Guesties: Seattle finally stands up for the ‘Hawks

Posted: January 16, 2014 by terryvandrovec in Guesties
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By Ari Boynton 
Guest blogger

I feel no shame in saying that Seattle, my hometown, has the worst fan base in the whole country – more fair-weather backers reside right here in the Emerald City than anywhere else. For good measure, Forbes once called this America’s most miserable sports city.

Take the example of the 2005 Seahawks. The city had been dying for a team that could compete and make a run against the big boys. That year the Hawks achieved an NFC championship and a berth in the big game. Sure, Seattle lost Super Bowl (X)tra (L)arge, but at least it got there. Yet does any Seattle fan today boast of Shaun Alexander’s amazing season? Or the 11-game winning streak in the regular season? What about the playoff victories over Chicago – the first in 22 seasons – and Carolina? The 13-3 record? Nope, no, and never. All the fanatics discuss that season is how the refs “screwed” them out of the Lombardi Trophy.

Seattle has a stadium with a view - and noisy fans.

Seattle has a stadium with a view – and noisy fans.

Oh, what a few years can do for a city and a region. With the Sonics out of town and the Mariners sucking like nobody’s business, the Seahawks fan base – the much discussed 12th man – has turned the city’s winter frown upside down. Although I lived away from Seattle for seven years, I can tell the mood is lighter than it used to be, the food tastes better. Seattleites have a meh attitude towards rain – something I had never witnessed before. It appears residents hold their heads higher. According to a media report, restaurants have better tippers and the hottest ticket in town – the Hawks – is attracting more affluent customers. This city may no longer have the worst fan base. The 12th man – those who will be in attendance for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game – are trying to change that.

Before the season started not only were all regular season games sold out, all the preseason practices on the Lake Washington shoreline were sold out, as well. Everyone is getting on the act. My sister – such a football expert that she asked why quarterbacks don’t get credit for handing off to a running back that scores a touchdown – lives and dies with every play. Even my wife, who never cared about a football game in her life other than the Super Bowl, wants something blue and green for this NFC Championship game. Everywhere you look, men and women of all ages are donning Nos. 12, 3 or 24 jerseys. (Bonus points for being able to name those players.) The person in charge of the Hawks’ marketing department is doing one hell of a job. People in the city are all in. The 12th man and its favorite squad have garnered something I never thought was possible in this city: Hate.

You’ve heard of Minnesota Nice? Well, Seattle Nice is a thing, too. This city is built on cute things that bring smiles to people’s faces – Kenny G, Space Needle, ferries, Pike Place Fish Market, the outdoors, the green, the rain and a troll under a bridge. What can possibly give visitors a reason to dislike the site of the 1962 World’s Fair?

One reason: Success. Sure, there’s the Fail Mary, brash coach Pete Carroll, the swagger, the trash talking, the whining, the stadium that allegedly traps noise, the PED issue. These are all reasons for fans of other teams to hate on Seattle. Other cities just can’t stand the sight of their little brother passing them by on the corporate ladder. San Francisco’s fan base has been especially critical of Seattle and its 12th man.

The fact that Seattle and San Francisco are facing each other Sunday adds another intriguing chapter to this glorious season. The 13-3 regular-season run that showcased Russell Wilson’s special talent and one of the best defenses in the league is primed for a great finish whether it be on Sunday or in two weeks.

As for the NFC title tilt, I believe San Francisco wins on a neutral field. The Niners offense is better and the defense has done a solid job the last two months. But everyone knows it won’t be a neutral stadium.

I believe the difference will be in the Seattle secondary. Can Pro Bowler Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor slow down Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, while containing Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore? We shall see inside the 12th man’s sanctuary.

About the author: Boynton is back in his hometown of Seattle after going to school in the Midwest and working as a sports reporter.

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