Three days after winning Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seahawks celebrated the franchise-first achievement with their fans during a parade that attracted more than 700,000 and a stadium ceremony before 50,000 more.
What could the 12th Man possibly come up with to even remotely match what the Seahawks pulled off in Super Bowl XLVIII?
We all found out on Wednesday, when the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship team was honored with a parade through downtown Seattle that drew a crowd estimated at more than 700,000 fans and then greeted by a more “intimate” gathering of 50,000 at CenturyLink Field for a Championship Ceremony. There also were 27,000 watching from Safeco Field across the street, and another 144,000 viewed the live steam at Seahawks.com.
The day was, from start to finish, simply Super.
“What an incredible day we had today,” coach Pete Carroll said after the ceremony at the stadium. “Gosh, there are just not enough words to describe the emotion and the exchange that was given from the fans to our players and from our players to the fans.
“It was just an amazing day. The consistency of the intensity of the fans though the parade was amazing. … I can’t imagine a better one than that. It was just over the top.”
Four buses carrying the players, coaches and staff – as well as three filled family and friends – left Virginia Mason Athletic Center at roughly 10:15 a.m. As the buses passes by a serpentine of cars along I-90, the passengers were honking horns, waving 12th Man flags and snapping photos. As the Seahawks’ caravan made its way along I-5 en route to EMP, you could catch glimpses of the throngs that were clogging the intersections along the Fourth Avenue parade route.
Once at EMP, where the parade started, the thought was that if the amount of fans remained consistent along the 2.3-mile trip to CenturyLink Field that would a fitting tribute to a Seahawks team that had throttled the Denver Broncos 43-8 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.
But, as they proved all season, the 12th Man doesn’t do anything in a small way.
As the parade of 29 vehicles made its way to the stadium, the crowds just continued to get larger, and larger and larger.
“That’s kind of how our love for them is, it gets deeper and deeper and more and more,” All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said before climbing out of the LMTV vehicle that carried the Legion of Boom secondary. “We love the 12th Man. Best fans in the world and they just showed us another reason today.”
And this definitely was a Love In, 12th Man style. The fans were lining the streets, clogging intersections, hanging from trees and out the windows of apartments and businesses. They screamed. They hollered. Sherman moved from one side of the vehicle to the other, leading chants of “LOB. LOB. LOB.” When Sherman needed a break, All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor took over and orchestrated a “Boom” cheer, pounding his right fist into this left hand – just as he did all season during the player introductions before games.
“It was just constant intensity, and fun,” Carroll said.
Despite the players and coaches being above the crowd in the beds of the military vehicles, there was plenty of interaction.
As the LOB-mobile left EMP to chants of, “LOB. LOB. LOB,” Chancellor was the first to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. That set off chants of “Lom-bar-di. Lom-bar-di.” That’s were there was also a young boy holding a sign that pretty much said it all: Thank You for Being You.”
“The thing that struck me so was the little kids,” Carroll said. “We’d see them in the front row, and knowing that we’re touching them. They’re screaming and hollering, and some of them were kind of intimidated by it. But to know that they had this moment … I think touching from the young to the old in this is really a very, very unique opportunity we’ve shared in and it’s a great gift.
As the caravan approached Fourth and Denny, the crowd grew to 25-30 deep on each side of the parade route. That’s also where an older fan made eye contact with Chancellor, pointed at him and hollered, “You’re the best.”
There also were the signs where the fans flaunted their imagination. A young woman was waving one: “Russell (Wilson), hug me. It’s my birthday.” A young man was holding another: “Doug Baldwin. My wife thinks you’re hot.” There was one sign in a widow of the courthouse: “Jury Out: Hawks Super Bowl Champs.” Another young woman was waving a sign aimed at Sherman: “It’s my birthday, let’s make out.”
It was a cold, clear day, but it also was raining Skittles, as fans tossed them into the beds of the vehicles – a salute to Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks’ Skittles-munching Beast Mode running back. At one point, one fan passed up a couple of hotdogs, and the LOB attacked them like a potential end-zone interception. At another juncture, a XXXL blue bra was flung into the vehicle.
Then there was the young woman that Sherman looked at and blew a kiss to. She shrieked and appeared to ready to faint, but was held up by the fans packed around her.
It was that kind of day. And, of course, there was dancing, too – as the players did their thing to the repetitive line “These Haters Can’t Hold Us Back” from “Can’t Hold Us Back” at Westlake Mall; and then bounced to Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” when the caravan reached Pioneer Square, where the crowd had grown even larger.
Once at the stadium, the players were introduced in reverse numerical order – from No. 99, defensive tackle Tony McDonald; to No. 3, quarterback Russell Wilson, who emerged from the tunnel with the Lombardi Trophy in hand.
After former Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, raised the 12th Man flag, owner Paul Allen, president Peter McLoughlin, general manager John Schneider, Carroll, Sherman and Wilson made short statements – or Love Letters, if you will. And the crowd at CenturyLink roared its approval at almost every word.
Allen proclaimed, “You are the best fans in the NFL.” He also reminded everyone that, “We are all Super Bowl champions, each and every one of us.” McLoughlin took it to another level by saying, “We have the best fans in all of sports.”
But Wilson brought down the house when he offered, “As we’ve been saying all year, ‘What’s next?’ So our plan is to win another one next year.”
As good as Sunday night’s Super Bowl victory was, Wednesday made it extra special because the players got to share it with so many of their fans.
“My mind is blown. My body is cold,” Sherman said. “But we’ve got the best fans in the world.”
Seahawks share their Super Bowl success with 12th Man.