Seahawks Combined (1)

Eight Years Ago – A Tale of Two Fans At Super Bowl XL

This is the story of two brothers remembering the Seattle Seahawks last Super Bowl as they get ready to go to the next one.

Garrett: I am just a day and a half away from boarding my flight to New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVII. While I would be excited under any circumstances, I am even more excited because I've been to a Super Bowl before. I know what to expect. I've been to hundreds of sporting events across the country and there is nothing like the Super Bowl. I learned this after attending every regular season home game and every playoff game in 2005. After cheering the Seahawks on 10 times at Seahawks Stadium (before any sponsorship!), it seemed like the logical conclusion to go to Detroit and see it all the way through.

Parker: Going to Super Bowl XL has always been not only one of my favorite sports memories, but one of my favorite life memories. I was only thirteen back in 2005 when the Seahawks went to their first Super Bowl. I was a burgeoning fan. I was bred to be a fan of Seattle sports, but I was far from reaching my potential, I still watched more Nickelodeon than I did ESPN.

I was getting there though. As my brother alluded to, we went to every home game in 2005, both playoffs and regular season. That year my passion for the Seahawks swelled. I can’t take credit though, they made it easy on me. Watching the Seahawks scrape out every regular season game, then culminating with the NFC Championship game, catapulted me to the next level of fandom. The journey didn’t end there though, we were off to the Super Bowl.

G: We were there for just the game. We didn't do Media Day, any of the pregame activities. As a matter of fact, we intentionally stayed a couple hours away from the stadium. Actively seeking to avoid the Super Bowl prices and circus, we drove in just for the game.

P: It is important to emphasize where that Super Bowl was. It was in effing Detroit. That was a pretty big factor in our decision to spend as little time in the city as possible. Who wants to hang around Detroit? And this wasn’t our first time in Detroit, we had already seen all of the enchanting attractions the city had to offer. No, we straight drove in, went straight to Ford Field, and then drove straight out. Super Bowl week was in Detroit for seven days, we were in Detroit for seven hours.

G:  That's true. Detroit was not a destination for us. Plus, we'd been in Detroit in the summer for Seattle Mariners’ games, when it was pleasant (at least in terms of weather). In the winter… not so much. However, in New York (where the Super Bowl events are), I plan on doing a little more. Soaking in the whole experience a bit, not just the game.

To me, it can't be overstated just how corporate the Super Bowl is. I know every fan has heard of it and read it and is intellectually aware of it. But it is completely different in person. I distinctly recall being dressed up in my Matt Hasselbeck jersey and a Seahawks dreadlock hat, as were my brother and stepbrother. Nothing extravagant. But we were a spectacle at Ford Field. More than once were we asked to pose for pictures… with Pittsburgh Steeler fans!

P: We really wanted to soak up the experience so we got to the stadium a couple of hours before kickoff. We were certainly outnumbered by Steelers fans. Going for their fifth Championship, I wouldn’t have been able to keep count of how many times I heard Steeler fans yelling “one for the thumb!” all day. And oh, those terrible towels, how I deplore those terrible towels. They’re yellow cuts of cheap cloth that Steeler fans like to wave around in the air like wannabee wranglers. If I had my way I would have terrible towels come out of my Kleenex dispenser. Yes, eight years later I am still bitter.

G: When it came to the game itself, the atmosphere change was even more surreal. Parker’s right, we were outnumbered by Steeler fans. Having never been to a road NFL game, not being surrounded by fellow Seahawks fans was unusual. Even more unusual was the fact that both sets of fans were dwarfed by the larger impartial corporate crowd. In Seahawks Stadium, we had never felt any shame at standing up and cheering our loudest. Because everyone was. Cheering definitely wasn’t appreciated in the same way at the Super Bowl. Sure, we were cheering for big plays but otherwise, we kept quiet.

P: Personally, I don’t recall an overwhelming corporate presence at the game. That very well may have been a product of my youth, I definitely didn’t understand how commercialized and corporate the game actually was. I remember our seats were in a pocket of Steelers fans, or maybe it’d be more accurate to describe it as a throng of Steeler fans. We cheered and held our own, but we definitely weren’t standing up and howling before every offensive play run by the Steelers like we would in Seattle.

