: “Yeah, Tani is playing you this week in fantasy football.”
Lisa: “Oh, say…do you want a small or medium for the sweatshirt you ordered?”
Me: “Medium…Wow that is a cute bag where’d you get it?”
Lisa: “My friend was holding a party at her house. You want one? The ordering is still open.”
Me: “Yeah, I’d like one.”
Lisa: “I’m sorry I distracted you, what were you saying?”
Me: “What?”
Lisa; “You were talking?
Me: “I was?”

So it didn’t go as planned, but I got a great tote!

The best conversation by far was during Monday Night Football as a few of the LOWers got together to watch. I was with Shelli and Tracy, two very smart, creative and dear friends. They are both successful business owners and have differing degrees of football acumen. Shelli, who knows much more about basketball than football was feeding us blogging “gold”. MNF was very intense for the 12’s (as we are all 12’s, even though we were only 3). Pressure was adding up as the Seahawks kept tripping themselves up with penalties. As a Seahawks fan, my blood pressure was building. Towards the end of the game, Tracy came to my rescue by giving me crochet needles and yarn; she was in fear of a medical emergency. I found out that I create when I’m all wound up with anxiety, and although it was supposed to be a pot holder, it looked more like a thimble. Through the entire game, Shelli kept the tension light with her unintended yet hilarious remarks like this one after another offsides penalty on Seattle:
Shelli: “If they make five fouls are they taken out of the game?”
Tracy: “Are you talking about penalties?”
Shelli: “Yes, penalties. Are they taken out of the game if they commit five penalties like in basketball?”
Me: “No, but we’ll wish they were.”

After a Washington reception and an immediate tackle by Seattle:
Shelli: “Can you hit him like that?! That was very hard?! I mean was that a foul? He just caught the ball and they hit him! It was really hard; I don’t think that’s right.”
Tracy and me: “That’s called a tackle.”

Amongst many random comments during the game:
Shelli: “Why don’t their shoes match? I don’t think I can watch if their shoes don’t match.”
Shelli: “How come we’re in the bright colored suits? Those are going to be really hard to clean.”

As it looked like our Seahawks were going to pull off a victory, we got down to some serious fantasy discussion. Tracy, who wasn’t able to make the live draft, is third behind second place Cherene in league standing up to this point. Tracy’s team was group-drafted and we had decided that she couldn’t pass up on it kicker in the first round. Now we realize that she’s going to beat the majority of us. In keeping with her competitive nature, we heard her say, “Who is this Cherene and how do I get rid of her?”

PS - As the football game progressed, Tana, who was still a grandma-in-waiting at that time, was texting to keep many of us updated on the progress of her daughter who was in the hospital and gearing up for labor. The next morning at 6AM in another text update, still no baby, but Tana had another concern on her mind. “On another note 3 touchdowns for Percy called back by flags really???? Just had to chuckle, lost by two points because of those called back touchdowns.”

We now have a very proud grandma and a very new member of the Legion of Womb. Elliott was born Wednesday shortly after noon. So while Percy Harvin couldn’t deliver for Tana on Monday, her daughter Karis delivered for her on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Weeks 3 & 4 - Legion of Womb

Week 3 was a very odd week for me. I was visiting my son in Texas where he’s going to college. He is not a very avid football fan and the whole weekend was taken up with visiting and getting to know his life at college. There was the oil change, the financial conversations and the professors but no football. His friends took sympathy on me and helped me keep up with football this weekend by putting it on their phones. I know that there are many readers concerned over my son’s apparent disinterest in football, and I want to reassure you, I will never give up the cause, I will never back down, I will never give in.

Meanwhile back in Texas, I was getting texts. I was asked about trick plays and if those plays count for fantasy points. Some of the match-ups included best friends, who ended up accusing each other of cheating, and smarmy acceptance speeches from those who man-handled their match-ups. My daughter won her match-up, and then practiced her end-zone dance in order to show me when I arrived back in Washington.

In Week 4, I played the grandma-in-waiting Tana. As of writing this blog, there is still no word if her grandson has been born. So between occasional smack talk, was the updates on her daughter’s pregnancy. There was a mother/daughter match-up between Tani and McKenna that was pretty close all the way to the end with McKenna edging out her mom. Nikki who was playing Shelli struck gold when she started Matt Asiata, whom no one had ever heard of…until he gained her over 28 points. Which I would have given the Surprise of the week to until I saw we had a match-up end in a tie. Cherene and Tracy! In my years of playing fantasy I can’t remember ever seeing a tie. When I asked the players how they felt about the tie Cherene responded, “What kind of tie? A bow tie? Does it have stripes or dots?”

