In the preface to his seminal work, Cedric J. Robinson writes that “[t]he shared past is precious, not for itself, but because it is the basis of consciousness, of knowing, of being”.
This is so significant that it deserves its own paragraph; because, when we think about identity, we cannot and should not mean Pete-Carroll-ball, a bullying war of attrition, or even the anarchic style of play that made the Seahawks famous and hated. No, what we must take away from this premise is that identity is precisely about that shared history: a secret wisdom, a perception of self so staggering in its profundity that it alights the sky with as much brilliance as Batman’s logo on a Gotham fogbank.
For me, thinking about how the Seahawks identity can be found in that hidden and shared history, brings to mind a balmy New Years eve afternoon in 2017. Down by 7, after the Seahawks‘ previously stout defense surrendered a touchdown to a bunch of what’re-their-faces backups, bookended by a TD pass to Jaron Brown (Pete Carroll winks knowingly at the time, predicting his acquisition in FA). Tyler Lockett, as he is often wont to do, took a kickoff from his own endzone and started running. Clearly, his injury was still on his mind; he had broken his leg, after all, one year and one week before, against the same Cardinals. Running with the devotion of a cartoon character being pursued by dynamite, Lockett scampered past every defender in sight, plowing 99 years into the Cardinals endzone.
But there it got interesting. Lockett immediately dropped to a reclining position, body propped up on one elbow, hand pantomiming a remote control. Then, in a fit of groupthink that would make the most rational of fans suspect the Seahawks of some kind of mass delusion, the rest of them sprinted to his side, in order to drop down with him! What were those madmen thinking?
They were thinking, of course, about that quintessence of identity: a shared history. Few are those who would recall, at that precise moment, that our beloved No-E once recounted, in an interview, that he had spent much of the beginning of his injury doomed to watching Netflix. His celebration in the endzone was thus a repudiation: a mocking of the injury that forced him to do something hateful by choosing to do that same thing, but only after doing its opposite. No-E was telling his injury to kindly fuck off.
But what is crucial for us to know is this: the identity of the whole team, at that moment, was a sharing of Lockett’s joy – a celebration of a secret and joyful sense of being themselves.
I thus submit that there can be no greater understanding of a football team than the stories it tells about itself when celebrating touchdowns. See, also, for example, Russell Wilson’s gift of the most Tasteful Profanity of them all. While we have no idea what will be in store for the Seahawks during the next 14 weeks of professional football, we can tell this story of identity in seven celebrations, a prequel to future endeavors.
1. We Finally Have a TE That Doesn’t Suck
At celebrating. What do you think I am, a monster?
But seriously, if I could choose to take away 10 TDs from the 2017 Seahawks in order to not have to watch some of the most painfully banal celebrations in Seahawks history, I’d be tempted. Jimmy Graham’s TD celebrations were like if you gave a 5 year old the power of invisibility and he wasted it on tripping people all day. He was pretending to be a goddamned airplane. When watching him celebrate, I kept hoping he’d accidentally knock himself unconscious, or that he’d give the ball to Luke Willson so that we could witness an actually good celebration. Thank God we don’t have to deal with that posturing, feckless trader anymore. (Editor’s Note: I will not stand for this personal attack!)
In Will Dissly, we have an unknown. It’s unlikely that he will be as consistently good as he has been so far, and he may well end up being our RT of the future. But we do know one thing: he can throw shade. In what I believe was his first live interview as a professional footballer, Dissly basically lambasted the entirety of Jimmy Graham’s existence when he stated, straight-faced and perhaps even in ignorance of the insolence of his claim, that “you should be able to … catch a pass. It’s not hard”. This is reflected in his celebration: he simply throws the ball way, uncaring, and then hugs some dudes. Celebrating, apparently, also isn’t hard, which makes one wonder why Jimmy Graham was so terrible at it.
Seriously, I’m surprised the Seahawks didn’t pay the Packers $10M APY just to forfeit any future lame faux-aviational twitchings, while the rest of the team hung around, pretending to find something inviting about it.
2. The Return of a New (Old) Hope
When the Seahawks FO was forced to waive Wilson’s favorite big-bodied receiving threat because of a crowded WR corps – that’s Tanner McEvoy, of course – we had to know that the unlikely return of Brandon Marshall had just become very possible. This play cemented it.
