Focus on: The berm

Posted Aug 13, 2014

After being packed by 31,545 12th Man fans during the 12 practices that were open to the public at the Seahawks’ Training Camp presented by Bing, the berm is back to just being a grassy knoll that overlooks the practice fields.

They came by the busloads, wearing their Seahawks jerseys and T-shirts and in full roar.

Over the 12 practices at the team’s Training Camp presented by Bing that were open to the public, 31,545 12th Man fans rekindled their love affair with the team and its players from the berm that overlooks the practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

It just won’t be the same on Wednesday morning, when the players hold their final practice before camp breaks.

“It’s just one of those love affairs that you almost want to leave your wife for,” defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. “It’s fun. It just keeps going and going and going. And the fans just make it so much better to come out there; it makes it easier to practice.”

On a morning when you’re maybe not feeling it as fully as you should, the fans were there to coax the efforts out of you and cheer your every step.

“It gives you the game time feeling with all the fans and the noise level and the excitement they bring and expect from us,” Bennett said. “It’s just one of those fun things.”

The 12s were out in full force all of last season, when the Seahawks captured the first Super Bowl title in franchise history. They were there for the home games at CenturyLink Field, where they broke the Guinness Book of World Records mark for loudest crowd cheer twice. They weren’t just there for road games in Carolina, Arizona, St. Louis, Atlanta, San Francisco and New York, as well as Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, they were there to help send the team off and then welcome them home.

It happened again last Friday morning – in the wee hours of Friday morning – when the team returned to VMAC at 3 a.m. after losing its preseason opener to the Broncos in Denver.

“That support and love for us, regardless of what we do, is going to push us even further because we don’t want to let our fans down,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “We love the fact that we have such great support here in Seattle, but also around the world.

“I get Twitter pictures of 12s in London and all over the world. It’s amazing because we feel like we’re a part of something that is much bigger than what is just here in Seattle.”

And that is big, after a crowd estimated at 700,000 clogged the streets of Seattle for the team’s Celebration Parade three days after the victory in the Super Bowl.

“The following from the 12s has been so consistent for years,” said Pete Carroll, who is in his fifth season as coach. “Throughout this last season, the offseason and all the way through now to kick us off here, they’ve been right with us every step. It’s been so much fun to share it with them.

“They’ve got such tremendous heart and connection. Every little thing we can give them, they’re loving. Hopefully we can give a real good start to the (home) season here this weekend and just start this relationship for this year. It’s been great. It’s a blast.”

Carroll paused momentarily before adding, “We’d like to have them here every day.”

That’s because Carroll likes to make practice as much like a game atmosphere as possible, and the 12s have played into that over the past three weeks at VMAC.

“When you come out here, it’s like you’re performing at a game,” Baldwin said. “You’ve got the fans out there watching and you want to perform well in front of the fans. But also you want to give them a glimpse of what we can do during the season.

“We want to give them something to look forward to. So when they’re out here and enjoying it, we want to put on a show for them.”