Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
I do not sit in a suite, press box or club seats. I sit in section 343, row “T” to be exact. I do not get sideline passes or attend press conferences. I am one of you, or more accurately… one of US. While I don’t have the chance to interview players in locker rooms or ask questions in a press conference I do have the opportunity to write this piece and I want to relate to you what it was like and what it meant to be at CenturyLink Field as the Seahawks played the 49ers, Sunday September 15th 2013.
I have been waiting for this game from the moment the schedule was released. This was before training camp or the attempt at the world record for the loudest stadium, was thought of. This was the first home game, it was against the 49ers and I was ready to leave for the stadium…in April. As the game drew closer the Hawks won in Carolina, and the minute by minute countdown started, I don’t think I slept from Wednesday on. I couldn’t get enough of NFL Network, Fansided, sports radio, ESPN or even just talking Hawks with my friends and neighbors.
I woke up Sunday morning at 4:30 and paced around until 6, when NFL coverage started being aired. By 9:30 my fellow record breaker and all around cool chick, my 12-year old daughter (and fellow Ginger), was also fidgety. We left the house heading toward Seattle at 12:15, it’s an about a 1 ½ hour drive. I was clad in my home Earl Thomas (choosing to forego my personalized #12 for the first time since 2006) and the kid was in her freshly minted Russell Wilson…like she’d wear anything else. On the way to the stadium I explained decibels and the finer art of screaming and then cautioned her not to scream like a girl. Her response was: “are you sure about that“? I retracted my instruction.
We got to the stadium about 2 and started walking through the alley behind Safeco field, tailgate alley, on our way to the Clink. I have only seen the 12th man that excited one other time, the 2005 NFC Championship game, and if you could harness the energy from that alley you could have powered Seattle for a week. We walked over to the Triangle Bar to see some friends…side note: if you have never pre-funked at the Triangle you are missing out on a great 12th man experience. We stopped in front of the pro-shop and hit the food trucks (another PHENOMENAL stadium experience) she had a lamb gyro and I went for street tacos.
The stadium crew did a great job as lines were short and quick. We made our way to our seats and the excitement was…a physical thing. I could see it. Hear it, feel it and taste it. I wasn’t the only one, after about 30 seconds my daughter simply said…wow. Several 49er fans made their way up the steps and were “boo’d” loudly but no more that that. The introductions ended with that little Q.B. out of N.C State-MLB-Wisconsin and we rolled right into the 12th man flag raising by Shaun Alexander. I thought he received an awesome response and it was a great job by the team to extend the invitation for him to do it. Whatever happened at the end of his career, he was a great Seahawk.
To be honest a lot of the game itself is actually a blur, aside from a few plays most of the analysis I would give you would come from watching the replay. The few things that stood out to me were: Colin Kaepernick looked flustered as soon as he walked out on the field. The defense seemed to gain… arrogance as the game went on, the offense soon followed. This was never more apparent than Marshawn Lynch scoring a touchdown while staring the 49er bench. Richard Sherman’s interception was the result of him baiting Kaepernick into making that throw. Sherman hung back from a streaking Davis until the throw was made and then jogged up, literally jogged up, to make the pick.
I received a tweet that we had fallen just short of the record during the first quarter and then the wifi/3G/4G at CenturyLink became sketchy at best. When the game was no longer in doubt the murmurs started through the 12th Man asking if anyone knew the world record attempt results. Slowly but surely fans got onto the internet and found the answer: We did it. The 12th man broke the record for the loudest crowd noise. I wondered how I would honestly feel about it, would I feel like “oh…cool” or would I take pride in the fact that we broke the record. The tear that slid down my cheek answered the question for me.
I have been a Seattle Seahawks fan since 1985, I missed the awesome 1983 and 1984 seasons and instead I got the 8-8 AFC West crown in 1988 and then I got the Behring Years or “The Lost Decade”. I have been ridiculed and laughed at for touting that “ I am the 12th man” and that we would have our day. I have 2 daughters that have grown up in a house that flies the 12th man flag and actually sits on “Seahawks Way”. Paul Allen and Mike Holmgren got us to Superbowl XL…(sigh) and then we seemingly faded back into obscurity. Finally, we are in 2013, the Seattle Seahawks can’t be ignored and especially after the game against the 49ers on 9-15-2013 (the 11 year anniversary of the first regular season game in the new stadium and coach Carroll’s 62nd birthday)…neither can the 12th Man.
While I’m sure that the Guinness folks will be getting more applications from more fan bases in the coming years, for now no one can talk any smack about the sports fans in Seattle. Specifically no one can talk smack about US, the 12th Man. We not only showed AGAIN that we are the loudest fan base in the NFL, we now have documented proof the we are the loudest fans …IN… THE… WORLD!
We are in the Guinness Book of World Records 12th Man, let that sink in. Also, when I say us I do mean all of US. This is for EVERY member of the 12th Man not just those at the stadium last Sunday. It is for those at home, out of state or out of country. It is for that Father or Mother, Uncle, Brother or best friend who first taught us about the game. It is for John Nordstrom who first brought the team to Seattle way back in 1976 and it is for the Kingdome who first gave us our voice. We’ve paid our dues and it’s time to take our place among the elite fan bases of the NFL. However, we’ve got seven more regular season home games and the next one is this Sunday. Rest your voice and show up at the Clink ready to work. We are World Record holders and we have standards to uphold.