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Talk about your Super sendoffs.
As the buses carrying the Seahawks to the airport for their flight to Newark left Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Sunday morning, some 150 fans and 200 Vulcan employees were on hand to shout, wave, holler and show their support for their team – the NFC Champions, who will play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII next Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
When the buses were making their way from Seahawks Way to the onramp to I-405, twice that many more fans were lining the road and the buses also passed under the water arch supplied by a fire truck.
But that was just the warm-up act. As the buses left I-5 and headed toward SeaTac airport, cars of cheering fans lined the off ramp. Once the buses hit 188th, they traveled through a gauntlet comprised of thousands for fans – both sides of the street, in street, seemingly part of the street – all the way to the airport.
“That was an unbelievable feeling,” said wide receiver Doug Baldwin, just one of the many players who were videoing the surreal experience. “I’ve never been so overwhelmed in my life, with just the emotional support.
“Pretty much everybody who’s been to a game this year was out there on the street sending us off.”
And the multitudes were wearing their Seahawks Sunday best. Jerseys ranged from the current – Russell Wilson (3), Earl Thomas (29), Richard Sherman (25), Lynch (24), Golden Tate (81), Baldwin (89), Chris Maragos (42), Jermaine Kearse (15), Red Bryant (79), Chris Clemons (91) and Michael Robinson (26); to the retro – Hall of Famers Steve Largent (80) and Cortez Kennedy (96); to the in between – Matt Hasselbeck (8) and Lofa Tatupu (51), members of the 2005 Super Bowl team; to the obvious – a sea of 12’s.
Fans already were gathering at VMAC at 8 a.m., when the temperature was in the low 30’s and a thick fog was rolling off Lake Washington. Among them were Mike and Kendra Hughes, their sons – Cyler, 5, and Daden, 16 months; and Mike’s best friend, Kyle Grubbs. Kendra Hughes had been up since 5:30, getting her boys ready to brave the cold and cheer on the team.
This has been a special season, and will end with an appearance in the most-special game of the season. Mike Hughes could sense this coming long before the Seahawks wrapped up the NFC West title with their victory over the St. Louis Rams in their regular-season finale or last Sunday’s win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
“This seems different from 2005,” Hughes said, referring to the only other time the Seahawks have played in the Super Bowl – when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL in Detroit. “This seems more like a dynasty than anything, like this could be something great. And just run with it.
“Everything about this season just seems awesome. It just seems like electricity. Everybody on the team is buying into everybody. They’ve all got each other’s back and they’re not going to let anything bad happen. So it’s just different.”
Grubbs was harboring the same heightened expectations that have been attached to the Seahawks since before the players ever had their first team meeting with coach Pete Carroll in April.
“We’re going to win this thing,” he said. “It just feels that way.”
Added Hughes, “Don’t get me wrong. I love the ’05 team. That team didn’t really have a leader like this team has in Russell (Wilson). (Matt) Hasselbeck was a leader, but not like how Russell is. Not like how (Richard) Sherman is. Not like how Earl Thomas is.
“This team has been special from the start.”
Good point. In their first two regular-season games way back in September, the Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers on the road and the 49ers in their home opener. Those teams met in the other divisional playoff game, after the Panthers had gone 12-4 to win the NFC South and the 49ers had the same record in the regular season to earn the top wild-card spot in the playoffs.
In August, the Seahawks went undefeated in the preseason, including a 40-10 victory over the Broncos. They also were unbeaten in the 2012 preseason. So over the past two seasons – preseason, regular season, postseason – the Seahawks are 35-9.
Super stuff, indeed.
“I can’t soak it up enough,” Baldwin said, shaking his head. “We couldn’t even get through the streets there were so many people.”