There is still more work to do…

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week 2: Legion of womb

I didn't realize that I had forgotten to post this. I wrote it a week a week ago when these issues were very much the center of attention. I almost discarded my post but decided to publish it anyway:

I sit at my computer trying to write and I contritely hang my head. A month ago I had invited my friends to take part in a great idea; to have a season of fun playing fantasy football. Within a week football has taken a seat and the problem of domestic violence has taken its place.

I am unsure of what to write. I have heard so many voices in the media, the players, and the NFL. I hear the criticisms coming from those who think the NFL should have done more. I have heard the demand for the commissioner’s job, heard the denials of who saw and didn’t see the video tapes. Seething anger has been aroused against the NFL for the way they have handled the reports, or lack of handling them. I have nothing to add to those voices or those opinions. Like everyone, I wish to sift through the grandstanding and the rhetoric of so many to get to the true issue and problem. As I have tried to streamline my view, and as that has occurred, the focus has gotten smaller and smaller until only one person is left, me.

I want true justice to be served. I want everyone with an agenda to step aside and get back to the original issue. An abuser and a victim. I want to take it further; I want it beyond the NFL. Not that they are off the hook. I want them squarely on the hook, except I believe that hook needs to be very large. I think a few more need to be placed there as well, myself included. If I am demanding an end to domestic violence in the NFL, if I want them to get it right then what am I doing about the issue? And, might I ask, what are you doing?

I read on a web site that stated 1000 acts of domestic violence alone occur every day*. This isn’t just an NFL issue. If there was only 1 act of domestic violence it’s too many. The NFL is a huge corporation, and I understand that I don’t have access to the resources that they do. But responsibility needs to lie with each one of us as well.

So once again, I ask, what are we doing? I believe we need to demand that the NFL stays relevant and involved in the solution of this criminal act, but are we demanding the same things of ourselves. Are we willing to help and put a solid effort into fighting against this crime and many others that involve helpless victims? If this terrible week in the NFL has brought you to a new awareness and if it has stirred your emotions, then focus that energy on helping the victims of domestic violence. There are local shelters that need our resources, help, and time. If bringing those to justice is more your preference, then help in that capacity. There are organizations that fight for victims of violence and human trafficking. They prosecute the offenders in the justice system. Give of your resources to them or use your talents to help. If you want to get the word out, there are varieties of ways to raise awareness.

Don’t be angry for a week and then make it the sole responsibility of the NFL to get it right. It’s your turn too. Don’t just demand a change from someone else, make your own.
(Jennifer Truman, Sept, 2014)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Week 1: Legion of Womb

Well the first week is in the books. And the first match-ups in the Legion of Womb are completed. We had a landslide victory of 43 points and two squeakers where the winners won by less than one point, .60 and .10, to be exact.

Fellow LOW owners are trading, re-arranging and benching like pros. We have had players taken off of waivers and one of our owners looks like they are rebuilding already. (She would neither confirm nor deny that these waiver acquisitions were prompted and/or carried out by her husband).

I’ve noticed the hint of a different culture beginning to emerge. Faint stirrings of a new awareness. What rumblings do I see from the distance? The random texts coming from these friends during the first Thursday night football game. I’m usually on Twitter while I’m watching football; I have always had the great pleasure of being able to connect with like-minded sports fans from all over. But now, with my league taking a personal interest in their teams, it has proven to be a delightful surprise. On Thursday night, I had texts coming and going and going from quite a few of them. Whenever an important play happened, I got a text from someone. It could have been shared mutual pleasure, a question, or assertive affirmation that one cannot draft too many tight ends.

Like you, our lives went on besides football, often times intersecting with one another. During the week, I have attended church with an owner; I have shared a long Labor Day weekend, and even sat beside another as we attended a funeral together. We have shed tears of loss, tears of joy and we eagerly await a grandbaby. We’ve gone on vacation, seen kids off to their first day of school as well as welcomed those same children as students to their first day of school. We’ve sat beside each other in the stands cheering on our kids as they play soccer, worried together over our adult children, and gave advice to those with younger babies.

