Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB

Why We’re So Loud

When you bothered to think about Seattle, you probably thought about Starbucks, grunge music and endless rain. Now these Seahawks—Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman & Co.—are making up for all those times our city has been underestimated, overlooked or laughed at. And it feels good to yell about it

By Neal Bledsoe

All the noise means we’re finally being heard.

Typically in late January, no one is paying attention to Seattle sports, not even Seattleites. January means that the Mariners are rearranging deck chairs for next year’s shipwreck. January means trying to ignore the SuperSonics as they live out their lives as the Thunder in Oklahoma City—ironically a young, brash and divisive team that resembles basketball’s version of the Seahawks. January means the Seahawks themselves are properly brushed aside so that rightful men and rightful teams can take their place on the national stage. Men like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and teams that inspire middle-aged white men to spout stumbling clichés about toughness. Usually January means the nation isn’t paying attention to us, and we’re not paying attention either. In Seattle we sit by the fire and read; we head to the mountains; we drink; we build planes; we make beer; we cure cancer; we invent things; we are a busy people who never lack for things to do.

This January is different. The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl, and now everyone is paying attention. Not just in Seattle but across the country. Richard Sherman’s mouth has made sure of that, but so has his play. The earthquakes that thunder around C-Link as Marshawn Lynch runs have made sure of that. Russell Wilson’s mad scrambles to daylight and pinpoint accuracy have made sure of that. The list of electrifying players goes on: Earl Thomas, Percy Harvin, Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, etc. This is a team comprised of players who demand your undivided attention.

With the nation paying undivided attention to us, it’s brought an unprecedented scrutiny to our rainy city. A recent study examined the disparity between love and hate of NFL teams across America, and the gap was most extreme when it comes to the Seahawks. To put it in plain terms, Seattle is f—— crazy about the ’Hawks while the rest of country thinks they’re a bunch of a——. Our players talk smack, they explode into histrionics after every play, the stadium is obnoxiously loud, we have a coach who plenty of people think is about as honest as Richard Nixon and our players are as drugged on group-think deception and amphetamines as Chinese gymnasts. As much as there is to love, there is an awful lot to hate.

Our players talk smack, they explode into histrionics after every play, and the stadium is obnoxiously loud. In plain terms, Seattle is f—— crazy about the ’Hawks while the rest of country thinks they’re a bunch of a——.

One reason to hate us is what happened after the NFC Championship Game when Richard Sherman exploded. He was fiery and passionate, having finally delivered the revenge he had so longed to deliver. Here’s a guy who’d been overlooked his whole life. Who’d come into the league as a fifth-rounder. Who, through absolute and unceasing dedication to his game, had lifted himself to greatness. Here’s a guy who’d touched his dream. Here’s a guy who’d just taken his dream out of the hands of a first-round draft pick from one of the most storied franchises in sports. When Richard Sherman exploded, he wasn’t talking about one player being better than the other, he was talking for all of us who have felt overlooked for so long. Richard Sherman is Seattle.

Russell Wilson’s story is well known. Third-round draft pick. Became the captain of the Wisconsin Badgers a week after getting there. Outplayed everyone in his draft class. Consummate student of the game. Will beat you with his mind, or his legs, or his arm, but most often a combination of all three. It’s the work ethic that inspires you, the willingness to do whatever it takes to be great. Russell Wilson is Seattle.

Pete Carroll, forgotten until he won at USC and derided as a cheater when he did. Then he escaped under a pirate-black flag as USC burned behind him. He came to the Northwest and found something new. Reinvented himself in the salt air. Created a culture based on innovation and relentless fun. Pete Carroll is Seattle.

The Seahawks themselves are Seattle. There’s a reason we are living and dying with this team. We see our selves in all of them. In the way that the Steelers carry the tough steeltown roots of Pittsburgh, or the way that the Saints symbolized the rebirth of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the Seahawks represent every time Seattle has felt slighted, forgotten about, laughed at, or been labeled by a writer as a city that’s one-dimensional as grunge music, or coffee, or Microsoft. This team makes up for countless times we’ve been underestimated or put into a box. The city needs these Seahawks.

