PHOENIX – Just how strong is the Power of the 12s?
The Seahawks were anticipating a crowd of 5,000 for Saturday's 12 Fest in the Desert, and an estimated throng of 25,000 showed up at Chase Field.
The event to celebrate the team playing in Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots on Sunday started at 1:30 p.m. But 12s started lining up outside the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks at 10 a.m. and by noon the line was so long it stretched down the block and across the corner.
Once inside – yes, the roof of the stadium was closed on yet another unseasonably cloudy and drizzly day in the Valley of the Sun – the 12s gobbled up 12 Flags, wristbands, towels and other celebratory souvenirs that were being handed out. There also was music provided by the Walkens and interactive games stationed throughout the infield and outfield.
During the onstage ceremony, Steve Raible, the radio voice of the Seahawks, introduced owner Paul Allen and club president Peter McLoughlin. Also on hands to link the team's impressive present with its past glory were eight members of the Seahawks' Ring of Honor – the Hall of Fame duo of wide receiver Steve Largent and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy; strong safety Kenny Easley, the honorary captain for Sunday's game; quarterbacks Jim Zorn and Dave Krieg; running back Curt Warner; defensive end Jacob Green; and coach Chuck Knox. Cornerback Dave Brown and radio play-by-play man Pete Gross were represented by their widows, Rhonda and Bev.
The only drawback was the wait to get in because of the length of the line. But even the wait turned out to be worth it.
"It was fun," said Gonzalo Ibarra. "Getting in was kind of a hassle, but it was fun. We had lots of fun with the games for the kids. It was family friendly. We enjoyed it."
Ibarra, who was wearing a No. 3 Russell Wilson jersey, attended with his wife, their two sons and their daughter. They now live in Rio Rico, Ariz., but are 12s because they used to live in Bellingham.
"We've followed the Seahawks since we lived in the Pacific Northwest," he said. "We're proud 12s in Cardinal territory."
In the Seahawks.com tradition, were put five of the 12s through the "Look Who's Coming to the Game" – or in this case, the 12 Fest – routine:
From: Originally from Seattle, but now lives in Tempe and San Felipe, Baja California.
Accompanied by: her husband, Steve; and their friends, Alex and Dee Vargas.
Fan since: "Since the day I was born."
Favorite all-time Seahawk: "Steve Largent," she said before the question could even be completed. "I had a major crush on him growing up."
Favorite current Seahawk: "That's a tough one, because they're all so good. But I'd say the Legion of Boom; Marshawn (Lynch), for what he stands for; and Russell Wilson because he carries the whole team. But they're all such a family, it's hard to pick."
Favorite moment from Super Bowl XLVIII: "Percy Harvin's return," she said of the 87-yard kickoff return to open the second half. "I had been holding my breath the whole time. But that's when I thought we were OK."
Favorite moment in franchise history, other than Super Bowl XLVIII: "Richard Sherman's tip," she said of his Immaculate Deflection to ice the 2013 NFC Championship game.
Prediction for Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX: "I think it's going to be a three-point difference, and it's going to be the Seahawks."
From: Denver. Yes, he's a 12 from Bronco territory.
Accompanied by: 12 other members of the Rocky Mountain Seahawkers.
Fan since: "Honestly, since Pete Carroll," he said of Carroll being hired as coach in 2010. "I've been a USC fan forever and we he came over, I came over. I knew this was coming. I already predicted it. We're going to Re-Pete, then Three-Pete."
Favorite all-time Seahawk: Earl Thomas. "Because we're from the same area," he said of the Seahawks' All-Pro free safety, who is from Orange, Texas. Arredondo is from Beaumont.
Favorite current Seahawk: "Earl Thomas, and all of the Legion of Boom."
Favorite moment from Super Bowl XLVIII: "We were in Denver at the Lucky Strike bowling alley and had to have police escorts because the (Bronco) fans were so mad that they actually corralled other Seahawk fans and brought them to Lucky Strike."
Favorite moment in franchise history, other than Super Bowl XLVIII: "Probably the Green Bay game," he said of the Seahawks' miracle comeback in the NFC Championship game two weeks ago. "I was so stressed. I probably had three heart attacks, I was so scared."
Prediction for Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX: "34-21, Seahawks."
Accompanied by: his wife, Melodie.
Fan since: "Since '76. There was a raffle in '76 to see if you could guess how many quarters could fit in a football. My mom won it and she got a football signed by all the original Seahawks."
Favorite all-time Seahawk: "That's hard. Real hard. I don't know."
Favorite current Seahawk: Marshawn Lynch. "I like him a lot. For the obvious reasons," he said of the Seahawks' Beast Mode running back.
Favorite moment from Super Bowl XLVIII: "The beginning. The safety," he said of snap sailing past Broncos QB Peyton Manning on the first play of the game. "And then it just kept going. I was pretty much in awe the whole game. As soon as it was over, I watched it again."
Favorite moment in franchise history, other than Super Bowl XLVIII: "The NFC Championship game against the Packers. Unreal."
Prediction for Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX: "27-20, Seahawks."
From: Bellevue. "I bought my ticket to come to this game two months ago. And my boyfriend got the tickets. He pulled it off."
Accompanied by: her boyfriend, Neal Slotcig.
Fan since: "For about five years, which is when I started liking football."
Favorite all-time Seahawk: Marshawn Lynch. "I just like how he gets so much (flak) and just takes it."
Favorite current Seahawk: Marshawn Lynch. "He's such a Beast."
Favorite moment from Super Bowl XLVIII: "Right at the beginning," she said of the first-play safety.
Favorite moment in franchise history, other than Super Bowl XLVIII: "The last game," she said of the overtime victory over the Packers in the NFC Championship game. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm not going to Arizona.' And then we did it. And here I am."
Prediction for Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX: "We're obviously winning. We're going to win by 10."
From: Lake Stevens
Accompanied by: his wife, Sharol.
Fan since: "Since 1980."
Favorite all-time Seahawk: Kam Chancellor. "I just love how he plays. He's a phenomenal player," he said of the All-Pro strong safety.
Favorite current Seahawk: Kam Chancellor.
Favorite moment from Super Bowl XLVIII: "Just watching Pete Carroll on the sideline. The excitement. Totally excited."
Favorite moment in franchise history, other than Super Bowl XLVIII: "The last game," he said of the NFC Championship game. "You just don't stop believing in these guys. You've got to believe in them. They've got heart."
Prediction for Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX: "The Seahawks will win by 13."