I personally have experienced a job change. While that is an adventure by itself, what makes it notable is two of my owners are my job references as well. Last Tuesday, during a text conversation with Tana, she responds. “A trade: You give me Seattle’s defense in exchange for a good reference.” I chuckled as I stared at that text. It took less than one week for this experiment to get serious. On the heels of that thought came one more troubling: How bad do I want this new job?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Legion of Womb

There are few things closer to my heart than friends and football. I love the sisterhood and fellowship that happens when I am with my friends. Over the years and in many ways there has been deep conversations, sharing and mutual concern as we celebrate and grieve with one another. There is encouragement, sympathy and, always, laughter will make its way into every conversation. Now football is among the facets of these ever evolving relationships. When I got this crazy idea of writing about the football journeys of my friends, I wasn’t sure if anyone would be game for it. And yet, each person I asked said, “yes”. I’m sure this speaks to the daring of their characters, the trust of our friendship, and of course the promise of food. And so we embark in our first annual women’s only fantasy football league known as the Legion of Womb. It consists of twelve teams, made up of twelve female owners in varying degrees of football knowledge. Our motto is: “The league where women and womanly behavior dominate. A place where we pick teams based on names that make us laugh, obligatory issues of homer-ism, and the pretty patterns all the colors on the draft board make.”

I have the privilege of knowing each of these wonderful women (and girls) in different arenas so it was such a blessing for me to have them get to know one another under my roof. They vary in age from high schoolers to grandmas and everything in between. There are business owners, teachers, administrators, ministers, managers, and students. A few knew each other but others did not; by the end of the night, however, they were all talking as old friends. The food was abundant and the laughs were non-stop. And although there were few that would admit to football knowledge, the competition was still healthy.

We had our draft this past Monday. We decided it would be an offline draft so not only could we all be together but we could also get to know one another better. Much to my delight, a few of them showed up with fantasy football magazines, cheat sheets and/or notes from husbands or friends on the best strategy to employ when drafting. I also had a cheat sheet compiled for each of my non-football-motivated friends: Those who aren’t interested or know anything about passing yards, rushing yards, points for td’s, or the like. This cheat sheet ranked the top 12 players in each position based on years married, children and their ages, charities that they supported or started and the player’s favorite color (which may or may not have been assigned by me).

Then the draft began, you could have cut the tension with a knife. Well not really, we were making baby-talk to our youngest member, Regan who is 6 mos. old. But with the first pick of the first round of the first year of the Legion of Womb Football League went to Peyton Manning. The first round was off to a great start with players like Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham being taken. In fact the first five rounds really showed how serious these ladies were…or how serious the people they were “secretly” texting felt.

Into the 6th round, many of the obvious picks were gone and so some of the other drafting strategies started to emerge. My daughter and one of her friends (both sixteen) began to employ the “Who has the funniest sounding name?” technique. Others began to count to see how many players of our local team, the Seahawks they had on their team. Panic ensued when they found themselves woefully short. There were times after a name was called, that the crowd stopped to advise or approve of the choice. The analytical questions like, “Now tell me why you are picking him?” or “Is it morally right for a Seattle fan to pick a 49er?”

One of the funnier things to watch was the group intervention that came about when an owner tried to take a 4th tight end. “We are very concerned over your obsession with tight ends, and from now on, you can’t draft anymore.” “Well I think I only need one more.” “No. you are done. Pick from the running back sheet, we aren’t going to allow you to pick a tight end.”

There were friends who could not make the draft for one reason or another and so we drafted their players by committee. It was one of the few times a streak of ruthlessness emerged: We drafted a kicker in the first round for one of them. But we began to feel guilty and gave her better picks for the remainder.

I had my friends fill out a questionnaire about why they were willing to be a part of this. They all have a desire to know more. My friend, Nikki, who is a part of the Legion of Womb, knows and follows football like I do, we are both excited to share and watch others love this sport the way we do. Although fantasy Football is a game inside a game, it gives the team owners a little more involvement in the NFL. It also helps to have a bit more global information about other NFL teams. I have already begun to hear a different language being spoken among my friends, “ Do you think I should bench this player in week 1?” or “Since I wasn’t allowed to draft anymore tight ends, can I get one off of waivers?” The answer is still no, but it warms my heart to hear the questions!

