Give or take a million people, this was a typical Seattle Seahawks event: It included an overwhelming expression of emotion and an unprecedented connection between the team and their fan base – along with whatever slice of Theater of the Absurd that running back Marshawn Lynch can contribute.
At the culmination of the celebration parade through downtown, when the Super Bowl-winning players were introduced at CenturyLink Field, Lynch came onto the field with
a bottle of champagne in one hand and a tribal drum in the other.
And when proper and stately quarterback Russell Wilson appeared carrying the Lombardi Trophy – perhaps the most sought-after symbol in big-time sports – Lynch jumped off the stage, raced toward Wilson, and shook the bottle so that it squirted alcohol all over Wilson and Lombardi.
And for the rest of the day, he pounded on his drum.
Total Beat Mode.
Military vehicles and amphibious “Ducks” carried the various units of the team through Seattle from Experience Music Project to CenturyLink Field. Seattle Police Department estimated that a crowd of 700,000 lined the streets (Seattle 2012 census: 635,000).
Owner Paul Allen later said he was told it was a million people. Either way, the figures didn’t include the many thousands who intended to join in but hit gridlock and turned back.
The conclusion: This town is going to have to get better mass transit if the Seahawks are going to make a habit of winning these things.
“I have never seen anything like this,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s not because of the hype or the build-up, it’s about the people in this area and the support they have and the love in their heart for this football team.”
He even made a statement that Pete Carroll viewers would find startling. He said he did not have “enough words to describe the emotions.”
When Carroll runs out of words, we’re talking about the rhetoric apocalypse.
But that was the tone of the day. I was positioned at the stadium for the second part of the celebration, so I had to rely on parade coverage from the Q13 Fox studios, where rapturous news people apparently had been inhaling heavy doses of nitrous oxide.
The coverage showed vehicles creeping through mass humanity, with frantic but orderly fans sending affection to the players and the players reflecting it right back.
For having run out of words, Carroll captured the very best part of being paraded through a million people. It wasn’t the throng, but the individuals that comprised it.
“The thing that struck me so was the little kids in the front row, and knowing we’re touching them,” he said. “They’re screaming and hollering. To know they have this moment, and hope they’ll remember their connection with their parents and families. From young to old, this was a very unique opportunity we shared, and it’s a great gift.”
When they got to the stadium, and were introduced, and fans had the chance to meet even the players who were the hidden denizens of the depth chart.
Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Michael Bennett executed signature sack-dance moves on their way out.
It left emcee Steve Raible to comment: “As you’ve probably seen by now, this is not going to be a very formal event.”
Highlights from the season were played on the big screen. A compendium of collisions and conquests, one big play after another drew cheers.
Politicians tried to funnel the community goodwill in their direction. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray missed the mark when he congratulated the Seahawks as “the World Super Bowl champions.”
About then, Lynch really started pounding his drum.
Allen made some heart-felt comments about having been born and raised in the town,
and his joy in sharing a moment that “Seahawk fans have been waiting for since 1976.”
Carroll conducted his season-ending meeting with the media after the public celebration.
He claimed “we can be better in so many ways.” He was asked to look back at the best season in franchise history. “I was witness to a team coming together and growing in great maturity and the kind of mentality it takes to not be satisfied, to not overlook stuff, to have a very mature approach. I watched that happen … and that’s very, very special.”
He voiced his only regret, as Lynch’s continued drumming could be heard through the wall.
“The frustrating part was you just couldn’t touch everybody and give everybody a chance to feel the gratitude we have for this whole relationship.”
Don’t be frustrated on that count, coach, you and this team profoundly touched everyone here this day.