I wouldn't say I missed that game

For the first time in 20 years, my holidays weren't structured around a sports team's schedule, and I've got to admit: It felt really ... weird.

Please accept my belated holiday wishes and my sincerest hope that this new year is one that will be filled with happiness and a renewed hope for the future.

Besides, things are already getting better for the Seahawks, right? They scored 51 points, and sure, it was against Detroit, but this was the same Seahawks team that lost to the Bears the week before, and that game is actually the subject of this newsletter as I begin not just a new year, but a new reality going forward. Thanks for reading, and if you’re inclined to share, I would be grateful.

To say I didn’t spend a minute watching the Seahawks over Christmas weekend would be an exaggeration. I saw the final 61 seconds.

I logged into the Sunday Ticket on Sunday just in time to see Chicago celebrating Damiere Byrd’s ridiculous catch on that two-point conversion that gave the Bears a one-point lead. Then I watched Seattle complete what can only be described as an absolute and utter belly flop, getting flagged for a pair of penalties, failing to convert a single first down and losing at home to a four-win team playing its third-string quarterback.

Of the many things I have to feel thankful for this holiday season, one relatively minor and utterly selfish item is that I did not have to structure my holiday schedule around that debacle. I was able to turn the television off after watching Seattle turn the ball over on downs without wondering how I would discuss, describe or try and contextualize that loss.

It felt … really weird.  For the past 20 years, my life has been piloted around the schedule of the teams that I have covered. For the past 16 years, that has been the Seattle Seahawks. I’m not complaining about this. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend much of that time traveling the country — and occasionally the globe — on someone else’s dime while getting paid to attend games that others pay for the right to watch. Consequently, my life is indexed by the nearby sporting events that serve as personal landmarks.

I proposed to my wife on Dec. 8, 2007 in a room at the Inn at Pike Place, the night before Seattle beat the Arizona Cardinals. She accepted six days later just before I took a red-eye flight to Carolina where Seattle suffered a 13-10 loss to a Panthers team piloted by Matt Moore.

My brother was married in Oct. 30, 2011, which was the day that Seattle hosted Cincinnati, which turned out to be Charlie Whitehurst’s final start in his illustrious Seahawks career, and I do believe Cincinnati’s Pac-Man Jones returned a punt for a touchdown in that game.

My Mom told me she had a tumor in her kidney on Sept. 9, 2015, the Wednesday before Seattle went to St. Louis for a Week 2 game, which Kim Chancellor missed because he was holding out. I was sitting in a small studio off the main media room at the Seahawks headquarters when my Mom called. I went to St. Louis and then traveled to California the next week to take my Mom to the surgery to remove that organ. I came down with shingles in Tampa Bay on Nov. 27, 2016, the day Seattle lost 14-5 to the Bucs.

When I try to remember what year something happened in, I almost always start with who Seattle’s head coach was. My friends Gerald and Erin got married in San Francisco in the weeks leading up John Schneider’s first draft, which means it was April 2010. The last time it snowed during a Seahawks game was when everyone was throwing snowballs in that game against the Jets, which was Mike Holmgren’s final home game as head coach, which means it was 2008. My dog, Tai, suffered kidney failure during the training camp when Jim Mora held two 90-minute practices, one in the morning and the other at night. That makes it 2009.

And even now, after losing my job at the end of August, I’m indexing things by the Seahawks games I’m NOT watching. I was in Vermont when Seattle played Tennessee in Week 2, staying at a cabin that didn’t have television. I saw the score Monday about noon when we stopped for lunch in Troy, N.Y. And on Christmas Eve, I flew to Orange County, Calif., without bringing so much as a laptop and while I can’t say that I didn’t watch the Seahawks for a single minute, it wasn’t much more than that.

This was the first time since 2000 — when I was in the midst of a 47-day strike — that I didn’t have to work over the holiday break, and for now I’ll remember this as the year I stopped covering the Seahawks, and I start this new year wondering what reference points I’ll use going forward.

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