Sports have a unique way of bringing family together, particularly during the holidays, and for two families from opposite ends of the globe, it was Seahawks football that impacted their lives in a major way.
The two families in reference are part of a story that started in 1979 in Vietnam, where nine-year-old Duke Sheow and his family were fleeing the country as communism started to take over.
"We snuck into a hole of a small fishing boat," Sheow said in a TODAY Show segment. "We just drifted and we didn't know where we were going. We didn't know where we were going to land."
Eight-hundred thousand refugees left the country in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, and Sheow and his family ended up stranded on an island in Malaysia.
"My dad seeing us malnourished, he probably figured, you know, we're not going to survive too long if we don't get off the island," Sheow said.
Enter John and Jackie Hancock, two original season-ticket holders for the expansion team Seahawks who sponsored the Sheow family's move to the United States. The offer allowed the Sheow family to settle in Seattle, where Duke - then a 10-year-old who didn't speak English - would bond with the Hancock's while watching Seahawks football on Sundays.
"They watched the Seahawks, and very quickly, Duke in particular, was speaking [English] really pretty well," said John.
Sheow's earliest memories of Seattle football include trick plays between quarterback Jim Zorn and kicker Efren Herrera, as the Seahawks "became a way to talk to [the Hancock's] without knowing the full breadth of English."
When the Seahawks made their first playoff run in 1983, the Sheow family was struggling financially and moved to Los Angeles, Calif. to find work.
"We didn't have much in L.A. and the local television at the time would only televise the Rams or the Raiders," said Sheow. "We had no chance to watch the Seahawks."
Thankfully, 24-hour sports television networks, social media, and the internet weren't around yet, and Sheow was able to watch Seahawks games that the Hancock's would record on VHS and send Sheow's way, three game-tapes at a time.
"During that time, nothing mattered," Sheow said of watching the Seahawks on VHS. "I'm in my happy place, and that was my escape. Every weekend, I opened up and there was video tapes in them. I was so happy to get them. I loved waiting, it's like Christmas the whole year."
The Sheow/Hancock story is one of five finalists for the NFL's Together We Make Football contest, which invited fans to share a story of why they love the game.
Contest winners receive a trip to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif, and as part of being selected as a finalist, Sheow received a tour of Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where the Seahawks train, a day that was coupled with a surprise visit from Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.
"I love football because it's a language that transcends a lot of barriers," said Sheow. "No words can truly express the impact [the Hancock's] have made to give us a new life in the U.S. and the love for football.
"I would love to see the Hancock's at the Super Bowl, so the world can see what love and football can do."
The Hancock and Sheow families, life-long Seahawks fans and 1 of 5 finalists for the NFL's Together We Make Football contest where the winner will attend Super Bowl 50, got to tour VMAC and meet Coach Carroll.