This is the first installment of the Legion of Womb chronicles. WE will be back after the first week to tell you more about the teams and how my beloved owners are doing after their first big week of football!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Underwear Olympics

Well my football pupils, my gridiron companions, my pigskin novices, you have survived an entire football season. I hope your off-season has been relaxing, fulfilling and memorable. I have tried some new things and gotten to know myself a little better. I have tried a cake decorating class with my daughter and discovered that confectioners’ sugar can cover every square foot of my house if the mixer is turned on before the water is added. I have learned that the very same sugar is quite disagreeable while it is in the digestive tract of an 80lb boxer. What I have confirmed about myself is that I still hate baking.

But I have great news for us all! Football is back! Now before you stop reading this blog, let me explain. There are no games scheduled, most NFL players are gone and Monday nights are still your nights to do whatever your heart’s desire. But even while the action on the field is at zilch, the NFL is still hard at work. Teams are making adjustments to their rosters, acquiring other NFL players, negotiating contracts, and getting a close look at prospective rookies entering the NFL this year.

One of the ways that teams look at prospective rookie talent is at a four day event called the NFL Scouting Combine. It’s happening this weekend and you can catch all the live action on TV. Isn’t that exciting? The players that are participating this weekend were selected by a group of scouts. There will be about 335 players that just finished their college careers and are looking at entering the NFL for this upcoming football season. What they will be tested on are physical skills; 40 yard dash, shuttle run, broad and vertical jumps amongst other drills. Then come the physical examinations by team doctors, interviews by team coaches and Wonderlic testing that looks at aptitude of players. While the Combine will not break or make a player that is trying out for the NFL, it can add to the overall evaluation for the teams that are looking to draft them.

What you can equate this to is a four day group interview. Having gone through one recently I can completely empathize with the pressure that comes with it. The one thing that I can take comfort in is the fact I wasn’t interviewing in skin-tight skivvies (which is probably why I have the job now). I have heard the Combine renamed the Underwear Olympics by local radio sportscasters. Having watched some track and field events, I can only assume that the apparel is designed to be aerodynamic. Having done my share of cardio and jogging I can only be grateful that nothing I do is done before an audience of evaluators.

Another term that is has come about since the Combine has been Workout Warrior. This term can be used in a derogatory way. It comes about as a player who looks great at the Combine. He performs the drills and wows the scouts unfortunately it does not translate to performance on the field as a football player. Although I would love to be accused of being a Workout Warrior (eat your heart out Shaun T), it is usually not a positive term in the NFL.

With the overwhelming popularity of the NFL, events like the Combine and the upcoming draft are now becoming must-see TV. As an NFL junkie, all I can say is, “Thank you”and “Please put some clothes on before you catch a cold”.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl Watching Commandments

Many of us are going to be watching this weekend’s final NFL game of the season. For two regions, and their fans this is the big one, the summit of Mt. Everest, the Super Bowl. It is the goal of all 32 NFL teams, it is the desire of every football fan and the stuff dreams are made of. I am one such blessed individual to be able to say that my team is in the Super Bowl. With that proclamation, my dear football sister-newbies, I have some final suggestions, or guidelines, for watching this game with other football fans.

Most of the people I know or have talked to are going to be watching this game with others. A lot of them will have more experience, more enthusiasm, more knowledge and more emotional vested interest into the game than a new follower might have. For those of us who have a team playing this Sunday, the rules change. The game means more, the plays are more crucial and the viewing is more focused. The Super Bowl parties are meant to be for one thing, to watch the game. It is not a place for socializing. For 164 days out of the year, our relationships with others mean more than anything, but for about 4 hours on Sunday afternoon, all relational rules must be shelved for the good of the game. So here are some things that you can do to ensure that come Monday morning, all relationships are back to ideal:

1. No talking prior to the snap. The tension is building as the teams break their huddle and line up. For the Seahawk and/or Bronco fan sitting next to you, their heart rate is increasing at an alarming rate, they are taking shallow breaths, and their eyes are darting back and forth as they desperately try to see all the match-ups right before they happen.

2. No talking during the snap. This is where the action starts on the field. It is not the time to point out that linemen should not wear white football pants. It is not the time to ask why Peyton Manning says “Omaha” a lot, or if Michael Bennett’s sack dance can be censored. The fan next to you is watching the play unfold as they try not to swallow their tongue.

