Google+ Q Dot: Why 12s defend their Seahawks and reputation

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why 12s defend their Seahawks and reputation

It's no secret. The 12th man is one of professional sports loudest, proudest -and depending on who you ask- most annoying fan bases. All with good reason.

But how did it get like this?

Some signs point to social media's role in our daily lives. Some would attribute the fervor to the teams recent success. But contrary to popular perception the 12th man has always loved their Seahawks - even in the down years. According a report by Forbes magazine, the Seahawks rank 7th in the NFL in official merchandise sales (numbers of unofficial merchandise are not available), they've also been in a tie for first place in sell out games. In fact, the Seahawks have sold out every home game except 1 since moving into Century Link Field in the early 2003. Century Link Field, known as one of pro football's loudest stadiums has been in the top 3 in opposing team false starts since opening in 2003, spending more than half the years since in the #1 slot.

Even when the Seahawks posted 4 straight losing seasons from 2008-2011 *with winning the NFC west in 2010, and winning the NFC West 7 times in the 12 years they've played at Century Link, most would attribute their home field advantage of crowd noise generated by the fans.

But there's an often overlooked aspect to the growing 12th Man Mania in the Northwest and around the country.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

When the Seahawks hired the duo as coach and GM they changed the culture of team from top to bottom. The Mike Holmgren era ushered in a winning culture that led to the teams first Super Bowl appearance but also was notoriously private and very businesslike. Practices were closed and media availability was limited.

In comes Pete Carroll, upbeat and always positive with a different approach than the hard nosed coach we associate with the NFL. His practices have hip hop music blaring and are open to the public (training camp) and media. In essence, Pete Carroll has made marketing the team has became more about the players than the franchise itself by making an environment and culture that makes them comfortable.

With the addition of a second sports radio station in town (710 ESPN) more players and staff were made available throughout the week for interviews than in the prior Jim Mora and Mike Holmgren years and thus the 12th man who was always revered as a factor in the teams home success would now become closer to the players.

Who are they?
Though we loved Sean Alexander we didn't know what role his Christian faith played in his life. We didn't know about Matt Hasselbeck's years at Boston College and how growing up in a football family shaped his life and career. We didn't get to hear about Alex Bannister rising from 5th round draft pick to a key part of the Seahawks first Super Bowl season or how Ben Obamanu rose from a 7th round pick practice squad guy out of Auburn to be a mainstay on the roster. We didn't know what growing up in the breadbasket of America did for Steve Largent's grittiness and toughness on the field. And let's be honest, Russell Wilson isn't the first Seahawk player to visit sick kids.

The difference is we see it now. Seahawk fans can defend a guy like Marshawn Lynch for not talking to the media and grabbing his crotch even if we think it's wrong because we feel like we KNOW him. His mom makes several trips to Jersey's Sports Bar in Federal Way throughout the year. We know where he's from, how growing up in Oakland impacted his life, why he reaches and gives back to Oakland. He's one of "us" now. He's like the one friend that every one picks on and teases because maybe they eat boogers but since you know and care about that friend you can defend his oddities.

We know Russell Wilson's story of being told he was too short, played minor league baseball, was told by NC State they were going in a "different direction" even though he had one year of eligibility left, we know how he went to Wisconsin and earned a Captain spot almost the first day he stepped on campus.

We have guys named "Beast mode", "Angry Doug", "Bam Bam Kam." Sure ten years ago we had Big Play Babs but who really knew HIM? What's more is that Blue Friday's are now social events that are no longer just for the testosterone filled guys with beer bellies at sports bars. They're being held in offices and schools, 12th man flags fly from homes and businesses everywhere, they've become social events for every man, every woman, every child and every family. The kid who barely knows what a first down is knows the names of half the roster. The girl who would've never bought a jersey now has 2 plus socks to match. The guy who is only a casual sports fan is now swept up in the madness and can't get enough of yelling his lungs out while tailgating before the game. The power of sports in a community is being realized in Seattle.

All in all, you can say it's social media, you can say it's the teams PR and Marketing departments but if you want to blame Seattle for being completely insane over blame Uncle Pete. Go Hawks.

Q Dot is a Grammy nominated MC/Pianist from Federal Way, WA. And a die-hard 12.

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