It's 22 degrees in Seattle, but the wind cuts it down to 11. The sun shines, but it’s laughing at you. You’re not going to feel warm today. What’s the best way to keep warm? Packed like a sardine in a crowd of 750,000 roaring 12th men and women, that’s how.
On Feb. 5 I had the honor of attending the Seahawks Super Bowl Victory Parade. In all honesty, I thought that by attending the parade I was special. Daydreaming, I fantasized of being in the ranks of a couple thousand having the honor of shaking Pete Carroll’s hand and having a fly-by conversation with my personal idol Russell Wilson.
Waking up at 6 a.m. and walking across campus for the early morning bus down the Sound, I was instantly proven wrong. Blue and green zombies were everywhere, their hands’ clasping what I could only guess was victory coffee.
When I finally got on the bus, my fantasy was all but gone. With the person next to me staring into a book with painted blue and green eyebrows and the woman behind me alleging that the projected 300,000 people had warranted the need for Seattle to call out the National Guard to keep the peace, I knew that the Emerald City would be packed.
Looking down, coffee in hand, Northwest hip-hop in my ears, I composed a haiku:
Green and Blue Seahawks
Descend upon Seattle
Can it be louder?
Could it be? I would say that it depends on your personal experience of the 12th man loudness. But when we pulled into the city, it was deafening. A legion of blue and green clad 12’s stood in the cold, their solidarity apparent by the rolling call issued by everyone from drunken college students to the elementary school children atop their parents’ shoulders: “SEA!” A call answered by the necessary amen: “HAWKS!”
Stepping in amongst their ranks I remembered how amazing it was to be a part of the 12th man. We may be loud, we may be obnoxious, but altogether we are connected. Fact: when the Hawks play, everyone wearing anything from a Walter Jones jersey to Hawk-shaped earrings is family. That’s a fact reflected throughout my entire day, Russell Wilson jersey against my bare chest, receiving handshakes and high fives from blue and green strangers of all walks of life. How many other fan bases can claim to have such a strong bond?
After a wait that seemed eternal, the parade finally arrived at my location. Like a legion of Romans returning from campaign, the Seattle Seahawks rode down the streets astride steeds of military-grade vehicles. They passed by in youthful vigor with the prize of their conquest, the silver of the Vince Lombardi trophy. A smiling Pete Carroll waved to the crowd. A flag-toting Golden Tate rallied the masses. An excited Russell Wilson led the “Sea-Hawks” chanting crowd. As their gladiators passed by, the crowd turned into a frenzy, tossing skittles in every direction. The drum of war was played by the Beast himself: a cigar and champagne-toting Marshawn Lynch.
When the parade came to an end, a new ceremony kicked-off as Pete, John Schneider, Paul Allen, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson all addressed the masses at CenturyLink Field. The ceremony was broadcast inside Safeco Field, as well as by news stations across the nation. The team, one that was graded as a C+ draft class, held up the greatest trophy in all of football. Their giddiness was evident as Ricardo Lockette and Lynch repeatedly tried to interrupt speakers at the podium.
As I left the stadium Carroll’s words reverberated through my head, “We’re just getting started.” I always knew that this year, and the ones to follow, will be great years to be a 12.