3. No talking after the play ends. This is where you use observation tools to gauge the reaction of those sitting next to you. If there is visible relief, then the play that just occurred was good. If there is anxiety in any verbal or non-verbal form (this could be from cursing to actual tears), then the play was bad. Try to refrain from immediately asking, “What happened?” there will usually be a re-play on TV.

4. Avoid remarking about the reactions of those around you. Once, I had a relative tell me how I sounded while I was in labor, it was not appreciated. Nor is it appreciated when someone remarks about behavior at a game. Both labor and football viewing are very intense, painful, at times agonizing and yet both can produce the sweetest of joy at the end. Let’s just leave it at that.

5. Seahawk/Bronco fans will NOT be watching the Super Bowl for the commercials. Commercials are for the rest of the world’s viewing audience that has no vested interest in the game. Commercial breaks for those fans will be used for rapid bathroom trips or wiping away tears or undivided intercession or shots of oxygen. You can determine if you like this year’s Doritos commercial better than last year’s but give the fan next to you until Monday to think of anything else.

6. The half time show will do nothing to calm the mind of the fan next to you. They will be trying to predict the adjustments that each team will make. They might be filled with anxiety over weaknesses they saw in their team in the first half or they will be filled with anxiety over strengths they saw. Why anxiety over strengths? Because what if the other team adjusts to that strength the second half? Can you see how the mind of a fan can work against itself? Don’t ask how much they like Bruno Mars, just make sure the DVR is on, they’ll want to watch him later. And by later, it could mean a year later.

7. At the end of the game, rejoice with those rejoicing and weep with those who are weeping. The rejoicing part is easy. But the weeping part is a bit trickier. Try to avoid the cliché statements like “there’s always next year” or “they played a good game” or “it’s just a game” or “are you going to finish those chicken wings?” Just cry with them, and if you have to speak, use soft soothing tones.

8. Know that Monday always comes. Win or lose, the fan next to you will go back to the guy or girl you know and love. Monday will be a time to look back and recap but also a time to look ahead. Monday starts the time where football becomes about business. Terms like salary-cap, free agents, mock drafts and OTA’s will take precedent in football lingo. And everyone’s eyes will turn to the future. Because the first week of September 2014, everyone is 0-0 again.

Have a great Super Bowl and…GO Hawks!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Father's Daughter

Imagine the scene: six women in a hotel room, screaming their hearts out. I am not sure if this was unusual on a Sunday afternoon anywhere else but in Portland Oregon, there were six misplaced Seattle Seahawks fans that were not able to be home. We were doing what everyone else up north in Seattle was doing; watching the NCF Championship game. Of the six women three were teenage soccer players who just got done playing their own game before racing back to the hotel room to watch the opening kickoff between the Seahawks and the 49ers. The other three were their moms (I am one of those). After 60 minutes that I swear took another year off my life, the announcer said “And the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl”, I felt tears. Everyone was screaming and hugging but I stayed to myself feeling a little foolish. This is a game right? Whether the Seahawks won or lost wasn’t going to change my everyday life, my marriage, my family or any other relationship so why was I this emotional? Why wasn’t I able to feel the exuberance of the moment?

I am now 48 hours removed from the emotional scene of the Seahawks win. And I can now say that my tears were a very appropriate response to this amazing season. My tears represented not only happiness, and elation of the moment but of a bittersweet wistfulness of years gone by. I am a representative of the first generation of kids who grew up with a professional football team in Seattle. I was born in Seattle and grew up an hour north. I was raised in a very devout catholic home where collegiately, I was a Husky fan first but a Notre Dame fan closely on the heels. To this day, I get a warm and fuzzy when I see the shiny gold helmets of the Fighting Irish. In 1976, when Seattle got an NFL expansion team, I was a young girl. I remember the contest to name the new Seattle team. I remember wondering what a seahawk was (a fish-eating bird of prey). But the most impactful thing that happened to me was what football did to my relationship with my dad. Once he realized that I was very interested in football, he began to teach me. He explained the formation of and the purpose of the National Football League. He bought me a magnetic plaque with all the NFL helmets so I could keep tabs on all the standings throughout the league. He subscribed to the NFL Digest where he gave me the magazine once he was done and would tell me which articles to read. He taught me the West Coast offense, the “I” formation, and the shotgun formation. He quizzed me on the first roster of the Seahawks; Jack Patera, Jim Zorn, Steve Largent and Sherman Smith were household names.

