In August, the NFL launched its ‘Fan of the Year’ program. The mission was to recognize the passion and constant support from fans across the country, with all 32 of the league's teams ultimately honoring one superfan who has "a special affinity for their local team, provides inspiration to others and showcase[s] how football unites their family, friends and local communities," according to the NFL's press release at the time.
In the time since, 12s and NFL fans everywhere had the chance to nominate the person who they thought had the largest positive influence on their community and inspired others through their love of football. The 32 fans chosen will get to participate in a virtual Q&A with NFL legend Cris Carter on November 11. Eventually the group will be whittled down to three by a league panel. Those three finalists will win a trip to Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, where the NFL Fan of the Year will be named.
The NFL collected nearly 33,000 submissions for its Fan of the Year competition, and Seahawks fans made their voices heard, accounting for the fifth-most submissions in the league with over 1,800. Patti Hammond, known to 12s as 'Mama Blue,' was nominated as our Fan of the Year after a committee of 12 Seahawks staff members reviewed the submissions and voted on the winner.
Hammond has been an extremely passionate football fan for decades. She's been a Seahawks season ticket holder since our inaugural season in 1976. You've probably seen her decked out in blue, with her signature blue wig and her sparkly blue and green glasses. Her fandom even earned her a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — yes, the one in Canton — in 1999, and she was the first fan to ever raise the 12 Flag at a Hawks home game in 2007. She’s been referred to as “the Grande Dame of the Seahawks superfans," a title that frankly makes her sound overqualified to be the Fan of the Year.
"The passion, energy and fun Patti has brought to Seahawks gamedays for decades is unmatched," Jeff Richards, Seahawks VP of Marketing and Community Engagement, said. "Mama Blue has inspired countless 12s and Seahawks players alike through the years and has helped define what it means to be a Seahawks fan as much as anyone else has. Patti is truly one of a kind."
Recently, Hammond was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. In part, this honor is meant to show our support for her during this trying time as she has so passionately done for our team for the past 40-plus years.
While Hammond's cancer was caught early and is treatable, her fixed income makes it hard to keep up with medical bills that are steadily adding up. Fanz4Good (formerly 12s Helping 12s) has set up a fund to which fans can donate to support Hammond in her fight against cancer. 100% of the money raised goes toward helping Hammond. Click here to donate and learn more about the cause.
Hammond represents an era of Seahawks fans that predates CenturyLink Field, perennial playoff contention, and any idea of the "12s". When she first bought season tickets for the 1976 season for her and her husband Dick, she admittedly didn't know much about the game.
"I was a cheerleader in high school, he was a football player at Roosevelt – and you know, we loved football," she told MyNorthwest in 2014. "I didn't understand it but I said oh well!"
But over time, her presence became a staple at the Kingdome.
"Year one, we were kind of just feeling our way, it's kind of like, 'What do we do?'" she said last year. "But I cheered, obviously. I made a lot of noise, obviously.
"You don't go to a football game to sit there and knit, you know? You better be there ready to yell for your team or stay home."
Legendary Seahawks safety Kenny Easley gave Hammond a shoutout during his Hall of Fame speech in 2017, recognizing her participation in "the wave" at the Kingdome (fun fact: the wave is actually rumored to have been created at a University of Washington football game in Seattle in 1981). "Mama Blue, I know you're out there somewhere," Easley said. "You were a part of something back in the '70s and the '80s called 'the wave.' Well, I'm going to ask you a favor. I'll be in Seattle on October the 1st for the Seahawks-Colts game, and I'd like to see the wave performed just one more time for all the guys that played in the '70s and '80s. Can you do that for a brother?"
Team president Chuck Arnold called Hammond at her home this morning, asking her to look outside. As she did, a plane flew overhead with a banner in tow, reading "MAMA BLUE IS SEAHAWKS FAN OF THE YEAR!" Quite the surprise for a quiet Friday morning.
After flying over Hammond's home, the plane made its way to downtown Seattle, passing the VMAC, Space Needle and CenturyLink Field on its path, making sure Seahawks fans throughout the city could see the good news.
Mama Blue's phone was more of a "Who's Who" of the Seahawks franchise throughout the rest of the morning. In addition to Arnold, several Seahawks Legends called or sent text messages to wish one of their favorite 12s well and congratulate her on the selection, including Jim Zorn, Jacob Green, Curt Warner and Dave Krieg, just to name a few.
Hammond will receive a gift box with Fan of the Year gear and other memorabilia in recognition of the award. If she is one of the three finalists selected by the league panel later this season, she will also win a trip to Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, where she very well could be cheering on her hometown Seahawks. For now, she'll watch from home with the same optimistic spirit she had all the way back in 1976.
"If you're here only to see them win and not behind them when they lose, then you're not a fan" Hammond said in last year’s interview. "Do you know how many games I sat through at the Kingdome that we didn't win? Quite a few. But that's okay.
"Dave Krieg always said, 'Don't leave yet! They're going to win!' I said, 'Well, you've got to believe.' If you don't believe then what's the point in being there, right?"
The Seahawks selected Patti 'Mama Blue' Hammond as the 2020 Fan of the Year, surprising her with a plane flying over her home to announce the news.