Tag Archives: Lofa Tatupu

Making Memories: An NFC Championship Commentary

15 Jan

*On Sunday the Seahawks will host the NFC Championship Game for the second time in franchise history as a part of what I have dubbed “Hate Week Part III” with the San Francisco 49ers. I was in attendance at the first NFC Championship Game in 2006 and I am hoping that this week’s game against the 49ers will be just as, if not more special than the first*

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This was the scene on January 22nd, 2006 as the Seahawks ran out of the tunnel before the 2005 NFC Championship Game.

Pictures sure do say a thousand words, don’t they? 67,000 fans screaming at ear-damaging decibel levels while waving their white rally towels; one of the most amazing sights these eyes have ever seen and been a part of.

This Sunday the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship Game in what I believe is the biggest home game in Seahawks history; even bigger than the 2005 NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.

Pick any Seahawks home game over the past 8 years and I could tell you some detail or memory about it. Every Seahawks game I attend becomes a collection of memories. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, yet every single game I have ever attended is its own unique story.

I can still distinctly remember that cloudy January day in 2006. Sports Radio 950 KJR had done a live broadcast from a pioneer square bar overnight leading all the way up to game time. I had turned the radio on in my room and at a very soft volume and I subconsciously listened to the entire overnight portion of the pregame show while I attempted to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I immediately got dressed into my gameday attire, my 2005 NFC West Champions hat, and my blue Matt Hasselbeck jersey over my white Seahawks sweatshirt. My friend Alan and I headed into downtown where after waiting for at a table at the waterfront Red Robin, we decided to instead walk down to Ivar’s for a fish n’ chips pregame meal. Following lunch we decided to head straight into the stadium and we hung out at our seats in section 302 for two hours as we watched the entire stadium fill up before the Seahawks even concluded on-field warm-ups about 25 minutes before kickoff. I was amazed how full and crazed the stadium was that early. Everybody was at their seats with plenty of time to spare and the mood was utter excitement and confidence, as if there was no doubt that we were going to walk off the field as the 2005 NFC Champions. Following the most beautiful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” I had ever heard (performed by the beautiful and talented Carrie Underwood) Alan and I briefly sat down just before kickoff. We knew we had to charge up our lower bodies as we did not sit down for the duration of the game; a feat that has not been repeated in the 82 preseason, regular season, and postseason games I have attended since. Just before kickoff Seahawks owner Paul Allen raised the 12th Man flag; the most epic sports moment I have ever been a part of.

The game went just as everyone in attendance hoped it would. Jerramy Stevens caught a touchdown pass to make the score 7-0 Seahawks and following a Lofa Tatupu interception later in the first quarter, the Seahawks had taken control of the game for good. Starting at this point the 12th Man started several “Super Bowl” chants following every score and timeout. 2 Josh Brown field goals, a Darrell Jackson touchdown catch and two touchdown runs by league MVP Shaun Alexander cemented a 34-14 win as the Seahawks punched their ticket to Super Bowl XL.

An extended postgame fireworks celebration and large quantities of blue and green confetti bathed the entire stadium as the Seahawks and the 12th Man entered full party mode. By the time the clock hit :00 no one had left the stadium and quite frankly no one wanted to. The 12th Man wanted to soak in the greatest moment in the history of Seahawks football for as long as they could. A stage was wheeled to mid-field as Terry Bradshaw of FOX presented Paul Allen, coach Mike Holmgren, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander with the George Halas memorial trophy, emblematic of the champions of the National Football Conference. At the end of ceremony Alexander took the trophy on a victory lap around the stadium to “show everybody” as Terry Bradshaw advised him to do. After the Seahawks left the field and headed back into the locker room Alan and I headed for the gates to head home. My friends are amazed at the selective memory I have for every Seahawks game I have ever attended but I can say with full confidence that there is no game I can remember more clearly than the 2005 NFC Championship Game.

I will be taking my Dad to this year’s NFC Championship game; an event that I am sure will be made a memory for him and me to bond over for years to come. Needless to say this will be a very special moment between the two of us, made even more special since he will not be going to New York with me to attend Super Bowl XLVIII should the Seahawks win this week. I am very excited for him to experience everything an event like the NFC Championship Game has to offer.

When we beat Carolina to get to Super Bowl XL no Seahawks fan went out of their way to make fun of or insult any Panthers fan in attendance, or to make them feel any worse that their team did not make it to the Super Bowl. I realize that our ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII will come at the expense of the one team Seahawks fans hate the most but my ultimate hope is that the same celebratory actions from 2005 repeat themselves this week. I know it would be the sweetest feeling in the world to beat the 49ers to get to the Super Bowl but that should not mean that the 12th Man should go out of their way to emotionally pummel any 49ers fans in attendance. Simply put, this is OUR moment to shine. Do not make it about them. This game and this potential victory should be made all about US by US. If we win, celebrate the win as a Seahawks victory, not a Seahawks victory AND a 49ers loss. make sure to also revel in the amazing scene that will take place following the game. This is an experience that every sports fan dreams of. To everyone lucky enough to attend the 2013 NFC Championship Game, savor every moment and even the smallest little details of your gameday experience because I promise you this will be an event that you will never forget

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Hawk Notes 8/20: Ruud Traded, Remembering George Hickman

20 Aug

Not a whole lot going on down in Renton today. There were a couple of big things off the field however.

Tonight the Seahawks traded linebacker Barrett Ruud to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a future draft pick. This move all but solidifies rookie Bobby Wagner as our starting middle linebacker this season. Congratulations to Bobby, as he will become the first rookie middle linebacker to start for the Seahawks since Lofa Tatupu in 2005, who wound up a candidate for defensive rookie of the year. Wagner has looked really good during the preseason and in my opinion he has shown that he is capable of making the defensive calls. The trading of Ruud is somewhat surprising but understandable given the Saints linebacker corps lost Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne to injuries this past week. With Lofton and Hawthorne’s statuses up in the air, Ruud may be in a position to start for New Orleans in week 1. It has not been announced what the Seahawks will receive in return but it is believed to be a draft pick most likely in 2013.

