<i>Steve Utz wonders if he's found the totem for the Seahawks' new age of success.</i>

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Ah, springtime. A season of new beginnings, of hope. A time of emerging. New flowers are sprouting. The trees are beginning to regrow their leaves, to blossom.

For a football fan, though, it can be a frustrating time of year. There just isn’t much happening. The draft is coming up, and that should prove interesting this year. The talent pool seems deeper at several positions than it has been in several years, although that is probably said a bit too often. What the Seahawks will do is anybody’s guess. Personally, I find the uncertainty exciting. Whatever they do, I have a feeling they will get quality players.

The only other thing of note coming up is the announcement of the schedule. That could actually be exciting, as speculation and rumors are flying around about the possibility of Monday Night games. After making the playoffs, and playing one of the most exciting games of the first round, Seattle fans are expecting at least one MNF appearance, possibly more.

From the photos of the recent mini camp, it looks like Seattle is being blessed with a fairly nice spring this year. Sunshine and good weather can raise people's spirits. Good. Our new players haven’t been directly exposed to the normal Pacific Northwest weather pattern yet. For that matter, neither has anybody else in the NFL. After two years in our new outdoor stadium, we’ve had what, about 5 minutes of rain at a game? Go figure.

Here in Southern California, we’re going through what we like to call “June gloom.” Never mind that it’s only April, it’s just a normal spring time weather pattern. We’re getting cloudy skies, often all day, but usually burning off by afternoon. The temp stays in the 60's and 70's. We’re getting light drizzle at times, and some showers in the evenings when things cool down. Nothing heavy of course, just enough to clean the crud out of the air and deposit it on your car. Frankly, as a displaced Washingtonian, I find it quite refreshing, although most locals don’t really like it.

Well, I was sitting here wondering if I have anything to feel thankful for this spring. I came to the conclusion that I do.

I finished and filed my taxes, and wonder of wonders, I’ll be getting some money back. The refund from the Feds will cover what I owe the state, plus a little more. Believe me, after receiving a lump sum severance payout in November, I was really worried about that. Overall, the money I get back will help me survive longer through my “temporary retirement.”

The team has handled this off season pretty well. I prefer Wistrom over Kearse. He’s a better all around player. We signed the best FA wide receiver out there (that being D-Jack), and managed to hold on to an emerging talent at DT in Cedric Woodard. The rather large number of shoulder surgeries is a concern. What’s up with that?

But I had something else to be happy about.

I was sitting there yesterday, vegetating like any self respecting unemployed engineer should, when I heard my doorbell ring. I got up and peeked out the window to see who was there. Nobody.

But down in the corner of the window, I saw something lying at my door. When I opened the door, there was a package there. I looked up the street and the UPS truck was just turning out of sight. I picked up the package and brought it in the house. I hadn’t expected it to come so soon.

I ripped it open (actually, I had to carefully cut it with scissors). There it was, the item I had ordered just a few days before.

You see, I was feeling a little guilty about last season. We had managed a great season at home, and did poorly on the road, as we all know. However, it wasn’t until lately that it really came to me. The only jersey I owned was a Shaun Alexander replica home jersey. I wore it to every game at the local watering hole where my buds and I gather to watch. It came to me recently that I had failed to support my team adequately.

So, now I am the proud owner of a Matt Hasselbeck road white replica jersey. I will wear it this season for road games, and the Alexander home jersey for home games. Voila! We should go 16-0 in 2004.

Now, there’s a reason to be happy.

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