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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

January 17, 2014 at 9:58 PM

Divided by football, but still united in love

Rivalries aside, football means “family time” for Mollie Martin. “I love the football season because it’s the only time we all get to hang out in the same room.”

Sketched Jan. 14-16, 2014

I got a pretty good idea of how much some Seahawk fans despise the 49ers when I sketched Gary Buchanan’s “Hawk One” tailgating motor home at the beginning of the season. Lift the toilet seat inside the vehicle’s restroom and guess what you see down there: a San Francisco 49ers bumper sticker to aid as a target.

In the postseason, though, I’ve come across an opposite reality. Love and understanding between Seahawks and 49ers fans is still possible, even when they live under the same roof.

Jason Martin has been married to a die-hard 49er’s fan for 18 years. “We couldn’t handle political differences,” he said, but football is OK. It helps to have three TV screens to watch the multiple games at once during the regular season, added Martin.

A little trash talk may ensue during Sunday’s playoff game, but their son Simon isn’t worried about his parents fighting. Football may divide our family, he said, but “baseball brings us together because we all root for the Giants.”

Martin’s wife, Mollie, grew up in Chico, Calif., and is unapologetic about her 49ers passion. “If you’ve moved here from somewhere else, it’s tough. You can’t let go of your home team.”

But fellow Californian Vanessa Garibaldi did just that when she moved to Seattle with her boyfriend, Kevin Payne, three years ago.

“The 12th Man tactics have worked on me,” said Garibaldi as she showed me a photo of the Space Needle illuminated with green and blue on her iPhone. “Even the bakeries sell green and blue cookies!” When the Seahawks win, everyone is in a better mood, said Garibaldi, and she likes that.

Payne doesn’t hold a grudge against his girlfriend for switching teams. He says the 49ers have a long history and tradition, and even if they lose Sunday, they can still brag about their five Super Bowl championships.

With so many California transplants in the Seattle area, I suspect the number of families made up of Seahawks and 49ers fans is much greater than the few I found. David Kaufer agreed. “We are hiding in the woods,” he told me when I met him and his 8-year-old son Ty. “We blend in very well.”

If you belong to one of those families, you may find the advice from Jason Martin, the guy with the three TV screens, helpful. Whatever happens Sunday, “don’t make it personal, don’t rub it in, just try to have some fun.”

Seahawks fan Vanessa Garibaldi, left, said her boyfriend, Kevin Payne, exemplifies the typical 49er fan who comes from a family with a long history rooting for the team. His grandfather, Thomas Payne, was drafted by the 49ers in the 50s.

Bay Area native David Kaufer isn’t concerned that his children are growing up supporting the Seahawks. It makes sense, he said. “We live here now.”

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