By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
It’s no secret that Seahawks fans have taken a beating lately. From being called bandwagon fans to getting our most obnoxious behavior thrown in our faces, the hate has been coming from a lot of different angles since the Super Bowl. But that’s what happens when you’re world champs.
I mean, no one hates the Jacksonville Jaguars, right?
Overall, though, we Seahawks fans are a pretty tame group. We wait for traffic lights before celebrating in the crosswalk, for crying out loud. We’re a proud group, too. We revel in our record-breaking noise, we paint our houses in Seahawks colors and we light up our buildings with 12s.
But as much as we may think we’re the best fans in the country, (apparently) we’re not. According to a recent story in Forbes, Seahawks fans are the ninth-best fans in the NFL, behind the likes of Packers, Broncos and Steelers fans.
So I thought, what better time than now to talk about the rules of being a good Seahawks fan? The bandwagon is a bit larger and there are a few new faces. I sat down with some friends who are longtime Hawks fans and we came up with 12 rules every good Seahawks fan must abide by.
1. Be loud but not obnoxious. Yes, Seahawks fans, make noise and yell your lungs out at the game or in your man cave on Sunday morning. But when the game’s over, leave the noise at the C-Link. Don’t get in people’s faces at QFC on a Thursday and scream “12s forever, dude!!!” Time and place, people.
2. Talk trash but don’t be a jerk. Look, we’ve got every reason to slam the Raiders when they come to town on Nov. 2. They’re awful. We’re great. But let’s not become them. “It’s always fun to talk a little trash, but we don’t want to be Raiders fans,” said friend and longtime Seahawks fan Mike “Mugga” Bruington. “Have fun, but don’t get violent.”
3. Know who to hate. Of course there are the Niners, Rams and Cardinals. These teams are our division rivals, so they stand in our way of true glory. But every self-respecting Seahawks fan also has a burning hatred deep in their hearts for our old AFC rivals, the Broncos, Raiders, Chargers and Chiefs. I shudder at the names “Elway,” “Derrick Thomas,” and “Bo Jackson.” These were players who tormented my childhood. Those Bronco Buster T-shirts are back in style for a reason. That’s what makes this season so great: Not only do we get six games against our NFC West rivals, but we play all four teams from the AFC West, too.
4. If you hear “SEA” … You have to answer with “HAWKS.” This is non-negotiable.
5. Build rituals. It’s important for any fan base to have traditions. There’s the raising of the 12th Man flag before every game and the “12” placards that fans wave. But it goes beyond that. Fans need personal rituals, too. “We have a guy in our group named Travis, and all we have to say to him is ‘Hey, Travis we need a two-three,’ ” Bruington said. “He’ll get up and yell ‘Two-Three,’ and everyone answers with ‘SEA’ and ‘HAWKS.’ It’s fun and it gets everybody going.” Another friend I talked to, Mark Demaray, said his tailgating group, Hawkstrong, takes either a jersey or hat from the opposing team and burns it in effigy before every tailgating party.
6. Stand by me. Your seat at the C-Link isn’t going to get used a lot, especially when the Seahawks are on the field. If the 12th Man had a logo, it would be the silhouette of a standing man, shoulders slightly forward and hands cupped around his mouth.
7. Know your history. There’s Jacob Green, Jim Zorn, Joe Nash. Cortez Kennedy is in the Hall of Fame and Walter Jones just joined him. “Ground” Chuck Knox brought the Seahawks out of the ice age and Tom Flores took us right back. Mike Holmgren coached the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl appearance and Shaun Alexander won an MVP (true Seahawks fans know it was the offensive line that earned it, though). Then there’s Steve Largent. Sure he could catch like no else and, yes, he was a great guy. But ask a Seahawks fan what they remember most about Largent, and they’ll say “The Hit.”
8. Understand the pain. Vinny Testaverde’s phantom touchdown. The Rick Mirer years. Terrell Owens and the Sharpie. Keyshawn Johnson’s out-of-the-end-zone touchdown catch. Then there’s Tamarick Vanover. The Chiefs’ return man returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in 1995 and also caught a touchdown against the Seahawks as K.C. swept Seattle. “I have an unnatural hatred of Tamarick Vanover,” said friend and lifelong Seahawks fan Shaun Larson. “It felt like every time he touched the ball against us, he scored. It was ridiculous.”
9. Grow a tough skin. As I wrote above, the Seahawks are hated now. No longer are we the forgotten team in “south Alaska.” So get used to it; there are going to be a lot of pot shots directed at the Seahawks this year.
10. Dress the part. Whether you’re Sea-Hulk or Big Lo, there’s one constant with Seahawks fans: plenty of blue and neon green. Dye your beard, paint your chest or don a current or throwback jersey. It doesn’t matter. Just remember, no T.J. Houshmandzadeh jerseys.
11. Tailgate in style. With all the urban space around the C-Link, there’s ample room for great tailgating. Demaray said his group posts up in an alley that runs parallel to First Avenue, south of the stadium. Get there early, barbecue some kind of meat, down a couple of cold beverages and rile yourself up before the big game. But this is Seattle, so, of course, there’s often a philanthropic aspect to it. “We accept donations and 100 percent of proceeds go to a dozen local charities,” Demaray said. “Our Hawkstrong group alone has raised about $15,000 the last couple years.”
12. Don’t get a big head. This is the NFL, and what’s up one year can be down the next. As was covered in the history portion of this column, Seahawks fans know the depths of despair. And though this season may look promising, it can all come crashing down in an instant. But remember, true Seahawks fans stick by the team through thick and thin.