“Facts, sir, are
nothing without their nuance” – Norman Mailer
I’ve never liked report
cards. Didn’t like ‘em when I was in school, and I’m not fond
of ’em now. Grades, in and of themselves, minimize and dismiss the nuances
and intangibles of a thing by rounding up or down and placing a thing in a convenient
slot. A through F, minus E. Norman Mailer understood…facts are nothing
without their nuance.
So when it comes time to
summarize a season, especially one that featured so many “What the hell?!?!?”
moments as the 2004 Seattle Seahawks’ season did, it’s an injustice
to format a thing as such.
Uh…what does that
mean? Compared to what? The rest of the league? An arbitrary ceiling known only
to the journalist grading the quarterbacks? What the quarterbacks would have
done if a thousand external factors had landed on a different number? Did one
particular play merit the “+”? Is Kyle Boller a “C”
quarterback with a “D-“ offense around him, or vice versa? Is Matt
Hasselbeck less of a quarterback because his receivers spray “Football
Antidote” on their hands every week? How do you quantify this?
A football season isn’t
so simple, and the performances that define it over the long term aren’t
simple at all. So, when thinking of a way to wrap up the entity that was the
2004 Seattle Seahawks, I decided against the derivative “Team Report Card”
slant. Instead, I decided to go with the derivative “Take a bunch of quotes
from a movie you love, and assign said quotes to the people, players and games
that defined the season” slant, as popularized by the ubiquitous Bill
Simmons. And given the movie I chose, I think the concept of attempting to discover
originality by way of derivation is pretty appropriate. Besides, it’s
a lot more fun.
The movie(s) in question?
“Kill Bill (Vol. 1 and 2)”, Quentin Tarantino’s genre-busting,
whack-em-up Tale O’ Revenge, starring Uma Thurman as Beatrix Kiddo and
David Carradine as “Bill”. Brief synopsis:
Bill is the mastermind behind
the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, a nasty band of killers-for-hire, and
quite possibly the most dangerous women in the world. Beatrix (“Black
Mamba”) Kiddo is the group’s franchise player, until she mysteriously
disappears. Thinking that she’s dead, and looking for her killer, Bill
uncovers the truth – Beatrix is alive, and has decided to move on. More
surprises await him. What Beatrix doesn’t realize is that the Deadly Viper
Assassination Squad is NOT an “opt-out” organization. Bill brings
this to her attention with a bloody massacre in El Paso, Texas, where Beatrix
is hiding out. Bill thinks he has taken care of Beatrix once and for all, save
the off-chance she’ll ever awaken from the coma he put her in by “popping
a cap in her crown”, which proves to be a MAJOR tactical error on his
Upon awakening from a four-year
“Big Sleep” (any similarity to the Seahawks’ defense is purely
coincidental…), Beatrix is understandably less than pleased at the rough
treatment she received at the hands of her former sensei (and lover). So, Beatrix
composes a “Death List Five”, upon which she writes the names of
the Squad members who ruined her life: Bill’s brother Budd (Sidewinder),
Vernita “Copperhead” Green, O-ren “Cottonmouth” Ishii,
Elle “California Mountain Snake” Driver and Bill (Snake Charmer)
What transpires is quite
the little party. As with any Tarantino film, “Kill Bill” is both
wildly derivative and stunningly original. You’ll get the usual time-shifting
storylines (that he somehow makes work), the usual heaping helpings of stylistic
homage, and the usual unparalleled marriage of music to film. Why do I like
“Kill Bill”, in particular, enough to write an article around it?
Let’s just say that a double feature of “Fists of Fury” and
“For A Few Dollars More” is my idea of a good time. And if you are
familiar with the works of both Ennio Morricone AND Sonny Chiba and you HAVEN’T
seen this movie? Well, get on board, Paisan/Buckeroo/Grasshopper!
In the meantime, let’s
take a look back at the long, strange trip known as the Seattle Seahawks’
2004 season. And since we like to keep it topical at Seahawks.NET, we’ll
start things off with a few quotes that summarize recently dismissed Team President
“When I woke
up, I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as a ‘Roaring Rampage
of Revenge’. I roared. And I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction.
I’ve killed a hell of a lot of people to get to this point…but I
have only one more. The last one. The one I’m drivin’ to right now.”
To everyone who was ground
under the jackboot in Whitsitt’s eight-year Seahawk Slash-o-rama…every
long-term employee who found their belongings in a cardboard box on their desks,
every current employee who developed whiplash looking for the guillotine, every
journalist that was ever intimidated or excluded by his P.R. Goon Squad, every
fan who was forced to endure a customer service nightmare just to buy season
tickets…and to Mike Holmgren, who had the fortitude to survive six years
of Whitsitt’s haranguing, clueless interference and emerge as the Last
these agonizing last few minutes of life you have left…let me answer that
question you asked earlier more thoroughly. Right at this moment, the biggest
‘R’ I feel is Regret. Regret…that maybe the greatest warrior
I have ever met…met her end at the hands of a bushwhackin’, scrub,
alkie piece of <expletive> like you.”
