Seahawks 12th Man increasingly taking over opposing stadiums
When you watch the Seahawks play on the road this season, the 12th Man seems as loud or louder than the hometown faithful. And you can count long-time season ticket holder Ben Williams among them.
Williams and his wife, Jennifer, have been hardcore Hawks fans since he was first stationed at NAS Whidbey Island in the early 90s.
“The first NFL game game I went to was a Seahawks game and I’ve been a fan ever since,” he says.
Soon after, he got on the waiting list for season tickets and jumped at the chance when he got the call several years later, even though he was stationed in San Diego at the time.
“I got the tickets knowing I would eventually move back to Seattle. So as soon as I got the tickets, I was holding on to them.”
Since then, Williams has traveled to as many games as possible, both home and away. He’s currently stationed in Norfolk, Va. but still managed to get to Carolina and Atlanta, as well as flying to Seattle for the Seahawks home opener against San Francisco.
Williams admits it’s an expensive hobby and he says not having kids helps make it possible.
“And luckily, my wife is as big, if not a bigger Seahawks fan than I am, so that helps,” he laughs.
So what’s it like being a 12th Man in enemy territory? Williams says it was pretty awesome drowning out the demoralized Atlanta fans Sunday in the Georgia Dome as the Seattle took command of the game.
“Near the third quarter, we started the Seahawk chant. It felt really good, but not just that, there were just so many fans.”
Hundreds, if not thousands of Seahawks fans have been making their presence known at road games this season. They were particularly loud in Atlanta throughout Sunday’s game, and nearly drowned out the announcers following the nationally televised Thursday night game in Arizona.
“I’m frankly still in shock how many people we had in Atlanta Sunday,” says Tansey Allen, founder of the Seahawks Road Crew. She leads the effort to organize fan events at opposing stadiums.
The Port Angeles native started getting fans together back in 2007, after moving to Los Angeles and feeling lonely as a 12.
“You feel like you’re the only 12 wherever you are,” she says. “One day we bought out a whole row of seats in San Diego.”
The 12’s started chanting so loud, some players turned around and encouraged them to get louder. The Seahawks scored soon after.
“That day changed my life. That was the day I knew I needed to get more fans on the road.”
Now, she organizes bar takeovers and tailgate parties wherever the Seahawks play.
And the fans come from all over.
Williams says it’s amazing when they gather at a local sports bar before the game, like they did Saturday in Atlanta.
“It was packed wall to wall with 12’s. So we all met up there for Saturday and hung out for several hours mostly just talking about where you came from: ‘oh hey you’re from Arizona? You came from Seattle, Alabama, Tennessee?’ I mean they were just flocking in,” he says.
Allen says the turnout over the weekend in Atlanta was probably the biggest ever.
“There were thousands of Seahawks fans. Even the bar we took over, they told me their capacity is about 950. And we had that place packed.”
So what makes this year so special?
“I think it’s so easy to get behind Russell Wilson and the leadership of this team. We have a fan base that really considers each other family. It’s something you don’t forget that you did when you travel with them and help them win,” Allen says.
Williams tries to plan his trips well in advance. But with his ever-changing military schedule, sometimes it’s a last minute decision. He and Jennifer just decided, last Wednesday, to jump in the car and make the 9 1/2 hour drive from Norfolk to Atlanta.
He plans to fly to at least a few more games this year, depending on his work schedule. But he’s certain he’ll be at one game if the Hawks get there: the Super Bowl.
“I’m hoping to get the opportunity to buy tickets as a season ticket holder from the Seahawks. If they get there, it’s going to be a done deal.”
It’ll certainly be a done deal for Williams. She’s already made plans for the Seahawks regular season visit to New York to take on the Giants at the same stadium where the Super Bowl will be played Feb. 2. As an added bonus, that day just happens to be her birthday as well.
“How amazing would that be?” She says. “I’m crossing my fingers that’s going to happen.”
So are a lot of other 12’s who just might have to add “road warrior” to their titles.