Narratives give people context to what they’re watching. They frame what would otherwise be a brutal bloodsport into a story that we can root for and believe in. But here’s what we all know deep down: Sports have no real bearing on our lives. If we’re jobless and destitute when our team wins on Super Bowl Sunday, we’ll still be jobless and destitute the following Monday. Fortunes of finance and love are not won and lost on the field when we don’t play the game. Betterment through ego-identification is a bright shining lie. We know it is, but it’s a beautiful lie and we all love to believe in it.

Rooting for Seattle sports teams has always been especially irrational. It’s like watching a rain-streaked window in the hopes that our absentee alcoholic father will come home for Christmas. A father we haven’t seen or heard from in years. A father we’ve received a postcard from once, years ago—“Just checking in to say hi!”—with the tantalizing promise of tomorrow. And that’s all it’s ever been for us in Seattle; always tomorrow, always next year, while we watch from our rainy corner of the country as football Christmas is realized in other homes. So forgive us; we’ve never had a team like this.

So know that when we’re loud, it’s not just noise, it’s the volcanic passion of a people witnessing a destiny that couldn’t possibly be true. It’s like seeing dad’s car roll up the driveway. When we’re brash, it’s because we can’t believe it’s really happening. It’s like seeing dad get out of the car and walk up to the house. When we’re arrogant, it’s because our hearts are exploding. It’s like opening the door, seeing dad there, making sure he’s not just another lie. And if and when we win it all, it will be like a thousand Christmases all at once.

So forgive us if we’re a bit too excited for you. It’s who we are and we’re finally being heard.

 

bledsoe-headshotNeal Bledsoe is an actor and writer. He has appeared in many films and TV shows, most recently the short-lived NBC drama Ironside.” He lives in Los Angeles but grew up in Seattle, and so inherited the Seahawks, Mariners, and SuperSonics—which makes him well acquainted with misery.

 

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155 comments
RAR
RAR

I live in Denver and believe objectively that the Broncos overall are the better team: clearly a way better offense, a very under-rated defense (you'll see), and coaches that simply outclasses the Seahawks' staff. So, yes, I do believe the Broncos will win the SB and convincingly at that. 


Now that I've got that off my chest, I must say that I've always enjoyed my visits to Seattle. However, your article makes me question my judgement. Maybe it was too much coffee. And I haven't been there since legalization, so it wasn't that. Are you actually relishing the role of being obnoxious? Perhaps you ought to re-examine your belief that "Betterment through ego-identification is a bright shining lie."

davidhd
davidhd

Yep, this article pretty much sums up how I feel as a Seattle sports fan. Even when our teams are good enough to make it to the championship, they are just flawed enough to lose and rip our hearts out. We get just enough attention nationally for people to talk about our teams, but not enough attention for those people to actually know anything about the teams they are talking about. 


This year is different, in that our team is the best in the NFL. The only problem? America's sweetheart, the best quarterback in the NFL, is on the other team. The Broncos are very average at every position on the field except WR and QB, while the Seahawks are elite at every position on the field except WR and Offensive Line. The Broncos have beaten nobody, except at overrated Patriots team, and the Seahawks have beaten the second best team in the NFL, the 49ers, to get here. The Broncos will be picked by everyone, and everyone will be rooting for them, except me and my fellow Seahawks fans. 


It's exactly as it should be, except that I'm hoping for the right ending for the first time in my 20 years as a fan. Seattle fans deserve a championship, even if America disagrees.

MikeCourts
MikeCourts

Great article, as an original Seahawk and Mariner fan who spent 4 years of college on the east coast followed by 30 years of traipsing around the world as an Army officer, who ALWAYS cheered irrationally for the woebegone NW teams. I have worn 12th man jerseys in Sarajevo and Baghdad, flown the flag in Texas, Kansas and other exotic locals. Now, retired and living near Seattle, I can unashamedly (never was really ashamed just bedraggled) paint myself blue and green, fly flags, scream at games and bombard my friends with Seahawk info on Face Book.  Don't care if the rest of the sports world hates us, thinks we are daft or just annoying. This is our team and this moment is 38 years in the making. "The Tip" will be remembered like "The Catch" by Dwight Clark or "The Immaculate Reception" by Franco Harris. It is the play that sent us to a Super bowl and will begin a run of championship football. And if it doesn't, well I will either be found skiing, kayaking, or enjoying my Starbucks :-)

Mike26
Mike26

Let's see how many of your players become more "innovative" in beating drug tests in the future...