To Whitsitt's hamfisted handling of Mike Reinfeldt and Ted Thompson, the team’s
former Senior Vice President and Vice President of Football Operations, respectively.
Reinfeldt was the Seahawks’ last bastion of salary cap wisdom before Whitsitt
allowed his contract to expire and asked him to take a significant pay cut.
He responded by walking away last February. In the eleven months since, there
has been little progress with the daunting list of free agents the team could
lose. Thompson left the Seahawks to take the position of General Manager with
the Green Bay Packers, but being ordered off the field during the Seahawks-Rams
playoff game (as he reportedly was) certainly didn’t engender any feelings
Reinfeldt is possibly available
(and has been the subject of rampant speculation/wishful thinking, including
mine), but Thompson, who recently told the Seattle Times that he would have
considered throwing his name in the hat to replace Whitsitt, wasn’t going
to stick around for that chance. Reinfeldt and Thompson both played key roles
in Ron Wolf’s dynastic tenure in Green Bay in the 1990’s, partially
due to the fact that Wolf knew how to treat valued colleagues.
a Hattori Hanzo sword? It was priceless!”
“Not in El Paso, it ain’t. In El Paso, I got me $250 for it.”
To Whitsitt’s most
craven, cavalier gesture…the brokering of Steve Largent’s #80 to
Jerry Rice upon Rice’s trade to the team in October. Whitsitt called Largent,
put Rice on the phone (telling Rice that Largent wanted him to call) and asked
for the “temporary transfer” of Largent’s retired number,
effectively putting the two greatest wide receivers in NFL history on the spot
in one fell swoop. Whitsitt compounded this error by letting Rice take the heat
until Rice’s wife told the San Jose Mercury-News the real sequence of
events. Largent, as is his nature, took the dignified route and allowed Rice
to wear the number. It’s a toss-up as to what was more offensive in this
process – the fact that Whitsitt so arrogantly displayed his complete
lack of regard for the team’s history, or the fact that he never understood
why the fans were so affronted by the entire…erm…”transaction”.
But when you’re dealing with a guy who ordered the removal of team memorabilia
that preceded his tenure at Seahawk HQ…all bets are off.
Except for one. Whitsitt,
for his part, was also directing the immediate manufacture of a Jerry Rice replica
jersey – with the number 80, of course – to be sold for the princely
sum of $130.
“This is me
at my most masochistic.”
quotes to Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle P-I three days before he was fired.
Put on your asbestos suit and take a step back:
His role in
saving the Seahawks? “I've still got the press release where
I was having the press conference to say that Paul has withdrawn. It was Easter
Sunday, and I talked him into it. He was going to Japan. I'm home on Easter
Sunday, convincing Paul, 'Let me not do that press conference.' We got far enough
with the politicians, and he didn't like the vibe. He said, 'We're done.' And
when he's done, he's done. I said, 'Give me until you come back from Japan.
I'm going down there (Olympia) and I've got an idea where you negotiate an option.'
Then we got the whole year to work with the politicians. Long story short, he
said, 'OK.' I went down there and got it done in a week."
His role in bringing Mike Holmgren to Seattle? "I hired
Mike Holmgren. Paul Allen didn't even know who he was. I got (Mike) to come
back on a 32-hour trip to have dinner at Paul's house the night before we announced
it. Because Paul agreed he should at least meet the guy before we do it. And
it was important for Mike's ego. It was all me. I did the money, which was massive.
So nobody wants him to succeed more than me, because it's on my report card."
himself? “Two years ago, I took his GM stuff away from him. Which
he wasn't doing anyway. I know he can coach. But I've got to get him energized.
I've got to get him working a little harder. It was a little bit of a hiccup.
Did he want it to happen? No. But we got through that."
On the sixteen
free agents the team had apparently made no effort to re-sign, or even negotiate
with? " Let's pretend that we loaded them all up last year with
big contracts and you have a monster payroll, you're monster tapped out on the
cap, and have a very mediocre team. If all these free agents are so good, and
Paul has to write that big a check, why haven't we won a playoff game in six
Wow...you DID flunk chemistry, didn't you? Just curious, Bob…how have
you managed to go through life knowing full well that others have taken credit
for your roles in the first lunar landing, breaking the Watergate story, getting
the hostages out of Iran and the invention of the internet? And with what transportation
does it take 32 hours to get from Green Bay to Seattle? Was Mike Holmgren riding
a covered wagon?
“So, I suppose
it’s a little late for an apology, huh?”
“You suppose correctly.”
To Mark Collins, the Seattle
contractor who ran the “Save Our Seahawks” cause in the mid-1990’s.
As Les Carpenter reported in the Seattle Times on January 16, Collins spent
over a year and lost more than $100,000 of his own money fighting to keep the
Seahawks in Seattle in the wake of BehringGate. When Paul Allen bought the team,
Collins was promised season tickets for life. Then, he got the “Sorry
– that’s tickets for six years” end-around. Then, it was tickets
for the first and sixth years only (insert picture of George Steinbrenner here).
Collins fought back and received tickets for six seasons. I’m sure THAT
made him feel good!
