A Windfall of Experiences in the Windy City
Three years ago he took that first, small step toward becoming part of the crowd. Last week, David Feldhammer was on stage at the NFL Draft, shaking hands and posing for photos with Roger Goodell .
Just as every lottery winner story begins with buying a ticket, Feldhammer is living proof that the ride from Blue Pride to Seahawks season ticket holder to NFL Draft Experience winner can sometimes happen in the fast lane.
In fact, since early in the 2012 season it's been nothing short of a joy ride for David and Nici Feldhammer. No sooner did they put their names on the waiting list and good things began happening.
Of course the Seahawks returned to the playoffs that season, shortly after David and Nici got engaged. In spring of 2013 they surprisingly got the call from the ticket office, offering them the chance to pick seats. The couple exchanged vows the night before the Super Bowl and, well, the rest is history.
All Seattle STHs were invited to enter the The Membership Club's NFL Draft Experience Photo Contest by submitting a photo that best demonstrates the We Are 12 mantra.
"We got lucky," admits David, who tendered a photo of the newlyweds concluding their wedding with a kiss, cloaked in a 12 flag.
"We reviewed every photo and that one hit every mark of what we thought represented the contest," says Chris Lawrence, Director of Ticket Sales and Service.
In short order, the Seahawks notified David and Nici, flights and hotel were booked, bags packed and they were bound for Chicago. Winding up in the Windy City is just the latest in a series of windfalls for the Feldhammers of West Seattle.
David says he never dreamed they would be season ticket holders in short order, much less prize winners of this magnitude. "We have good friends who put in their deposit after us who are still on the waiting list. We got the last row of CenturyLink that first season and moved up seven rows last year."
Before the flight left SeaTac last week, David and Nici were already counting their blessings, not the least of which were two seasons of rooting the Seahawks to NFC Championships and, of course, that Super Bowl XLVIII conquest at MetLife Stadium.
Draft Day Deluxe
However, money can't buy their experience in Chicagoland. Draft Day began with winners from each of the 32 teams joining NFL staff for breakfast. As it was wrapping up, a league executive introduced a surprise special guest.
"And in walks Roger Goodell," says David. The commissioner spoke and then fielded questions. Nici asked where Goodell sees the league 10 years on and got a thoughtful answer.
Next came a behind the scenes tour of the Auditorium Theatre, where the first-round selections would be announced before network cameras and a throng of media in a few short hours. A luncheon featured a panel discussion of past and present NFL players, led by LaDainian Tomlinson, all of them reflecting on their careers, beginning with their draft day remembrances. Afterward, the Feldhammers took photos with future Hall-of-Famer Tomlinson and two-time Pro Bowler Charles Tillman.
As Draft Day turned toward evening, the experience was only heightened. Each of the contest winners walked the gold carpet leading to the auditorium before a phalanx of fans and media. Wearing his newly-minted personalized Seahawks jersey, David strode the gauntlet while Nici captured it on video.
"It was pretty cool," declares David. "There's fans and media taking pictures. A guy wearing a crazy Rams outfit starts booing. That's OK; I know they're only booing me because the Seahawks are at the top, and they're a bit jealous."
"It was really cool watching him walk down," says Nici. "I actually tried to get a Sea-HAWKS going, but there was no response; no way that was happening." However at the end of the carpet awaited some friendly faces: mascot Blitz and two Sea Gals.
Photos of Seahawks Season Ticket holders in Chicago for the 2015 draft.
Then Comes the Unexpected
The draft was spent backstage, along with the other winners. Although Seattle started the day without a first-round pick, the Feldhammers stayed alert, just in case GM John Schneider swung a trade.
"They told us to definitely be on our toes, but to trade into the first round you pretty much have to give away the farm," related David. "The Seahawks just got Jimmy Graham, and in my mind there wasn't anyone they would give away the farm for. "
While other teams' winners were tasked with giving Goodell their team's jersey to present the draft picks, David and Nici sat idly by. At least until after the 32nd and final first-day selection was announced. At that point, a Seattle name was called–David's. Awaiting on stage was Goodell for the photo op with the Seahawks jersey.
"Knowing how busy he is, that was awesome of him," exclaims David. "First to take time out to speak with us in the morning, and then on stage. I wouldn't have felt short-changed, but having gotten that chance, I'm very thankful."
Day 2 presented a bonus opportunity some other winners missed as the Seahawks arranged access for the Feldhammers to a VIP reception and more encounters with NFL stars, draftees and media.
"Everyone–the other teams' contest winners, the league staff and people of Chicago–they were all very friendly and hospitable," says David. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and they picked our name out of a hat, but what an awesome experience; it's something we could not even have paid for."
Recounting the stories and photos they will bring home and remember for the rest of their lives, Nici repeated David's sentiments of gratefulness. "We couldn't ask for anything better," she says. "We have always loved the Seahawks, but we love them even more now."