New Seahawks fans find room on the bandwagon

Here’s something a massive crowd in downtown Seattle proves: There is room — lots of room — for those of us known as bandwagon Seahawks fans.

If you are one, welcome to the club. It’s a big one.

It may have seemed that every ecstatic Seahawks supporter quoted in each media report about our Super Bowl champs is a longtime season ticket holder. That can’t possibly be true. Do the math.

Wednesday’s Super Bowl victory parade drew an estimated 700,000 Seahawks fanatics to Seattle streets. For 2013, the Seahawks capped season tickets at 62,000 — those were sold out by midsummer. CenturyLink Field seats 67,000 for NFL games.

That leaves about 638,000 people in Wednesday’s crowd who were not season ticket holders with multigenerational legacies of Seahawks fandom. Even figuring that many in the multitude were children of fans who can boast Seahawks roots stretching back to Kingdome days, there had to be hundreds of thousands of newbies.

And that doesn’t begin to count all of us who didn’t make it to Wednesday’s celebration, the likes of which Seattle had never seen.

Yep, I’ll admit it. I am one, a come-lately Seahawks fan who only started seriously watching games toward the end of the 2012 season. My dad, who turns 91 next week, has been in front of his TV in Spokane most every Seahawks Sunday since 1976. I was rarely there on the couch with him.

I loved my friend Kristi O’Harran’s Herald column Thursday about her family’s long history as a true-blue Seahawks bunch. But it’s not my story. Until the past couple years, I would gladly watch Husky football — from home or in Husky stadium — but the Hawks? Not so much.

It took writing about people who live and breathe Seahawks, plus this incredible season to get me hooked.

In October, I interviewed Patti Hammond, the octogenarian known to all real Seahawks fans as “Mama Blue.” The Shoreline woman is such a flamboyant super fan that she was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was happy to hear her on the radio after Sunday’s game — and of course she had made it to New Jersey to see the Hawks’ 43-8 victory.

Before and since the Super Bowl, I’ve seen “bandwagon fan” used in less than flattering ways, mostly in online comments. The impression is that forever fans, who stuck it out through up and down seasons, take a dim view of folks with new 12th Man flags and “Beast Mode” shirts.

At least one Seahawks loyalist welcomes all of us into the fold.

“The way I look at it, we’re all 12s,” said Damon Matz, of Marysville. He is vice president of membership with the Sea Hawkers Booster Club’s central council.

The Sea Hawkers, the team’s official booster club launched in 1976, has more than 26 groups worldwide, including a Snohomish County chapter.

“The Sea Hawkers are growing exponentially,” said Matz, 35, a season-ticket holder since 2004. “Every day I get e-mail from people wanting to start a chapter. They want to give back to their communities. That’s what this team is about.”

In Snohomish County, Matz said, Sea Hawkers gave $800 and five big boxes of toys to the Toys for Tots charity this past holiday season. Local Sea Hawkers sponsor a youth football team at the Boys &Girls Club in Lake Stevens. “I was coaching that team,” Matz said.

Sea Hawkers have contributed to United Way, Ronald McDonald House and other charities, said Matz, who cheered at the victory parade with his fiance, Caryn Hendrickson, his 6-year-old son Matthew, and his future mother-in-law.

“This championship isn’t just for the team, it’s for everyone in the community,” he said.

Even fans who came late to the party?

“The more the merrier,” Matz said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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