Down 7 in the 3rd quarter, RW not only lobs a pass reminiscent of his 2015 cheat-code-mode, but has the audacity to call it out beforehand; at the 6:06 mark, he actually points Marshall’s way, telegraphing to Marshall the will to be better. Or perhaps he cast a spell on the defender, because Roby’s hands start doing some weird things as Marshall watches the pass drop into his arms, eyes tracing that beautiful trajectory for every perfect moment of its existence. I’d say Marshall was like a new father cradling a baby, but then he spikes that baby real hard, so the analogy isn’t a good one.
I’m aware that I’m mixing metaphors and puns in the appellation of this one, but it fits: while Marshall’s spike is unoriginal, his screaming afterwards is poignant, and goes to show that older vets can be hungry, too. Marshall’s time in camp was treated by many fans as an afterthought, a compound by which to test the ardor of the many rookies and younger guys who were seriously competing for spots three through six. He was unheralded and forgotten by a league that, perhaps rightly, values upside over experience. But you must have had the feeling that Marshall’s return wouldn’t really be a return until he did something, and so he screamed, in defiance of obscurity.
Looking from the future, we know that drops will continue to be a problem for Marshall, and so we should all be wary of his continued use as Wilson’s safety blanket on 3rd down attempts (long filled so ably by ADB). But if Marshall can match at least half of Jimmy Graham’s red zone production, the Seahawks could manage to make it to league average in RZ-success, even in spite of Schotty being Schotty.
3. The Metamorphosis of No-E
In the first season in which he has been fully healthy since suffering a devastating fracture in his sophomore campaign, Lockett has clearly learned something from his injury: that at any point in time during which the ball is making its way to him, there are at least 11 larger men trying to murder him. Now of course we know that No-E is fast, and we suspect that he’s also a good route runner, with the upside of being great, but only in this season has it become abundantly clear that his prowess is really one of avoidance: he’s not trying to be good so much as he’s just trying to avoid being disintegrated, an Avenger bearing the last Infinity Stone.
Lockett has caught a touchdown pass in each of the three games, and while each of those plays have a common theme, his celebrations show a becoming. On the first play – and here know that I haven’t seen the All-22 – it looks like he blows past the initial coverage, and the CB on his route gives it up to the high safety, such that he’s wide open, and Russell Wilson throws it damn-near perfectly. To be candid, No-E’s celebration here is surprising: he gives the ball away and points skyward; it’s almost as if he doesn’t trust what just happened, and it isn’t what one would expect from someone scoring his first TD of a new season. The second play is an elevation: watch closely as Lockett, not a large guy mind you, muscles past the CB on coverage to get in front of Wilson’s pass, which is this time actually perfect. As soon as he comes down with it, his arms shoot wide; he knows he’s earned this one, and the narrative of he and Wilson making each other look good is back.
But it’s the third catch that really tells us who No-E is to this team. If the first one is a sign of doubt, a breach of faith, and the second one is an awakening, then the third one is an ascension. I’m not sure if the All-22 for this play has dropped yet, but you’d be wise to be skeptical of what it shows. For I have it on good authority that Doug Baldwin, fearing for the welfare of his team, bequeathed his powers of teleportation to Tyler; what appears to be an instance of blown coverage is in fact a human reaction to Lockett simply disappearing, and then reappearing 5 yards downfield. You can’t defend that, and he knows it. Drunk with the power, his transformation is complete. Where ADB has always been a bird of prey, No-E has become a bird of peace. That’s right, Tyler is the dove to Doug’s raptor; the third miracle of the Seahawks‘ own Trinity; the holy spirit that intoxicates the faithful. No-E’s celebration is full of religiosity. After a scampering and a striking of his arms, a snapping of those chains that rooted him to the sub-lunar, he kind of spasms around, while those near him, suffused with that unbearable grace, are reduced to the language of lunatics.
I live in a neighborhood with a lot of wild rabbits, and you only see them in the first hour after dawn, fleeting. This is what Lockett will, or already has, become; he who runs like an enraged wind, with all the power of a wiffle bat. Except that the bat is being swung by titans.
