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That Was One Super Sendoff

Starting well before the sun even came up, 12s lined the streets to cheer the team on during their travel to Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX.

It begins before dawn, the build-up lasting hours and hours for many, and the payoff is but a precious few seconds.

But make no mistake, it was all worth it for the thousands of 12s out in force for the Seahawks' Super Bowl Sendoff on Sunday.

It's not always easy to convince a family member or friend to rise before the sun to take you to the airport. Yet here were folks, thousands of them, from near and far throughout Seahawks Nation, who were brothers and sisters in arms, giving their heroes one last glimpse, one lasting snapshot as a testament of their undying support.

Team photographer Rod Mar travels with the team and gives us the journey from the player's perspective.

Two and a half hours before the team buses will arrive, fans are already taking up positions. It's clear some have been here for quite awhile.

A quick survey of those near the intersection of South 188th and Air Cargo Road indicates that most of these 12s were here a year ago, when the Seahawks took flight to New York. More specifically, they occupied this same plot of earth.

Dan and Kathi Optiz of Edgewood are back, taking up high ground on the final approach to the airport. Rather than risk arriving late, they spent the night in a nearby hotel.

"I know," confesses Kathi, "we're crazy. You get this sense of community; everyone is here, cheering the team on."

It may seem crazy, until one realizes they stand shoulder to shoulder with like-minded people, dressed in their Seahawks Sunday best. By far the most ubiquitous are jerseys, but it's the homemade green and blue ensembles that engender the most gawks and hollers.

There's a boy, under 10, with the Seahawks logo shaved into his head. Nearby, two women in matching tutus, fuzzy legwarmers and wigs are star attractions; people stop them to take selfies.

Light Reveals the Masses

As the golden orb climbs above hills, it's now visible, a thin blue ribbon of humanity stretching east toward Interstate 5 until it fades in the fog.

Photos of the 12s, the buses, and route to SeaTac Airport where the Seahawks boarded the plane to Arizona for Super Bowl 49.

Jeani Raggianti, among a group of five from nearby Burien, stands in the last few feet before the secure airport entrance. "We're here for the excitement, to support the team," she offers. "It was pretty awesome last year. It's hard to see in the buses with their tinted windows, but we saw Pete Carroll and his wife in the front seat. It's exciting to get this close and to support them."

A series of freight trucks leaving the airport hit their horns and the growing crowd responds with cheers. A moment later begin the chants: "You're all I got! You're all I need!" "Sea-HAWKS! Sea-HAWKS!"

As the fog gives way to bright sunshine, cars and trucks displaying '12' flags cruise and honk their way up and down 188th. A cement truck with a huge 12 on its mixer give several short blasts of his horn.

It's now 9 o'clock. The team equipment trucks round the corner, eliciting the loudest cheers yet. People are standing six and seven deep at this intersection. Down at International Boulevard, however, the ranks have swelled to 10-15 deep at points.

12 Times the Mana

A woman wearing what appears to be blue and green dreadlocks is generating noise from some medieval bellows. Whatever it is, it's loud. Directing across the road from her, Toiva Gaoa answers with a blow from his conch.

In Pacific Island culture, the conch is used to call the community together. Its sound is distinctive, ethereal.

"We're here to support our team," shares Gaoa, a native of American Samoa now living in Des Moines. "We feel the mana, the spirit of the team. We're sending them off in good mana. You feel the energy."

At 9:32 a TV news helicopter, appears above the bus route, an indicator that the time is growing near.

A quick scan of Twitter a few minutes later confirms the motorcade is en route from VMAC.

"Wow what an incredible send off!! Thank you to all the 12s. Truly blessed to be a part of this team and this city!" tweets Luke Willson.

Photos of well-wishers on freeway overpasses flash across social media.

"Most amazing sendoff you could ever imagine! We can feel the connection and we are so grateful! We love you #12s!" tweets Carroll.

"Like a Movie," echoes Doug Baldwin.

And All for This Moment

Approaching 10 a.m., in the airspace above now fly three helicopters, creating the first and only breeze on this unseasonably balmy morning. Now comes a plane with a gigantic 12 flag in tow. Eastward in the distance, the flashing lights of the police motorcycle escort can now be seen. This is the moment the goose bumps tingle and the eyes tear up, just a little.

Photos of the arrival and first media appearances in Phoenix, AZ on travel day to Super Bowl 49.