The Seahawks.NET staff has informed me that all rookies have to earn article titles. Similar to how rookies have to earn a helmet decal with the Dallas Cowboys, and now the New Orleans Saints. So I'll get a coveted title when Reggie Bush earns a decal, or one of us gets popped for tax evasion. Whichever comes first. Luckily, "The Man" said nothing about sub-titles.
The Seahawks vs. Vikings off-season dance
Unless you've been living in a cave, spiderhole, West Virginia, or maybe aren't an obsessive sports geek you've heard about the unique cold war between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings this off season.
If you haven't, first get out of The Hollows and second, all you need to know is the Vikings offered one of the Hawks premiere free agents, Steve Hutchinson, a very lucrative contract offer. Which normally wouldn't be a big deal since the Hawks had a right to match the offer, but there was an absurd clause in the contract, a loophole, making it virtually impossible for the Seahawks, and only the Seahawks, to match. The Seahawks reacted, and rightfully, with a nearly identical offer to one of the Vikings free agents, Nate Burleson, making it impossible for the Vikings to match.
The juicy affair lead to much coverage by the national media, squabbling and name calling between fans, labeling of former players as traitors, review of the specific loopholes used, and created an odd rivalry between Seattle Seahawks fans and the Province of Minnesota. It's been analyzed from an X's and O's standpoint ad nauseaum.
Being one that enjoys jumping on the pile, I'd like to discuss two specific symptoms of this odd courtship.
The loss of Steve Hutchinson to the Vikings is no doubt a tough one to handle. He is without a doubt the best offensive guard in the game and arguably a top ten offensive lineman. But how much will it really affect play on the field?
If you listen to some of the uneducated sports media or any antagonistic friend who happens to support another team, they'll lazily say, "well they're done now". Maybe years of ingesting known poisons have dulled me, but I don't believe it'll effect overall production at all.
Without a doubt the Seahawks offensive line was the best in the NFL last year. Simply put, as dominant a unit as I've seen since the 2000 Ravens defensive front seven. What a lot of people don't realize is that not only was it the best unit starting every Sunday, but it was the best unit in terms of depth as well. If the Hawks had to choose a unit to lose a player from, I'm pretty sure it'd be the offensive line.
The hole filled by Hutch's absence will be filled with a proven starter in this league, not some seventh-round draft pick from Boise State. The Hawks will be holding auditions for this vacancy in the magnificent town of Cheney, WA this July and August.
Conventional wisdom tells us that competing for the job will be the sexy and talented Pork Chop Womack (no, not Floyd, it's Pork Chop) and recent free agent acquisition Tom Ashworth. There are other scenarios, but my gut tells me it'll be of these two.
Pork Chop's a talented and versatile offensive lineman, who would be a starter if he happened to be playing for most other teams in the league. He's started many times for this team, mostly at what a lot of people feel isn't his ideal position Tackle, and played well. I have little or no doubt that he'd fill in just fine.
Tom Ashworth is someone I know little about. What I do know is that he fought his way into the league as an undrafted free agent and played for the New England Patriots the past four seasons. The fact he came into the NFL undrafted shows me determination and coachability. The fact that he played for the Patriots the past four seasons tells me he's a smart team oriented player. Good enough for me.
In the end, the loss of Hutch may take away the Seahawks amazing ability to run on 3rd and 5 when everyone in the stadium and the other team know it's coming. No, they might be forced to pass now which will undoubtedly more than compensate for any loss in run production. Catching some of those balls will be Nate Burleson, which brings my to my second point.
When the details came out on Nate Burleson's free agent offer sheet, specifically how the Hawks had called "shenanigans" by putting a similarly ridiculous clause in it, I was elated. That's just the type of spiteful nonsense a balding, pasty, angry, shamefully endowed little man, like myself enjoys. Oh, and there's the fact he's from Seattle, an established/proven wide receiver in the NFL, whose physical attributes and talents couldn't be better suited for the West Coast Offense if Bill Walsh himself had created him (Bill Walsh does consider himself god by the way, go ahead ask him).
Then came an interesting interview I read on this very site, with an author from www.footballoutsiders.com Michael David Smith, and Seahawks.net's usual suspects. The transcript itself appeared to be in a foreign language, a bunch of draft geeks getting together to "hug", but he did bring up an interesting point. He questioned the signing of Burleson, offering up an option of signing a veteran back-up QB and freeing Seneca Wallace to play wide receiver. And, in my opinion he's right.
I'm a strong believer that
certain players just have that knack for making special plays, during the most
crucial times, all the time. It's a non-quantifiable talent, obviously, but
it's something you just know when you see it. Michael Boulware has it, as does
Lofa Tatupu, Tom Brady, Michael Vick, etc. I'm not saying Seneca will or can
be one of those special guys. I just have a gut feel given the opportunity,
he'd wow us all.
Seneca's a guy who's been repeatedly mentioned by his teammates as being the best athlete on the team. He's continually endorsed by current and former CB's as a potentially great Wide Receiver. He's done everything asked of him in practice and even working that much harder in the offseason, and his reward? Continue to watch the games he should be breaking open.
Am I happy with the Burleson signing? Yes, he'll be great piece in the already superior Seahawk offense and you should always bring back home grown talent. Yet, I'm a little disappointed that the 2006 season will be another year we're all left wondering "what if".
Sippin' from the Cup of Joe
In a recent interview on Colin Cowheards ESPN show, the man who made the single face-bar unfashionable for future generations, Joe Theismann, called Ricky Williams a "disgrace to the game" and that he didn't "deserve to play the game". And if anyone earned the right to sound off on integrity, it's Joe Theismann (aka LT's best contribution to the game).
Obviously Joe Theismann's a man of high moral fiber and integrity. Why else would he have changed the pronunciation of his name from THEES-MAN (rhymes with trees man) to the current pronunciation his senior year at Notre Dame? Obviously it was a tribute to his Father and the prior generations of Theismannns. I'm sure those prior generations of Theismanns could only daydream and wonder aloud about such a thing. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the new pronunciation rhyming with a coveted college football award, or the fact it happened to be a better fit at a Catholic school.
That's right Joe, go get 'em! That evil Ricky Williams should be imprisoned for doing such things as smoking wacky tobaccee, wanting to travel the world, be an independent person, and not wanting to play football. How dare he! Thank God you're here to remind us of rights and wrongs, and lead by example.
Known very well to friend and foe as "pehawk" in our fan forums, Ryan Davis will be providing a fresh voice on the Seahawks, Seattle sports in general, and life in a nutshell. Feel free to send your thoughts, recriminations and mule sniffs to Ryan here.