Every Sunday, I went to church and then came home to watch football with my family. Usually over the course of the afternoon our viewing audience would dwindle to two, my dad and I. We would discuss play calling, come up with scenarios, opine about which players we liked or disliked. When I graduated high school, our conversations consisted of concern over the Nordstrom family selling the franchise to an out of state owner named Ken Behring. When I was going through my rebellious season of life, when I became the main reason my father was bald, the only thing (and I stress “only”) that we were able to talk about without serious eruptions was Ground Chuck (Knox), Curt Warner and if The Boz was for real. When I got engaged, I wanted a winter wedding, the concern my dad had was the football schedule. Instead of being offended, I was decidedly concerned as well. And so our wedding date was scheduled so that Dad could all be home to watch the Seahawks/Raiders game. At this time, my viewing partner changed from my dad to my husband but it didn’t stop Dad and me from commiserating before or during a game by phone. The following year, my first son was born and he had the foresight to come the day before the Seahawks played the Raiders again, much to my father’s sincere gratitude. Between the joyous event of having a child, and my father having a grandson, was the concern over our quarterback position. Our choices of QB that year were Gelbaugh, Stauffer, and McGwire. We both agreed, we needed to draft a QB. When my second son was born, we had all our hopes on QB Rick Mirer, and when my daughter was born we were relishing the fact that our former Husky QB Warren Moon was behind center for our Seahawks. News came to us that my mother was diagnosed with cancer around the same time that the Kingdome was demolished. The Seahawks played two seasons in Husky Stadium and the interest in the team throughout the community plummeted. It was the only time in history where the local games were blacked out because of ticket sales. So we did what every Seahawks fan does during blackouts, we listened to the game on AM radio while watching another game on TV. Dad and I would call each other to talk football and check up on Mom. We waited to see what new owner Paul Allen was going to do and to see if the coming savior Mike Holmgren was going to bring new life to our beloved Seahawks.

I remember the last game that I shared with my father. It was September 14th, 2003. My mother fought cancer longer than any doctor thought she could but she had passed away in April of 2003. My father who was such a faithful Seahawks fan was an even more loving and faithful husband. The grief of losing his wife took a toll on him and he suffered a severe stroke in August. We had to put him on hospice a few weeks later. That Sunday afternoon in the nursing home, I watched the Seahawks roll over the Cardinals 37 - 0 as Dad lay in bed. He had lost the ability to speak so I talked. It was the first time we talked about something besides football during the football game. I figured the Seahawks had it well in hand and didn’t need my total attention, so I used that time to say the things to Dad I knew I would never have the chance to say again. He died 5 days later.

We moved to Atlanta right after that. We spent two wonderful years there. It took me a little while before I caught on to the fact that no one in Georgia knew much about the West Coast sports and even less about the Seahawks. They thought I was cute when I put my Seahawks flag out in my yard and they blessed my heart a lot. We moved back to Seattle toward the end of the 2005 season. We got back in time for the playoffs and the first time that Seattle won a berth to the Super Bowl. We watched the Super Bowl at our brother-in-law’s house and the tears were on my cheeks as the Seahawks were announced while they took the field. I tried to hide them, once again, feeling foolish about crying over a football game.

Now 10 years after my father passed, I think I am beginning to come to my senses. Our Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl once again. I wish I could spend another game with my father, although I can imagine how he would be reacting. He would love Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll, possibly petitioning the Vatican for the first two non-Catholic, living saints to be canonized. He would be so frustrated with Richard Sherman’s off-field antics all the while acting just like him, but with the language of a drunken sailor. He would be giggling like a school girl every time Marshawn Lynch breaks a tackle. He would never remember the name “The Legion of Boom”. He would have butchered their name by calling them “The Boom Legion” or “The Legion of Doom” or “The Region that Booms Happen”. But I can also imagine him sitting in his favorite chair with his glasses halfway down his nose, talking about the matchup between Peyton Manning and our secondary. And anyone within a hundred yards would see the gleam in his eyes.

This week, I will be taking time to do something I don’t do as often as I should, I will be visiting the place where my mom and dad are laid to rest and I will make sure he has a very big 12th Man flag. This Super Bowl, I will be letting the tears flow without shame. And then I will celebrate what was and what is. Now instead of celebrating with my father, I celebrate with my husband, my family and the entire 12th Man nation. And I will be grateful that this game, that is “just a game”, has been an essential part of my life.