4. The Anti-Celebration
Down by 14 in a truly awful game, Dissly slips beneath zone coverage, and catches an easy one. He spikes it, and everyone groans. Marshall, ever helpful, approaches the rookie, reproaching: “dude, not here, not now”.
For those readers who aren’t part of the #youthcrew on here, this the-more-you-know encounter was reminiscent of the teaching moments that followed episodes of G.I. Joe cartoons; like them, it tells us nothing, really.
5. The New Kid
Jaron Brown’s route brings to mind an archetype: imagine a new student, who, invited to a party as an act of pity, shows up, and says something that is, shockingly, really funny. (Do you know anyone who fits that? This could use more humor.) Cast suddenly and accidentally into a spotlight of hilarity, the new kid is paralyzed by an unexpected terror: don’t fuck this up!
There’s a pivotal scene in the first season of The OC: the new kid (and please don’t ask me to look this up; none of their names matter, okay?), faced by an onslaught of three or four attackers, is cast down on a beach. The ringleader, scorning, looks down on his fallen opponent, and pronounces, with his arms half-raised, forming two parabolic curves of condescension: “Welcome to the OC, bitch!”
The celebratory gesture made by Jaron Brown is identical. He’s essentially welcoming himself to Seattle. Or welcoming the Cowboys to Seattle. But Seattle doesn’t have many beaches, and we tend to frown on gendered insults, so this is better than that.
What the scene misses is that the new kid and the aggressor end up becoming good friends; in a provocative conversation towards the end of the season, the latter contemplates to the former, hypothetically, how someone in the place to which he’ll soon be moving may welcome him to that locale in precisely the same manner. Jaron Brown is thus both, a wormhole integrating the two moments through time: simultaneously the welcomed, inquisitive about why people fight on beaches, with such uneven surfaces, and the aggressor, owning his dominance, a laughter full of iniquity, daring anyone to fight back.
6. Wait, I Thought the New Rules Disallowed RB RZ TDs?
More like Chris Larceny, cause that guy is a thief.
The thief casting works here, for two reasons. First, despite the ballyhooing of the running enthusiasts – whose nonsense is tiresome, for which reason in my imagination they look and sound like British colonial game-hunters, as knowledgeable about running as those gamehunters were about game or hunting (not much; those racists were only knowledgeable about how to use like seven different kinds of forks) – the Seahawks rushing attack is not very good. What is meant when claims like this are made is simple: running backs don’t much matter. The evidence suggests that rushing success on average owes much more to run blocking than it does to the one doing the running; viz., a really good back can maybe eke 2 or 3 yards out of a blown play with any degree of consistency, whereas an average back can easily manage 5 or so yards on a well-blocked play.
But it turns out that the one instance in which running backs can matter is when they do. Carson is a thief because he’s literally stealing yards. Whether by ground or air, Carson seems to consistently get more out of running plays than what is blocked for him. Not every time, of course, but enough to matter. (To the eye, not to EPA.)
Like any good thief, Carson’s celebration is concealed. A few simple pumpings of a duopoly of fists – he’s banging on an imaginary drum, a prophet of future victory. In fact, his talent is such a sneak attack that a bunch of the OLinemen swarm him after his run, picking him up, forcibly preventing him from revealing any further surprise.
The second reason the casting works is that, in lieu of a celebration, he should’ve stolen the nearest camera and panned to Pete Carroll, who was probably sobbing tears of joy.
7. A Hero (is Re-Born)
At some point, I imagine the reader has begun to be sceptical of my accounting. If there are seven stories, and all of No-E’s teeders were counted as one, then seven is too many. Of course, not every celebration needs to be of a touchdown. Indeed, the identity of the Seahawks has for so long been rooted in its inviolate defense, that perhaps the most honest celebration is of a touchdown prevented.
I could sing thousands of words of Seattle’s favorite transplant from the ruined planet of Krypton, so instead I submit a picture of our Superman, resplendent in his glory, destroyer of quarterbacks, his eyes a scourge powered with the fury of a thousand suns, a menacing intensity that conceals a supreme knowing of the hearts of those lesser men he faces, daring them to try for he knows they will fail:
To which there is only one proper response, in like kind: