When we moved to Seattle from the Washington, D.C., area 18 months ago, I had only vaguely heard of Russell Wilson, didn’t know the 12th Man from The Ten Commandments, couldn’t even tell you the name of the stadium where the Seahawks played. I could not imagine ever becoming a Seahawks die-hard.
Don’t get me wrong; I have always been a huge sports fan. I love basketball, especially my hometown Portland Trail Blazers. I was just a year old in 1977 when the Blazers won their lone NBA championship. According to family folklore, my first two-word utterance was “Rip City.” I look forward to March Madness and am equally enamored by both the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. I’ve traveled to several Major League Baseball stadiums around the country (majestic Camden Yards in Baltimore probably being my favorite). I am starting to appreciate the nuances and pure beauty of soccer.
But the NFL … the culture … it’s so misogynistic. So brutal. So commercial.
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I initially resisted Seahawks fandom for another reason. You see, my husband is an assistant sports editor at The Seattle Times and the on-site editor at Seahawks games. While I have a traditional work week, he works mostly evenings and weekends, aligning his schedule with college and professional sports events. On Saturday mornings when we should be shifting down, eating a lazy pancake breakfast and planning our weekend together, he is getting ready for his busiest work days, leaving me behind to manage the house and our children by myself. It is a small miracle that we are 13 years into a very happy and fulfilling marriage.
Last football season, I slogged through the damp, dark autumn weekends alone with my kids (the oldest, by the way, who is severely autistic with constant needs). I vaguely understood the team was winning, but stubbornly refused to watch televised games. The excitement in the city, however, seemed to build each week. Every Monday morning, more and more kids showed up at the school playground clad in blue and green, and every week more and more 12th Man flags popped up in our Green Lake neighborhood. My husband and his colleagues began frantically compiling a Seattle Times book about the Seahawks’ season in anticipation of a possible Super Bowl appearance.
By the time the playoffs rolled around, the city was in full football frenzy mode, and I was curious. I tuned in for the NFC title game and the infamous Richard Sherman postgame interview. Two weeks later, I took my kids to watch the first half of the Super Bowl in The Seattle Times newsroom. The newsroom was decked out in Seahawks blue and green, and there was an impressive spread of food in the conference room. But it was hardly a party atmosphere. Everyone in the room was focused on producing the best possible print and online coverage for that momentous day in Seattle.
It was fun to experience the explosion of excitement in the city that followed the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory. And inspiring to see how the team brought people throughout the city together. Yet it still would have been disingenuous to call myself a Hawks fan.
The moment I earned my 12th Man badge? The final overtime drive during this season’s Week 3 game versus the Broncos, for sure. Watching the methodical precision of Wilson and crew marching down the field for the final touchdown left me in complete awe of the explosive athleticism, collective focus and unrelenting discipline within this team. I felt like I had just watched a perfectly executed artistic stage production rather than a game between brutish thugs. I finally understood what the rest of Seattle already knew about the Hawks. They became my team.
I was glued to the recent Seahawks-Raiders game. Marshawn Lynch had just Beast-Moded his way through the entire Raiders defense to score the team’s first touchdown. I looked up at the clock and realized it was time to leave for my youngest son’s soccer game at Green Lake Park. The sound of rain falling outside competed with the rumbling of the television in my living room. My 12th Man kicked in.
“Hey, Asher,” I announced. “Just got an email from your coach. Game canceled on account of the rain. Sorry, Bud.”
“Nice try, Mom.” There was no fooling this PNW kid. “Games don’t get canceled in Seattle just because of some rain.”
So off we went to the soccer game, decked in full Seahawks rain gear, cellphone tuned in to a live broadcast of the game, and a silent prayer whispered to the NFL gods that we make it home by the fourth quarter so I could help cheer my team to victory.
After 11 years of East Coast living, Jen Guzman happily traded in her pretentious high heels and DC commute for rain boots and a bike. She lives near Green Lake with her journalist husband and two sons. She runs around the lake most days, but has only fallen in the lake once. Jen owns and operates a small company that provides technology-related classes to Seattle-area schools and homeschooling programs.
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