The Lesser of Two Evils

WHO CAN BLAME people for being so upset? It's an outrage. Fundamental principles have been violated, deeply held beliefs trampled. The frustration and violence were inevitable. I just hope Seahawk management gets the message that no more losses will be tolerated before there's nothing left in this town to break, burn, or steal.

Last week tens of thousands of demonstrators flew in from around the globe to protest the Seahawks' lack of a consistent running game and defensive shortcomings, then stuck around for the WTO Ministerial Conference. The mood in easygoing Seattle turned downright ugly, though that's to be expected when the Hawks drop back-to-back games for the first time this season after raising expectations to untenable heights.

Heading into Thanksgiving, our gridiron cornucopia was overflowing. A 31-19 victory over Kansas City gave the Seahawks a five-game winning streak (and their first win in K.C. since 1990). It appeared that Coach Mike Holmgren had finally cobbled together a ground game. Ricky Watters ran for two TDs, twice as many as the team had managed in its first nine games. He had 107 yards on 24 carries and caught a TD pass to boot.

Then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came to town on November 28 and prepared us for WTO Week by sacking Jon Kitna and the Seahawks 16-3. The misery continued last Sunday with a 30-21 loss at Oakland. The Seahawks have committed 10 turnovers in the last two weeks, and the running game was back to normal—64 yards for Watters against Tampa Bay and 51 against the Raiders (plus two fumbles lost).

Maybe our boys in blue were just feeling unappreciated. Despite an 8-2 record and a three-game lead in the AFC West after the K.C. win, the Seahawks still couldn't get any recognition in their own hometown. The Tampa Bay game should have been the focal point of everyone's Thanksgiving/Start Shopping Weekend. Instead, the Seahawks took a backseat to other events.

That's because the passion and violence of the NFL can't match the intensity of professional WTO protesters, who took a one-week hiatus from vandalizing animal research laboratories at American universities to confront the new Evil Empire. And why not? Seattle is a beautiful place to pillage. So much glass. So little time.

The WTO Ministerial Conference could be a great learning experience for the Seahawks. For example, Watters might borrow a few nifty moves from certain local politicians who spent their days manning the ramparts with the revolutionaries, screaming "power to the people," and cursing the Man, then changed into evening wear before joining WTO delegates at each night's round of black tie receptions.

It's hard to care as much as we should about sports when there is so much injustice in the world. The watchdog group WTO=BAD has documented a litany of horrifying trade abuses: imported baby carrots sold without warning labels at grocery stores all across America; third-world workers denied ultrasonic massage therapy benefits; multitransinternational corporations doing business in far, far more than a single country (for a profit!).

Decent people can hardly conceive of such wickedness. You'd go crazy if you didn't numb yourself to it. Despite the two-game losing streak, the Seahawks are the best anesthetic we've got right now. They're a band of heartless thugs riding fleets of black helicopters to every corner of the globe, despoiling the ecosystem and terrorizing working people. Oops. That's a page from the WTO's playbook, not the Seahawks'. Sorry.

Seattle's defense needs to behave much more brutally for the team to become as feared as WTO bureaucrats. The Seahawks are sixth best (out of the NFL's 31 teams) in points yielded, but they are ninth worst in yardage allowed. The Oakland game illustrated the weakness of Seattle's bend-but-don't-break defense in crunch time. Late in the fourth quarter the Seahawks desperately needed a stop, but all the defense could stop was a TD after allowing a six-minute drive, and Oakland's final field goal sealed the loss.

But let's concentrate on the good news. As bad as things have been the past two weeks, the reputation of the Seahawks hasn't been trashed as completely as that of the city of Seattle. Long after the giant papier-m⣨頰rotest puppets have been recycled, long after the final human chains have unlinked, football will remain to take our minds off the evils of capitalism and international trade.

With four games left in the regular season, the Seahawks enjoy a one-game lead in the division, a favorable schedule, and mediocre divisional opponents. I therefore remain confident in my prediction that the Seahawks will win the AFC West and march on to the team's first playoff win in 15 years. Then we'll really have a reason to riot.

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