LiamJohnson
LiamJohnson

SPOT ON!  So brilliant a description, I nearly dropped my latte!

Hawkfreak
Hawkfreak

The 12th Man phenomenon is real; it's palpable.  For most of us, this is as good as it has EVER been as a fan.  Seasons like this have only come around once or twice per generation with teams we root for in this region.


'79 Supersonics...'83 Seahawks...'95 Mariners...'01 Mariners...'05 Seahawks.  One professional sports championship in two generations of fandom constitutes guarded optimism anytime one of our teams starts progressing through a season.  Over the 48 seasons since the Sonics first took the court in the late 60's, we have become conditioned for letdowns and failures.


I guess this seasons Seahawks finally personify the energy and passion of its' fans.  As proud 'Hawks fans, most of us are reveling in the moment, just soaking it in.  No gloating.  No bragging.  Just wanting a good game with our team coming out of it on top, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.  For us, it's never been like this before, and with that guarded optimism, who knows if it will happen again.


For now, we can still daydream and boldly proclaim our predictions, like this: Super Bowl XLVIII will be the first overtime game in it's history, with the Seahawks beating the Broncos, 30-27.  Pinch me when its' over.


Go Hawks! 

Dick5
Dick5

Actually, its the shape of your stadium.  That's why you're so loud.

George
George

"Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing."

:D


DC2Brooklyn
DC2Brooklyn

I've lived in four cities with major sports teams over the last 15 years, Seattle included for five years. Seattle residents are generally very polite and friendly, though it is a shallow front. Most people there are not direct and are very passive aggressive, making it difficult to determine if they are genuine friends or only smiling until you leave. However, that changes when they throw on the blue and green colors.


There is no fan base that is more rude or insulting, or happier to say things that so far cross a line of decency that there isn't really a retort. It is as if a switch goes off and they no longer feel the need to restrain themselves or their thoughts. Let me be specific: Being born in D.C., I am a Redskins fan. I generally watch Skins games in a somber depression, and am therefore quiet. I will try to go back and forth with folks if there's some good natured trash talking thrown my way, but that's it. While watching a Redskins/Seahawks game at the now defunct Fox Sports Grill in downtown Seattle, I got up from my seat to use the restroom. One gentleman followed me along the way and started to make comments about the late Sean Taylor, stating that it was perfect that a thug like that went to the Redskins and how he was sure the whole story about his death was a cover up, that Taylor deserved what he got. I didn't enter the restroom, I just turned around, went back to the bar and asked for my tab and left. I think the gentleman was truly disappointed to not get the reaction he hoped for, but he yelled "thanks for leaving you piece of ..."


This is the worst example of their behavior that I have personally experienced, but sports fans of other cities who have lived in Seattle almost always agree with me about Seattle fans being the worst to be around. While I never felt like I was in physical danger in Seattle wearing other teams' colors, not like in Philly for example, I was always conscious of the likelihood of entitled, predominantly upper class and white, Seattle fans displaying such classless behavior.


Congratulations Seattle fans on your team's recent successes. I can only be thankful that, as more attention is directed at the team and city, the national reputation of your fans will continue to decline.


rollwithit
rollwithit

The guy hit on it.  It's Christmas Day for Seattle fans if they win after all the losing.  Denver fans should know how that feels after being the brunt of jokes for years as Super Bowl losers that were part of so many bad Super Bowls, and then finally winning not one, but two of them.  


Now take that with Seattle fans and apply it to every pro sport in the city except the 1979 NBA championship that was on CBS "tape delay" at 11:30pm because no one cared about NBA basketball in the US until Magic and Bird showed up.


This is more than Christmas Day...this is yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars of no Christmas, ruined Christmas. And the one "winning" Christmas that was so average that it made Columbus Day look festive.

Marc T
Marc T

Oh boy, what a drama queen.

KyleRimler
KyleRimler

Never lived in Seattle. Lived near Buffalo. Was a Bills fan. Became Hawks fan when Chuck Knox moved to Seattle from Buffalo. I was 7,8 or 9... And this article is so true. So many times, let down. We need this game. To beat all the bests in the Playoffs. Saints, 49ers, and Broncos. That will shake the USA...talk about an Earthquake! Now I am in Dallas and will be watching with over 200 Hawk fans.....getting loud for our team. Great article!