G: One of the weirdest things about the Super Bowl was the different perspective that we got live. I can’t speak for Parker, but I distinctly remember not having a huge problem with the refs in game. When I first heard someone say that the refs screwed the Hawks, I wrote it off. It wasn't until a couple of days later that I realized that this was a common narrative, particularly among the Seattle fanbase. Admittedly, it took me that long because I couldn't stand to watch coverage for a couple days…

P: For me, one of the weirdest things about that Super Bowl was the fact that I can’t remember it. I remember the pre-game, the post-game, the night before and the night after, but the game itself is a complete blur. My natural coping mechanism for the stinging defeat was complete memory loss. Oddly I can vividly remember the moment the game “ended,” when we left our seats with a few minutes left to avoid the heartache of watching the Pittsburgh celebration. Walking dejectedly up those stairs sticks firmly in my head while the sixty minutes of football preceding it are lost. As for the refs, there is one play that I remember feeling cheated on during the game. It was when Ben Roethlisberger snuck to the goal line, was tackled, and then extended himself over the plain for the score. That play took place right in front of us, and our suspicions were sadly confirmed when we later learned Roethlisberger was clearly down before scoring.

G: I might not say "cheated" on the Big Ben scramble, but I was definitely unsure of the call. However, now that you mention it, I don't remember that many individual plays that well. The Jerramy Stevens drop, the trick play by the Steelers and the Big Ben no-touchdown/touchdown. Maybe not to the same extent, but I think I may have blocked out some of the game also.

I have a bit of a contradiction. As a result of the Super Bowl, I hate the Steelers. Couldn't bear to stay and watch the Lombardi Trophy ceremony. Behind rooting for my Seahawks and against the 49ers, there is currently no team I enjoy watching lose more than Pittsburgh. However, I don't feel that antipathy towards the fans. At the Super Bowl, there was, in my opinion, almost a cross-fan camaraderie. We were so outnumbered by the corporate crowd that there was something intangible that bonded us fans. As we walked up the aisle, admitting painful defeat, Steelers fans reached out to shake our hands, to tell us it was a good game and commended us for cheering. I know some, my dad included, felt it was a little condescending of the Steeler fans but I didn't think so, even at the time. How did you interpret that?

P: I think it is only natural to feel hate towards the team that denied you the experience of winning the Super Bowl. And I feel hate towards the Steelers and their fans, but it wasn’t because of any poor treatment or badgering by the fans in black and yellow that day. They were indeed gracious in their victory, as they damn well should have been. At your home stadium it is one thing, but to blast opposing fans after their team just lost the Super Bowl is classless. Steelers fans treated us fine as we took the walk of shame out of the stadium, but I don’t really give them any credit for that. Yes, eight years later and I am still bitter.

G: Of course, one my most lasting memories of the Super Bowl experience is the agony of defeat. We drove the couple hours full of exuberance and joyful energy. We left subdued, quiet and just downright defeated. Even a drive-thru order at a McDonalds (because we couldn't bear to eat before or during the game) was an ordeal. And yet, despite that pain, I can't wait to go again. Being there once and losing once makes me more prepared for Super Bowl XLVIII. While I hope the Hawks come out on top, this will be an experience that I will never forget and I am thrilled to get to go to a Seahawks' Super Bowl twice in my lifetime (and hopefully more if the football gods are benevolent).

P: Super Bowl XL is behind us, and Super Bowl XLVIII is upon us. I consider myself extremely lucky, having had the chance to personally experience Seattle’s only two trips to the big show. This weekend’s story has yet to be written, and while its legacy is largely dependent on what takes place in between the numbers on Sunday, I know that personally I’ll have a memory that lasts forever. I hope it’s a memory that entails a win, and aggressive partying in Manhattan until the sun comes up the next morning. But if it’s having dinner at McDonalds again, bitter and defeated, then so be it. I’m just thrilled to be going.

G & P: Go Hawks!

About Arran Gimba