Sports

Sidelines: Why are the Seahawks so popular this season? Thank Facebook

The Seattle Seahawks will take on the Denver Broncos at the Super Bowl Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.  - Courtesy photo
The Seattle Seahawks will take on the Denver Broncos at the Super Bowl Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

It really hasn’t been that long since the Seattle Seahawks made their first and only appearance in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks rolled to a 13-3 record during the regular season in 2005 before taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl in February of 2006.

But this year has a very different feel than it did back in 2006. Which begs the question — Why?

Now, I’m not talking about the hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool Seahawks fans. Those crazies have been around since Jack Patera was coaching Jim Zorn and Steve Largent inside the Kingdome. These are the fans who suffered through the days of Rick Mirer, Kelly Stouffer and Dan McGwire, among others, and continued to buy season tickets every year.

I’m talking about the non-sports fans around Seattle, who seem to have come out of the woodwork, snatching up every Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson replica team jersey ever printed.

I’m talking about the housewives, who couldn’t even tell you what the abbreviation NFL actually stands for. I’m talking about the nerd that is some type of computer programmer at Microsoft, whose only experience playing a sport came in front of his Xbox Kinect, swinging a remote control that is supposed to be a tennis racquet.

These are now the people who are the most ardent Seahawks supporters, which is awesome.

The minivans, Suburbans and Toyota Corollas, which used to have “Soccer Mom,” “Geek” and “Baby On Board” stickers plastered on the back window, now have the Seahawks’ 12th Man flag flying proudly.

You literally cannot go anywhere in the Puget Sound area without being inundated with the Seattle Seahawks and it’s absolutely great. The support the team has received this season is amazing and a big factor in pushing the Seahawks into the Super Bowl.

I just don’t remember the same amount of fan fervor during the team’s last appearance ending with a devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers after some controversial calls by the referees in February 2006. Am I missing something?

Every business you walk into around Federal Way has some type of Seahawks memorabilia displayed. And you can’t go to the bank, grocery store or work without somebody asking you about your plans for the Super Bowl or what you thought about the win over San Francisco on Sunday.

It’s Seattle Seahawks mania and their run has had a humungous boost on the local economy, as well as civic pride.

As an aside, wasn’t there talk by some politician when the Seattle SuperSonics left town that professional sports don’t add any cultural value to a city? I wonder what is going through that guy’s head now watching the Pacific Northwest beam in the glow of the Seahawks?

So, what is the difference in popularity between the 2006 Super Bowl and the 2014 Super Bowl? The answer is actually pretty easy — social media is the difference.

The immense pride in this year’s Seahawks with the usual non-sports fan has everything to do with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Social media is giving everyone, and I mean everyone, a chance to be a Seattle Seahawks fan.

All the social media wasn’t anything close to as popular as it is now during the Seahawks’ run to their first Super Bowl. Facebook was in its infancy and Twitter and Instagram weren’t even launched.

Using my Facebook page as an example, the last few weeks have been dominated by posts regarding the Seahawks and their march toward the Super Bowl. I can’t tell you have many photos I have seen of Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ logo and the 12th Man flag.

But all this Seahawks stuff isn’t being posted by my football-loving buddies. These are posts from my football-loving buddies’ wives.

The Seahawks’ Facebook page currently has 1.5 million followers and its Twitter feed has well over 400,000 followers and rising everyday.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a guy like Russell Wilson as the face of your franchise. The quarterback is too good to be true. While a lot of professional athletes, fair or unfair, have been raked over the coals for being bad dudes, Wilson does everything right.

It’s been well documented that he and his wife go to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital every Tuesday to visit sick kids.

“It is really rare for somebody, especially with his schedule, to do that,” said Eve Knopp, the director of corporate giving at Children’s Hospital. “Even for just a regular person, it’s hard to make that commitment and stick to it.”

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Wilson decided during his junior year to start a football camp that helps inner-city youth.  With just two years of NFL experience under his belt, the Russell Wilson Passing Academy is now in seven cities.

“Basically, I’ll meet 1,400 kids,” Wilson said last summer. “If I can change one of those kids’ lives, inspire one of those kids, that makes the difference and goes a long way.”

Even housewives and Microsoft nerds can get behind a guy like Wilson.

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