OLYMPIA - As a Seattle Seahawks season ticket holder for 23 years, Gary Soderberg has learned to expect the unexpected.
That’s why he won’t be surprised if the Seahawks, the first team to reach the playoffs with a losing record, beat New Orleans today, knocking the defending Super Bowl champs out of the playoffs.
“I’ve seen it all,” the Olympia man said. “With the Seahawks, nothing surprises me anymore.”
Excitement and optimism are high for Seahawks fans giddy with their team’s first playoff appearance since the 2007 season. The team’s 7-9 record doesn’t taint their excitement about its NFC West Division championship. Still, Soderberg has a suggestion.
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“Maybe the division banner they put up should have an asterisk on it,” he said.
At 10 a.m. today, Soderberg and about 80 other eager Seahawks fans are set to board two chartered buses at O’Blarney’s Pub to go to the game. Soderberg is the president of the Capital City Sea Hawkers, the bus service that takes fans to each Seahawks home game.
“I grew up in Spokane, but I’ve been a Seahawk fan since day one,” Soderberg said.
Soderberg’s basement is a shrine to Seahawks football. Besides autographed posters and a football autographed by former stars Jim Zorn and Steve Largent, the felt cover for Soderberg’s pool table has a Seahawks emblem. He has a ticket stub for every Seahawks game since the season opener in 1976.
He was at the Super Bowl five years ago when the Seahawks lost to Pittsburgh.
Gerry Rich, who was set to ride the Sea Hawkers bus to the game today as he does for every home game, wasn’t predicting a Super Bowl championship. But he’s not counting the Seahawks out today.
“The energy at last week’s game was at a ridiculous level,” said Rich, a season ticket holder for 18 years. “Last week, I had this sense that the Seahawks didn’t deserve to go to the playoffs.”
But hearing the roar of the crowd changed his perspective.
“It was different being at the game,” Rich said. “You end up pulling for them.”
Lori McCormick, another Capital City Sea Hawkers member, has been a Seahawks ticket holder for 15 years. She sits in the end zone next to her mom, Deeann, at every home game.
“Other moms and daughters bake or go shopping,” McCormick said with a laugh. “But my mom and I have always been football fans. My brother played football at Tumwater, and we didn’t want to give it up when he finished. So, we went to the Kingdome to watch the Seahawks.”
Soderberg knows the Seahawks are heavy underdogs. But he thinks the “12th Man” fans will be a determining factor.
“The Hawks are going to win,” Soderberg said. “The crowd is going to be loud. I think we’re going to surprise some people.”