September 16, 2013 at 11:35 AM
Seahawks fans: Feeling the full-throated roar of the 12th Man
By Ed Guzman
Ed Guzman, a native of Southern California and a graduate of Stanford University, is an assistant sports editor at The Seattle Times. He arrived from The Washington Post in March, and lives with his wife and two sons in Green Lake. He previously worked at The New York Times and The Oregonian.
The one thing I get asked the most when people find out I’m an editor in sports goes something like this:
“So, you get to go to games for free?”
For the longest time, it was an awkward question. Most people, especially sports fans, meant well. But it always felt like there was never a full grasp of what I did exactly. Since I wasn’t a reporter, my name wasn’t showing up in the newspaper or on the website. I was behind the scenes, reading stories, writing headlines, making sure our report looked good in its various forms. It was an interesting, but fairly anonymous, job.
And the fact was, in previous stops at The New York Times and The Washington Post, I was always one of the editors at the office. So no, I wasn’t going to games for free.
That changed when I came to Seattle. Sometime shortly after I arrived in March, my boss Don Shelton broached the subject of me serving as an on-site editor for Seahawks home games this season. The idea is to be there to offer guidance to our reporters and columnists on things like deadlines, subjects that they’d be writing about and being in constant contact with editors in the office. Also, I would chip in and help where I could, especially once deadline came near.
So I would finally get the chance to see CenturyLink up close during a Seahawks game. And it would have been one thing if it was a 1 p.m. kickoff against a run-of-the-mill opponent. But the home opener was against the 49ers on “Sunday Night Football.” You know, The Biggest Game Ever that we and many, many others had hyped for several months.
I grew up in L.A., a city which lost its NFL teams after the 1994 season, so I’ve gravitated to the other major sports since then. But I’ve always understood and appreciated the importance of the NFL in markets that have a team. In Washington, every other sports team was playing for a distant second behind the Redskins. I always jokingly said that for about half the year, I lived in Dillon, Texas (the fictional town in the TV show “Friday Night Lights”), though Mike Shanahan is no Coach Taylor.
Yes, a team can have an intense grip on a region. And for Seattle, in this Seahawks season, it’s only magnified. That was apparent on Sunday, even walking up to the stadium.
Once the game started, there was no letting up on the part of Seahawks fans. Though we were in an enclosed portion of the press box and thus couldn’t feel the full sonic impact, the press box shook many times throughout the game. I don’t think they needed the incentive of a Guinness World Record to be as raucous as they were; the 49ers were incentive enough.
Even when the weather delay occurred, the fans made themselves heard. They put NBC’s coverage on the big screens in the stadium and when commentator Cris Collinsworth expressed skepticism over how loud the fans would be when play resumed, the boos were loud and clear. And when NBC flashed 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on the screen… well, you can probably guess how that went over.
The beauty of the NFL schedule is that because there’s only 16 games in the regular season, every single game is an event. Mix in a home-field advantage like the one in Seattle, and CenturyLink suddenly becomes the place to be seen — and heard.
So the next time I get asked about going to games for my job, I can now answer in the affirmative. And I’m looking forward to it all season long. Even next Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.
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