Needless to say, it would behoove Whitsitt’s replacement to get right
on that lifetime tickets thing for Mr. Collins. In fact, current CEO and Marketing
Guru Tod Leiweke could take care of that right now. Guys who define a grass-roots
fanbase to that extent are NOT the sort of people you want to alienate.
that begging? You can beg better that that.”
To whatever organization
you try to sucker into a job down the road, Mr. Whitsitt. If there’s any
justice, you’ll hear this little bit of smack Gogo Yubari gave to Beatrix
in the House of Blue Leaves…
“She must suffer ‘til her last breath.”
“That, Elle darlin’, I can pretty much damn well guarantee.”
And one last thing, Bob
– Elle’s bargaining chip with Budd for the sale of Beatrix’
Hanzo Sword pretty adequately describes how the fanbase is left feeling about
you. Don’t come back to the “Q” for any “Old Home Week”
celebrations – I’ve never been pummeled with 67,000 plastic bottles,
but I’d imagine it stings a little.
“I never saw
anyone Buffalo Bill the way she Buffaloed Bill.”
To Seahawks owner Paul Allen…while
we thank you always for saving the team for Seattle and finally ridding the
organization of “The Menace”, aren’t you just the slightest
bit embarrassed at the length of time it took you to figure this out, and the
organizational atrophy suffered under his watch? Far be it from me to offer
unsolicited advice to a man who has a higher net worth than Europe…but
you might want to consider expanding the braintrust who reports to you to a
number larger than one in future.
“I know this
is a ridiculous question before I ask it…but you haven’t, by any
chance, kept up with your swordplay?”
To Randy Mueller, the former
Seahawks/Saints GM and current ESPN analyst who seems to be the media’s
breakaway frontrunner for Whitsitt’s job. Mueller, for his part, has referred
to the Seattle chair as a “Dream Job”. There are those who point
to Mueller’s cap-craziness during his past time in the Seahawks’
organization as good enough reason to look elsewhere. Others say that he was
entrenched in an impossible situation and did the best he could. Whatever decision
is made (and I wouldn’t mind Mueller’s return at all), there are
at least sixteen reasons why it must be made with not only a great sense of
urgency, but with unprecedented clarity…
soap opera…hurry up!”
To Matt Hasselbeck, Walter
Jones, Shaun Alexander, Itula Mili, Alex Bannister, Heath Evans, Chris Gray,
Floyd Womack, Robbie Tobeck, Brock Huard, Orlando Huff, Ken Lucas, Brandon Mitchell,
Chike Okeafor, Tom Rouen and Ken Walter….also known as (at least) sixteen
reasons. Sixteen unrestricted free agents, the fates of whom the Seahawks have
very little time to negotiate. Of course, some of those decisions will take
very little time, but that quarterback/running back/left tackle/tight end/center/defensive
end/cornerback talent bunch is a doozy. “Number of franchise players wherein
a team smooched the pooch” is NOT a statistic the Seahawks want to lead
the NFL in…
Oh yeah…and the draft
is in three months. Tick tock, guys!
“If this were
the military, I’d be General by now!”
“Oh, so you’d be General, huh? If you were General, I’d be
Emperor, and you’d still get the sake. So shut up and get the sake!”
Hattori Hanzo’s hilarious
sushi-bar standoff with his longtime flunky goes to current General Manager
Bob Ferguson…who, should he survive whatever vestiges of the Whitsitt
Purge remain, would be well-advised to define his role. Bob, we’re not
quite sure what you do, but we’ll assume you do it exceedingly well. I
mean, you can always hire someone to get the sake, if you get my drift…
never a straight line. And like a forest, it’s easy to lose your way…to
get lost…to forget where you came in.”
To everyone left in the
front office…first, congratulations for surviving. Now it’s time
to band together, fill the holes and move forward. Time is fleeting, but the
good news is that after Whitsitt’s reign, there’s nowhere to go
Oh…one personal gripe
to get out of the way before I wrap up Part One:
got a song? How ‘bout ‘Love Me Tender’? I can play that.”
To the individuals who control
the stadium music at Qwest Field - a couple of thoughts:
First, this is a football
stadium, not a wine-tasting event at the Sahalee Country Club. Dinky songs by
one-hit British weenie-bands (“Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve???)
don’t cut the mustard. Think Metallica, and not just “Enter Sandman”.
I mean, Mariano Rivera of the Yankees uses that song when he comes into the
game from the bullpen! Yankee music! Icky! Think “Creeping Death”
when the defense hits the field. Think Pantera’s “Yesterday Don’t
Mean <Expeletive>” at next year’s home opener. Or, as
our own Scott Jones once suggested, a good, strong dose of Led Zeppelin’s
“Immigrant Song” might just whip the home crowd into a Jack Black-style
frenzy. Not that we’ve needed help lately…
Second, that home crowd
you heard throughout the 2004 season? The same one that took several opposing
quarterbacks out of their games? The music has to be heard over us, or there’s
no point in playing it. If your sound system’s master volume has a defect
that does not allow it to go above, say, “2”…FIX IT. Think
of it as a favor to us, ahem...”face-painted freaks”.
Stay tuned for
Part Two, which will run on Monday…
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail
him at email@example.com.