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12th Man: Savor this moment at the top | EDITOR'S NOTE
So it is the Wednesday after the Super Bowl and we at the Renton Reporter are chained to our desks getting this week’s paper finished and are therefore not able to attend the big victory parade.
I hope all of you who were able to go took the day off and made your way to Seattle to cheer on your World Champions as they made their way down Fourth Avenue to the stadiums. I am sure it is a day you will never forget.
As I have said before, I am a Philadelphia sports fan (by the way, the Seahawks, who entered the league in 1976, now have one more Lombardi Trophy than my beloved Eagles, who have been in the NFL since prior to the Super Bowl era). I know what a championship drought feels like and I know the relief a title can bring to the psyche of a city and a long-suffering sports fan.
When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, it broke a 25-year title drought in the City of Brotherly Love, the longest drought (at the time) for any city with four major sports franchises.
Prior to 2008, the last championship in Philadelphia was, like Seattle, an NBA title, won in 1983 by the 76ers. Needless to say, when Brad Lidge completed his perfect season by striking out Eric Heinske and then dropped to his knees to celebrate, Philly exploded.
My phone lit up with calls from Philly and I answered with a scream that joined the one already in progress on the other end. Needless to say, cars were lit on fire that night.
Because on the East Coast, we don’t wait for the “walk” sign to celebrate, like they did Sunday night in Ballard.
Like in Seattle, the parade was immediately scheduled. It would be Friday at noon. In Philly, of course.
The Phils won Wednesday night and in the course of talking to friends back in Philly, one of them offered to help pay my way so I could be there. My cousin also got tickets to the party at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles and located next to the baseball stadium in the same way Safeco sits next to the Clink.
The Linc, like Safeco this week, was the overflow stadium.
On Thursday afternoon, I bought my plane ticket. On Thursday night, I took the red eye out of Seattle, landing in Philly at 11:30 a.m. Friday morning.
A quick cab ride to my buddy’s place and a celebratory shot of whiskey later, we were running through the streets of Philadelphia, on our way to catch up with the parade and make our way to the stadiums.
The streets were packed. Two million people showed up and lined the parade route. And everybody was in a great mood. It was the biggest, best party I have ever attended.
We high-fived with random drivers trying to make their way through the packed side streets. We hugged complete strangers and danced in the streets with people we had never met. We cheered the team as they went by, waving and hoisting the trophy for all of us to see.
When we met up with my cousins, there were hugs and tears and the sense that a giant loser weight was finally off our backs. We had done it. WE. Not just the guys wearing the uniforms but all of us. Phillies fans everywhere had won this title. It belonged to all of us.
It was, quite honestly, the greatest day of my life (until my wedding day, of course. But it still sits a relatively close second.). I will never forget it.
I hope all of you had the opportunity to have the same experience this week. The crowd may not have been as big as the one in Philadelphia that day, but the bond between team and fans are even stronger here than it was then.
Seahawks fans are some of the best in the world and there is no doubt that the support – and noise – of the 12th Man helped carry this team to victory. Even Pete Carroll noted it in the locker-room celebration following the game. As he was calling out individuals and highlighting great performances, Carroll also talked of the 12th Man and their role, prompting a cheer from the whole team.
Savor this, Seattle. Do not take it for granted and do not assume that because your team is young and hot and seemingly unbeatable that this will be a regular thing.
Trust me, winning is hard, but repeating is even tougher. Despite the Phils having all those things, we still are waiting for that follow-up parade.
But you can bet that when it does happen, whether it’s next year or – God forbid – another 25, I will not miss the chance to celebrate with millions of my closest friends.
Congratulations 12th Man. You waited a long time for this and you earned it.
And thank you, Seahawks. This was a season this city will never forget.