WilliamTaylor
WilliamTaylor

I grew up in Cheney, Wa. In the early and mid 80's watching spring training on the fresh cut grass at EWU. I looked up to the Herman Weavers and Jim Zornes and hoped one day I would see a Seahawks team that was complete. 35 years of being a true blue picked on fan i totally agree with this story. The Hawks represent an multiple generations and now it's our time to shine..

renazal
renazal

Neal, this piece is absolutely perfect. You've captured exactly how every long-term Seattle sports fan feels. Hurt so many times, timid that we will be scorned again, but overflowing with so much joy that we can't contain it. Neal Bledsoe is Seattle.

CasinoGal
CasinoGal

None of this explains the God-awful, hideous uniforms worn by the Seahawks. Worst uniforms in the NFL. (I guess if the power goes out in the year's SuperBowl, people will be able to see from the glow of the sneakers.

jackieau87
jackieau87

so neal doesn't even live in seattle anymore?? could've at least had an actually seattle resident pen this article.....anyway go hawks!!

Jinyu253
Jinyu253

Bandwagon 12s are still 12s. The more noise the better. Go with it.

BobbyDavidson
BobbyDavidson

Bandwagon. Diehard fans don't "brush aside " their team because their not good. The Seahawks are a great team but it work for Microsoft and it's sickening to see all of the jerseys all of the sudden and beenies. Hilarious.

DredScott
DredScott

Neal, excellent article, you nailed it to a T ........

KevinRagsac
KevinRagsac

Where did these troller, haters, come from?  They just keep on trolling.  They attack the fans, blame the stadium, blame the article, blame this.  They try to make excuses why the team is doing as well as it is.



Jon8
Jon8

Nonsense!!


It does however have a lot to do with the acoustics of the Stadium.


Witness, RFK used to be one of, if not THE loudest place to play in the NFL, but FEDEX Field is dramatically less loud.  Chicago Stadium, where the Bulls and Blackhawks played, was electric with noise and excitement. United Center, not nearly so. These are just two of the many examples that can be cited.


This is not a knock on the Seattle fans, it is just a reality check that stadium design has a lot to do with the volume of sound produced!

JustinMartinez
JustinMartinez

I am a lifetime Bronco Fan born in Colorado. Grew up watching Bronco football and understand passion about your team. In so many ways these two teams meeting in the SuperBowl are alike its a shame only one can be World Champions. We all know your team will show up and give it everything they got but don't expect to bully the Broncos because they are coming with a purpose too and its all business. There are a lot of Veterans on this Bronco team and they have been to the big game, fought to get to the game after 14 years, and one even has his legacy riding on it we call him THE G.O.A.T.  He too has been to the big show and lost before to a team just like the Seahawks. He is old can't move in the pocket, has a tendency to get nervous and throw ints., has choked under pressure before... we will see how this old man does. But the good thing is that we just need to get 36 yds every possession because are kicker is good for 64 at least that is what I heard.

Epacific
Epacific

@Mike26 And don't forget the alcoholics on the team.  Oh wait, that's Aldon Smith of the 49ers.  Well, Seattle has that player who settled an under-age rape case.  Oh, actually that was Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers.  Well, Seattle definitely has those murderers, right?  Oh, wait that was Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots. Gee, you mean all that the Seahawks have done is take some Adderall- a drug that college students take for concentration?  Oh, the humanity of it all!!

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@Mike26 As always, quality hate and jealousy. Keep up the good work.

Mike26
Mike26

@Hawkfreak The 12th Man was an idea stolen from Texas A&M - a tradition that they'd had for decades.  When you base your foundation of fanhood on something so clearly ripped off from a COLLEGE team, your credibility as a fan base is nonexistent.

TruthSeeker12
TruthSeeker12

@DC2Brooklyn If you don't like the fans and the team then move some place else where you do like the fans and the team.  I don't know why people are always moving here and decide they hate everything about the city, state, teams, people.  If you don't like us then move it's that simple.

thebyron
thebyron

@DC2Brooklyn  - "There is no fan base that is more rude or insulting"  You clearly have never encountered Raiders fans or any sports fans from Philadelphia.

