I’ve gotten a fair number of emails from readers of The Pour Fool, asking about the Seattle Seahawks. It’s not hard to tell that I’m proud of my city (the freakin’ Space Needle is on my home page, after all.) but what may not be that clear is that your Faithful Fool is a rabid sports fan and always have been. I’ll be brief with this (quit snickering) because I’m now using this space for something which it was never designed to do but I wanted to answer emails like this…
“I don’t get this 12th Man thing and I know you’re a Seattle guy (the only one I know!) and thought maybe you could explain it to me. Every team in every sport has fans. Not every team seems as obsessed with them as the Seahawks do. Is your stadium really that loud? Are the fans all that crazy? Because all this is almost exactly the opposite of what most of us think about Seattle…” Erica815TX
All of the 75 (or so) emails I’ve gotten about the Seahawks run something like this. And it’s quite understandable. I grew up in the mountains of Virginia; a place where nobody really has a definite NFL loyalty, so I adopted the Bears just because I liked Gale Sayers. Later, after moving to DC, I gradually was won over by the Redskins. After leaving DC, in 1973, I sorta forgot about the NFL and recaptured my life-long love for college football and the Tennessee Vols. Since moving here in 1992, I SLOWLY became a fan of the Seahawks and have had season tickets since 2003. And I don’t really understand it either, even though I am so thoroughly a 12 that I practically bleed neon green.
The 12th Man is like nothing in my experience. It’s a community; a very real and tangible family. It’s one of those things in Life which, if you understand it, no explanation is necessary…and if you don’t, no explanation is really possible.
But I stumbled upon a wonderful video on FaceBook, today, which comes as close as anything ever will to serving as a primer on what this unique and quasi-mystical Thang is that we share here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m not embarrassed to say that I cried while watching this, just as I do when I see Edgar Martinez’s double to close out the 1995 ALDS against the hated Yankees or when Gary Payton or Shawn Kemp or Paul Allen raised the 12th Man flag…or both times, walking out of the stadium, knowing that the Seahawks were going to the Super Bowl.
And, needless to say, last February, after the Super Bowl.
Many people see only Richard Sherman’s rant when they think of the Seahawks, just as they see only Johnny Manziel’s antics and not his heart. The Seahawks we know here are relentless students of the game and even more relentless doers of genuine good within not only this community but within all the places they call home, from Pete Carroll’s “A Better LA” (which is still very much alive) to Marshawn Lynch’s “First Family” Oakland football camp for disadvantaged kids. None of them are particularly boastful except Sherman…who has lots of reasons to be. The Assassin, Kam Chancellor, is so soft-spoken that local broadcasters literally have to boost the volume when they air his interviews. And NOBODY – Sherman included – is saying, “We’re going to the Super Bowl and nobody can stop us!” What they talk about is Work and their system and their teammates, and working to get better…working to get back to that pinnacle.
That’s why we bond so hard with this team: because They are Us. They are what Seattle is all about: people working and cooperating and, yeah, occasionally disagreeing loudly…as families do. We feed off each other. And NOTHING, in any sport, anywhere, that I have experienced in my shockingly long life, is anything like being at CenturyLink Field during a game. It is literally a mystical experience.
Support YOUR team. Get involved. It’s one of those irreplaceable parts of being solidified and unified as a community that usually only happens during tragedies. People in jerseys, here, are Friends, and even I (against all odds) am nicer and more open to other 12s. It’s special and, if you watch that video, you get a huge, uncut, untouristy dose of what the word “Seattle” really means. Thanks for indulging me in this and, for those who wrote and asked, thank you for the questions. I hope this answers them…