The Lesser of Two Evils

You can finally pull your head out. Of a sack, that is, and proudly announce to the world that you are a football fan from Seattleā€”a civic-minded wonderland where the same number of people voted in the primary election as attended the Washington-Air Force game.

Prominent football teams from the state of Washington were this close to remaining winless for the first three weeks of September, until the Chicago Bears pulled out a 13-14 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. Losses by the Huskies and Cougars on Saturday had left the Evergreen State 0-6, and many fans were prepared to renounce their citizenship when the losing skid reached double digits.

Thank goodness the Seahawks responded to the repeated exhortations of "It's Now Time" from the coaching staff on the sideline at Soldier Field, thus ending the losing streak and keeping my preseason prediction of nine wins for Team Holmgren right on track for at least another two weeks.

In the season opener, Seahawk players thought they heard the coaches screaming, "It's Nap Time" and fell behind early to the Detroit Lions before rallying just enough to lose 28-20. The nadir of that loss came on a Seattle punt deep in Seahawk territory. Deems May snapped the ball through the Kingdome freight doors and across the parking lot into F.X. McRory's. The snap was so high that punter Jeff Feagles didn't bother to jump for it, thus harking back to the days when Jim McIlvaine wore lead sneakers for the Sonics.

We interrupt this column for bulletin #2 from the holdout front: Emboldened by the Seahawks' lackluster performance on Opening Day, Joey Galloway asked for more money than the more money he asked for initially. Sympathetic panhandlers in Pioneer Square have pledged 10 percent of all net proceeds on Seahawk home games to allow Joey to keep playing flag football at his Ohio home until the Seahawks cave in to his demands. Neighbors report that Galloway was so upset at Seattle's win (which reduced his leverage) that he dropped two potential touchdown passes from his cousin Vera.

While most of his teammates settled for the figurative variety, quarterback Jon Kitna literally stubbed his toe in the Detroit game and was unable to play against the Bears. During the first half at Chicago, replacement QB Glenn Foley stumbled around like a drunk at a fortified wine convention on those few plays in which he received any protection whatsoever. Then the offensive line toughened up, and Foley sobered up in the second half, overcoming multiple drops by receivers in leading the team to a series of historic firsts.

The PR machine is already rolling at breakneck speed after a razor-thin victory over a team predicted to finish in the cellar of the NFC Central. The phenomenal accomplishments being trumpeted so far include: first victory, first victory on grass, first road victory, first road-opener victory, and first come-from-behind victory of the Coach Holmgren Era in Seattle. Here's one they forgot to list: first victory sealed by an opponent's missed field goal.

To be fair, Holmgren brought along more from Green Bay than just a talented coaching staff. Late in August the Seahawks acquired wide receiver Derrick Mayes from the Packers for a seventh-round draft pick. The trade has already paid dividends, with Mayes accounting for almost half of Seattle's passing yards on Sunday and scoring a key touchdown against the Bears.

Sadly, trades are not allowed in college football (yet another example of the World Trade Organization infringing upon American sovereignty). Air Force and BYU showed just how badly the Huskies need an infusion of new talent. Magnifying the problem, athletic director Barbara Hedges made the mistake of not scheduling at least one cupcake opponent for 1999. Even in the National Championship season of 1991, Washington lined up the Toledo Rockets for a whupping. By contrast, this week the highly inspired Colorado Buffaloes will get a chance to thank their former coach for abandoning them.

Even bad teams haven't helped the Cougs this year. After 10 straight losses, including a loss to the lowly Idaho Vandals last Saturday, it's time for WSU students to start thinking about their spring break plans. Wazzu has a get-healthy game scheduled on Oct. 9 against Louisiana-Lafayette (I'm not making this up, though I would if I could think of a funnier name for a football team), and if the Cougs don't win that stinker it could mean a losing streak spanning the millennium.

Unable to turn a 1998 Rose Bowl appearance into any good recruits, Mike Price has only himself to blame for the predicament in the Palouse. The good news is that the Washington State football team won't be close enough to "Coug" any games this year. They'll just be embarrassed a lot, perhaps as much as their alums.

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