By Jim Gibbons
Even before Super Bowl XLVIII was over, my 13-year old son, Ian, was lobbying hard to attend the celebratory parade to personally say thank you to his team.
Early Wednesday morning, I thought the cold weather and a two-hour drive might deter him. I even suggested we go skiing instead. He wasn’t having any of it.
As we were leaving, he was dressed in his No. 3 Russell Wilson jersey and carrying his football. I tossed him a Sharpie, and said “You never know.” We jumped into the car with my daughter’s boyfriend, Buck, and drove toward Seattle.
The ride was as long as we thought it would be. The cold and crowds were worse.
We ended up on Seneca Street, across the street from the Seattle Central Library. Sidewalks were wider than most along Fourth Avenue, but we still were about 25 rows back. Ian, barely over 5 feet tall, couldn’t see a thing. After almost two hours of standing in the cold, the parade neared, and I agreed to let Ian move to the front. We’d meet him at a nearby signpost.
Seahawks players were bundled up and hard to recognize. Still, we spotted Marshawn Lynch near the front of the parade, wearing a ski mask and tossing Skittles to fans. Earl Thomas, all dressed in white, had climbed into the cab of a truck to get warm. No one could miss Richard Sherman’s smile and hair. There were lots of cheers and smiles.
As soon as the parade passed, we quickly found Ian and hurried to our car to beat the traffic.
After about 20 minutes, Ian passed his football to Buck and asked if he recognized the lone signature he’d managed to get.
Ian then began to tell his story. He had made it to the front row and only 3 or 4 feet separated him from the players as they passed. But each time he tried to pass his ball to a player, police stopped him.
Still, like the Seahawks, he persisted. When one player’s vehicle stopped right in front of him, Ian held up his football in one hand and the Sharpie in the other, and gave a big smile to “some guy in a blue coat with a big collar, and wearing a hat and sun glasses.” The guy smiled back and reached down for the football and the pen.
As Ian finished his story, we realized there was a No. 3 in the signature. We quickly checked pictures of the parade on the Web, and realized that Russell Wilson was wearing a puffy blue jacket. The signature on Ian’s ball was Russell Wilson’s!
“That’s so cool!” Ian said.
Like many fans, Ian will remember the day and the season for the rest of his life. Russell Wilson’s extra effort for my son made it even more special for him. Ian still can’t quite believe what happened, and the treasured ball is placed in a stand next to his bed.
So here’s a big thank you to the Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks. And an especially big thank you to Russell Wilson, a man with a big heart for children and their dreams.
Jim Gibbons lives in Olympia and farms geoduck clams in South Puget Sound. He has been a Seahawks fan for more than 30 years.
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