By Rod Tucker
Rod Tucker, 44, is a financial adviser at RBC Wealth Management in Kirkland. The longtime Seahawks and Seattle sports fan lives in Kirkland with his wife and three sons.
You could have heard a pin drop in the Kingdome on that fateful September day in 1984 when Curt Warner, our electrifying second-year running back out of Penn State, went down with a season-ending injury early in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns. I was one month away from turning 16 years old and still remember how sick I felt as I watched our star taken off the field.
The Seahawks were coming off an incredible run to the AFC Championship Game and the anticipation of a possible run to the Super Bowl had infected every Seahawks fan from Anchorage to Medford. Fortunately, the team came together without one of its biggest stars, and 1984 turned out to be one of the most memorable years in Seahawks history. A big part of that success, I truly believe, came from the intimidating noise and energy created by the fans. We learned that year more than any other that we could make a difference, that we could actually have an impact on the outcome of the game – and that we could have a darn good time doing it.
In the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the hated Oakland Raiders later that year, I’ll never forget trying, unsuccessfully, to have a conversation with my friend sitting next to me. After a few attempts to hear what each other was saying, we simply raised our palms, shrugged our shoulders, shook our heads and smiled at the realization that it was just too loud to attempt to hear the person next to you.
Instead of talking, we simply turned our attention back to yelling at the top of our lungs, helping make life miserable for Raiders quarterback Marc Wilson. The powerful Raiders’ offense was inept that day. The ear-splitting crowd noise, without a doubt, was a major factor in that 13-7 playoff win.
During winter meetings in 1989, the NFL made a feeble attempt to introduce a penalty against the home team for excessive crowd noise. That year, during a home game against John Elway and the Denver Broncos, the Kingdome crowd was so loud that poor John couldn’t hear. He complained to the refs, and they threw the flag. The 5-yard penalty against the Seahawks did nothing but ignite the crowd even more, drawing another 5-yard penalty. After three consecutive flags, and 5-yard penalties, each prompting even more ear-drum popping noise, the refs gave Elway the “play on, we’re only making this worse” signal as he raised his hands in a show of helplessness. I wish the Guinness Book of World Records folks would have been at that game to measure the decibel level. I’m certain the record would still stand today.
We Seahawk fans have always embraced our special talent for creating noise and are lucky to have an owner who influenced the design of our new outdoor stadium to help ensure that our efforts would continue to resonate. As a long-time season-ticket holder who has spent many a fall Monday trying to explain my hoarse voice, I must say the 1980s crowds would blow today’s fans off the field. I long for the days when everybody participated. Today, unfortunately, too many “fans”, mostly in certain high priced sections, feel only the obligation to provide a little golf clap as the rest of the crowd strains their vocal chords. Pay attention to those sections the next time you’re at a game. Many won’t stand and cheer during key third downs. Many are there to take in the spectacle of the awesome crowd noise, but won’t actually participate themselves. Imagine how loud CenturyLink Field could be if EVERYONE actually joined in. That, once again, could be a real difference maker.
Don’t just make it difficult for the other team to hear. Make it difficult for the other team to think! Epic crowd noise has happened on a handful of occasions in the last few years (2005 NFC Championship, The Beast Quake, etc.) but this year it needs to happen more. This year the Seahawks have the pieces in place to make a memorable run. The 12th Man needs to recognize this and, as training camp kicks off, begin her or her own vocal exercise routine. As Russell Wilson would say, there is no substitute for preparation.
This year, before (not during) the Hawks’ home opener against the 49ers, the Guinness Book of World Records will be there to measure the noise to determine if we’re loud enough to break the record. My vote, if I had one, would be to wait until the first 49er possession of the game, so the record could be real, not fabricated. By attempting to break the record while many are still settling into their seats and sipping on their first beer, we risk coming up short.
In the end, however, the record attempt is insignificant. The only record that really matters is the win-loss record when the game is over. Do your part, 12th Man. Encourage your seatmates. Encourage your section. Yell, when the other team has the ball, like you can make a difference.
If enough of you do yell, you will.
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