Nonfantasylandman
Nonfantasylandman

@DC2Brooklyn I wore my Cincinnati Reds jersey to a Mariner-Reds Game, and got taunted relentlessly over the passing of Shotzie 4

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@DC2Brooklyn One drunk idiot and you cast a dispersion over an entire city? You really need to grow up a bit, or get a little perspective.

JasonRivas
JasonRivas

@WilliamTaylorFrom Spokane, and I was there in Cheney, too! 

I was too young to enjoy and appreciate the Sonics 79 championship. In 1980, I was introduced the Seahawks. Zorn to Largent is my first indelible memory. Captivating. Amazing. Hooked. 


I've lived every Seahawk moment since then. So when I imagine what it would be like to see them win a Super Bowl , it almost brings tears to my eyes. In fact, tears are not uncommon among Seahawk fans. Tears of joy are a new thing. We are passionate because we are ready. Collectively. This whole area is united. I live in Portland now and the 12's are out in force. It's great.



George
George

@CasinoGal Hey!  What's not to like about the phosphorescent color liver-bile green?


:D


rollwithit
rollwithit

@CasinoGal 3 of the top 10 sold NFL jerseys are the hideous Seahawk uniforms.  I don't love them but you get used to them...I remember the hate over the "cheap NFL Europe looking" Patriots uniforms when they redesigned theirs--which now sells like crazy...thanks to winning all the time.  The Chargers got made fun of too, yet the talk has died out.  Now the Jaguars...well that really did jump the shark with their two-tone helmets, but a bunch of wins will probably blind people to it.

DavidHart
DavidHart

@CasinoGal Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I guess ALL NFL teams should run their uniform designs by you for your approval or disapproval, since you seem to think that you are the arbiter of all fashion.  Thanks for your imput.

DavidHart
DavidHart

@jackieau87 Even when you don't live there, you still can remain passionate about the team and the city.  I was born and raised in Seattle, before there were ANY pro teams....the Supersonics were the first, in 1966,. followed by the Pilots, Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders, etc.....and I have followed them all through the years.  There is no place on earth like Seattle, it is just the best.  I don't live there now, but my heart is still there, and I still call it home.  Go Hawks!

t

Marc T
Marc T

@Jon8 You're right, obviously.  But then again, this article is not about reality, it is touchy-feely and ra-ra-ra!

GregoryBrose
GregoryBrose

@JustinMartinez I hate to rain on your parade, but, your kicker will not be good for 64 in "Joisey". "Na Joisey" is not a mile above sea level.

DredScott
DredScott

@JustinMartinez


It will be a great game Justin, and whatever happens, the Lombardi Trophy is coming to the BEST Coast for a long time to come!!


GOOD LUCK!!


GO SEAHAWKS!!!

Mike26
Mike26

@Epacific @Mike26     By all means - try to distract from the issue rather than fix it.  That'll work.  

Mike26
Mike26

@BigSchtick @Mike26 So now FACTS - such as the fact the Seahawks have more drug suspensions than any other team in the league - are considered hate and jealousy?  LOL!

Hawkfreak
Hawkfreak

@Mike26 @Hawkfreak Since someone already went through a discourse on the agreement that was reached between Texas A&M and the Seahawks, and the history of the "12th Man" moniker, which stretches back decades before it was a trademarked phrase, without splitting hairs, I'll just clarify my whole point: The passion that this city and region feels, as a loud and vocal fan base, is real.  It's not a fad.  It's not fueled by bandwagon fans. The phenomenon is that the team, for once, has actually met the level of energy and enthusiasm that true Seahawk fans have been bringing for decades.


Now, exactly how does that affect our credibility again? 

Mech
Mech

@George@CasinoGal  We picked that color after Kam Chancellor hit a 49er and he oozed it from his spleen !!!!

ADK9595
ADK9595

The title is 'Why We're So Loud'. The answer is - Stadium design. The other fluff is irrelevant.

Mike26
Mike26

@Hawkfreak @Mike26 Seattle hangs its hat on a college slogan that was created long before the Seahawks were a figment of the NFL's eye.  Having an "agreement" because the Seahawks had clearly infringed upon a trademarked phrase doesn't make the foundation any more credible.  Most NFL bases have rabid fans - not many of their stadiums have the acoustics to amplify their sound like Seattle.  Kudos to the 'Hawks for their stadium design - that's the REAL difference.

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