October 24, 2012
Going Behind Enemy Lines (Again)
I always get a bit squirmy when I hear Twelves get pissed off about fans of opposing teams taking up seats at Seahawks Stadium. It's not that I LIKE it when enemy fans infest our stadium- Shit, I'll boo them when they start making a racket like anyone else would- It's just that as someone who has been to plenty of Seahawks road games, I want to avoid being a giant fucking hypocrite. I view it as something akin to diplomatic immunity: Yeah, it sucks that foreign diplomats rack up huge parking fines when they are over here, but we don't want our diplomats overseas getting fucked with- Hooray for reciprocity!
On Sunday, I'll attend my 10th Seahawks road game (and my 2nd at Ford Field in Detroit), and I gotta admit it: I LOVE being the "bad guy." I love being part of a tiny, outnumbered group of hard-core partisans- I'm a contrarian fucker at heart, so rooting for my teams in hostile territory really suites me well. The flip side of this is that I also love rooting for my Red Sox at Safeco, and I plan to catch a Columbus Crew game at Royal Brougham Park the first chance I get... But that's a discussion for another time.
I have a routine I tend to adhere to at these games, and a fairly simple set of rules. I like to get there when the gates open so I can get down to the Seahawks tunnel and see the players and coaches up close. This is what I wrote about that experience at Cleveland a year ago:
The Awesome stuff? I got to weasel my way down to the Seahawks tunnel, and the Hawks seemed way more interested in coming over and talking to us fans in Cleveland than they seem to be back at home games. I don't blame them- I want them focused and ready for battle... but it really seemed to excite them to see so many Seahawks fans come out to support them. I got to shake hands with and monosyllabic-ally talk at Sidney Rice and Pete Carroll, but the COOLEST moment was when Earl Thomas noticed I was wearing his jersey. His eyes lit up, he ran over and gave me an ENTHUSIASTIC handshake (almost to the point of hurting me). I was just overwhelmed by the experience. Seriously, if you are a Seahawks fan, find a way to get down to the tunnel during warm-ups... It can be mind-blowing.
I also have my own personal rules of contact as a road fan:
-No booing or jeering the other team, just cheering for the Seahawks.
-Don't start shit with opposing fans, but if you have to defend yourself, outsmart them.
I actually stumbled upon a great self-defense strategy at the Cleveland game last year: Sitting in the Family/No alcohol section. Compared to my previous experiences at Cleveland Browns Stadium, I was relatively unmolested sitting in that area last year. As long as I didn't curse around the kids, it was like being surrounded by little human shields- One dude a section over even yelled "If you weren't in the family section, I'd kick your ass." I yelled back "Thank you for validating my decision to sit here!" I'm doing the same thing Sunday up in Detroit. I guess this strategy wouldn't work if you really LOVE getting blitzed at games and letting off long strings of public profanities... But I doubt that many readers of this blog are part of that demographic.
Like I said, this will be my 2nd game in Detroit. Back in 2006 I saw the Hawks win 9-6 (yawn) on a Josh Brown FG as time expired. The environment was fairly sedate for a couple of reasons: First, Ford Field is a deeply odd NFL venue that doesn't give its tenants a big home field advantage. You know how the stands at Seahawks Stadium are RIGHT ON TOP OF the field? Not in Detroit, dude. The field feels miles away from the stands in Ford Field. Second, the Lions were fucking abysmal back then- The stadium was far from full, and the fans that did show up seemed more interested in getting hammered than the action down on the field.
I expect a similar dynamic Sunday, but for different reasons. The Lions' disappointing start won't help, but the bigger factor will be distraction- The Tigers will be playing in Game 4 of the World Series across the street just hours after the Seahawks/Lions game. From experience, we know Rams fans in STL have been particularly distracted/quiet/absent during Cardinals' playoff runs (to the Seahawks' benefit). Hopefully we'll see the same situation on Sunday in Detroit.
What about everyone else? What are your experiences at Seahawks road games? In my experience (going to games at CLE, IND, CIN, NO, DET, STL) Cleveland was by far the WORST place to watch the Seahawks, and St. Louis was the best (in terms of not getting harassed/made to feel like I was in actual physical danger). Anyone else going to the game Sunday? If so, hunt me down- I'll be in a new-school blue Nike Marshawn Lynch jersey (no beard though), and I'll probably be down by the Seahawks tunnel during all the pre-game stuff.
Hope to see you there!