Sad news both in Seattle and around the country today as Tuskegee Airman and Seattle resident George Hickman passed away Sunday morning at the age of 88. Hickman served in World War II from 1943-1945 and was one of the first African-Americans to fly and serve in war. The reason I mention this news is Hickman’s connection to the Seahawks and the rest of the Seattle sports community. Hickman raised the 12th Man flag on Veterans appreciation day last season before the Seahawks defeated the Baltimore Ravens. Hickman served as a seating host for the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field and was also an usher at Alaska Airlines Arena for University of Washington Husky basketball games. Hickman was a passionate sports fan and connected with fans young and old at all kinds of Seattle sporting events. He will be missed by many, including this 12th Man who greatly appreciates everything George Hickman did for not only this city but for this entire country.

Tomorrow morning the Seahawks have a practice at 10:15 as they begin prep for the ever important third preseason game against Kansas City on Friday night.

On the Eve of Training Camp

27 Jul

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My apologies for the 3 month hiatus. I am back for good, I promise!

Day one of season 37 starts tomorrow morning when the Seahawks conduct their first training camp practice of 2012. Tomorrow is day one of a very long and grueling journey. A journey that is as unpredictable as guessing how many jelly beans are in the jar. A journey that will be written based on what is left on that beautiful green grass field. The offseason is history. The 2012 season is upon us and I cannot be more excited.

Tomorrow’s open practice starts at 10:30 tomorrow morning. Because it is the first day, I am definitely expecting some rust from many of our key players, but I will also be expecting to see new plays and formations that were installed during OTA’s and minicamp. Here are some players, and position battles that I will be focusing on for the first day of training camp.

1. Quarterback Competition

Tarvaris Jackson is expected to take most, if not all of the first team snaps at quarterback. Matt Flynn will take the second-string snaps and Russell Wilson will take the third-team snaps. With Jackson as the experienced vet in this offense, I expect him to prove early that he deserves to be the starter. If he does not do this, the 12th Man will be calling for Flynn to take over this competition. I believe it will be Jackson’s job to lose. With Jackson as the pre-camp frontrunner, Flynn as the $8 million man and fan favorite, and Wilson the potential-filled fast-learning rookie, Coach Carroll and his staff have a lot of work to do to settle this competition.

2. Right Tackle

With James Carpenter still rehabbing his ACL injury from last season, the starting right tackle spot is up for grabs in my opinion. I believe Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan are the players looking to earn a starting spot on the offensive line. This spot is important because it will be necessary to develop continuity among the starting unit early, as this will improve the play of the entire offense later down the road.

3. Middle Linebacker

Rookie Bobby Wagner looks to be the starting MLB come week 1, but veteran Barrett Ruud will be challenging for a roster spot and a spot as our starting middle linebacker. Ruud is coming off an injury and Wagner was a 2nd round draft pick this year. The last time a rookie started at middle linebacker for the Seahawks was Lofa Tatupu in 2005. Tatupu was also a 2nd round pick. Not to put pressure on Wagner, but if he lands the starting job, the pressure is on to tie the defense together, which is one of many responsibilities required of a middle linebacker.

4. Bruce Irvin

I am interested to see where rookie Bruce Irvin will line up in different packages. Irvin has been described as a defensive end/linebacker hybrid. With Chris Clemons and Red Bryant as our starting defensive ends and Leroy Hill and K.J. Wright as our starting outside linebackers, Irvin’s presence on the field will shift with each defensive play. My hope is to see where he mostly lines up and from which spots he is most effective at getting to the quarterback.

I will be attendance at practice tomorrow morning. Check back tomorrow night for my notes and observations of day one of Seahawks training camp!

Should the Seahawks consider bringing back Lofa Tatupu?

4 Mar

With David Hawthorne becoming an unrestricted free agent and Leroy Hill being arrested on counts of marijuana possession, the Seahawks linebacker corps looks like the biggest question mark heading into the 2012 offseason. Because of this, the Seahawks may be interested in bringing back Lofa Tatupu, who was the staple of their defense from 2005-2010.

As you may remember, Tatupu was cut before the 2011 season for refusing to take a pay cut. Although he was looked at as an option by multiple teams after his release, he spent the entire 2011 season at home. Many people including myself believe this is because his demands money and contract wise were too much for any potential suitor. Tatupu is only 29-years-old and I believe he still has the fire to be a force in the NFL, if he can stay healthy.

I believe the Seahawks should take a good long look at Tatupu this offseason, especially if we are unable to retain Hawthorne and/or Hill. After sitting at home, Tatupu may now understand he is not worth what he originally thought and he would be willing to accept a reduced salary. Tatupu also brings excellent veteran leadership and is already familiar with Coach Gus Bradley’s defensive system.

There are a couple of red flags however, primarily his inability to stay healthy. Between 2008 and 2009, Tatupu missed 12 games due to injury and when he returned, many fans including myself could tell his play had declined. Tatupu was also arrested in 2008 for DUI.

I believe we should definitely take a look at Tatupu and seriously consider bringing him back. I don’t expect him to be the three-time Pro Bowler he was early in his career and I don’t think he would even be a starter with the Seahawks, but if we lose Hawthorne and Hill, there is no doubt we will need linebacker depth, and who better to bring in then a guy who knows the system, is a great leader on and off the field, and a guy who after signing a contract extension in 2008, stated “I’m going to end my career with the Seahawks?”