Sunday, January 19, 2014

Seattle's 12th Man...and Leadership


Seattle’s 12th Man… and Leadership

Earlier in this year’s NFL season, my girlfriend, Jenna, brought home a Russell Wilson jerseySomeone she works with gave it to her, and she gave it to me...I'm a huge fan of his, and I love his story.

Russell Wilson is #3.  However, on the inside of the jersey, it had a #12 stitched on the neck…I didn’t get it.  At that moment, I was on the receiving end of a mini-lecture from my Pacific Northwestern girlfriend on how the Seattle Seahawks’ beloved fan base is referred to as the 12th Man. (11 players on a football team…and the fans are…the…’12th Man.  Boom…got it.)

I’ve been fascinated with it ever since…

Seahawk fans are just that, fanatical about their team…and their city.  They’re loyal, zealous people, of all ages.  They wear their ‘Hawks’ gear all year round, with pride, representing their nation.  As they pass each other on the street in Seattle, in the aisle at their neighborhood Fred Meyer, or even outside of the Pacific Northwest…

I’ve seen them here in Las Vegas, at Disneyland, in Anaheim, and even when vacationing in Florida…they greet one another with, “Go Hawks”, as their blue’s and green’s shine brightly on their hats, shirts, headbands, shoes, and accompanying jewelry. 

On Fridays, in Seattle, during football season it’s a sea (no pun) of blue…for what they call, “Blue Friday”, as everyone wears their gear, leading up to the game on Sunday. 

Blue Thunder, the official drum line of the Seahawks, has played at every home game as well as over 100 events per year, throughout the greater Seattle area, since 2004.  As Gameday approaches, during the season, the city hoists the official `12th Man’ flag atop Seattle’s iconic Space Needle.

Before every home game, a prominent individual to the Seattle community raises the ‘12th Man’ flag, in a ceremony before the games are played at Century Link Field.  Fans not only turn out for every single game, selling out Century Link consistently, but they also cause an absolute ruckus.  They’re so loud that opposing teams get disoriented with multiple false start penalties, and on more than one occasion the crowd’s noise actually registered on a seismometer nearby. Impressive.

Earlier this season, the ‘12th Man’ proudly became the loudest crowd in history, on a Monday night in early December when the noise level reached 137.6 decibels.

Here’s what amazes me --- when 67,000 of Seattle’s ‘12th Man’ faithfully migrate into Century Link and thousands more across the Pacific Northwest trek out to their establishment of choice for the games --- it’s about 36 degrees (if they’re lucky) and probably raining.  

Needless to say, I’m impressed with Seattle, and I’m enamored with the ‘12th Man’ phenomenon.  So I naturally dug a little deeper, tapping into some Googling skills, to learn just how in the world this all started.

Now, I get it.

You see the ‘12th Man’ really took off when, in 2005, Coach Mike Holmgren recognized the Seahawks fans with a presentation of a special game ball, for their incredible efforts in a dramatic overtime victory over the New York Giants.  In the game, the Giants committed 11 false starts, which undoubtedly occurred because of the Seahawks fan’s crowd noise…

However, recognizing and involving the fans in Seattle, as it turns out, has been a part of their culture since Day 1.  The team was originally going to be called the Seattle Kings, but after a public naming contest the name, ‘Seattle Seahawks’ was selected.  The contest drew over 20,000 entries and over 1,700 names. 

In 1996, the Seahawks franchise was almost moved out of Seattle…to Southern California.  If not for Paul Allen, the team would have likely been taken away from the Emerald City.  Allen funded a $25 Million ad campaign, targeted to the people of Washington to vote for a $430 Million project  - a new stadium for the Hawks, exhibition center, and parking garage. IF and only IF the vote passed, Allen would agree to buy the team... (yep, he peeled off $25 million, just to lobby for the new stadium...before he even owned the team.)

The vote passed…Allen was then able to buy the team.  In addition, he paid $130 Million and the public (taxpayers) paid $300 Million to build the new stadium…and that’s how and why the ‘12th Man’ has the unbelievable platform to do what they do 8 Sundays each season, to this day.

Supposedly just to get the deal done, the way it all went down was a mini-miracle…and would probably never happen today, as too many parties had to compromise. 

Through all the chaos, they say that Paul Allen had little interest in owning a football team, but he saw it as a civic responsibility…and he did it for his hometown, so the people of Seattle wouldn’t lose their beloved Seahawks.

Leaders Can Learn From the Seattle Seahawks Story

To recap...the people of Seattle are:

·      Involved in the process of choosing their team’s name from the start
·      Credited for the Seahawks’ extraordinary ability to win at home
·      Recognized and appreciated with the pre-game ‘12th Man’ flag raising
·      United by that ‘12th Man’ flag flying high above Seattle’s Space Needle

And in turn, the people of Seattle, the ‘12th Man’, are loyal, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, and they bring it…everyday...even the 36-degree days...and in the rain, and rain, and rain.

They love their team, and they love their city.

Calling all leaders!!! --- When we involve the people on our teams, credit them for successes, recognize and show them appreciation for what they do, and unite them together with common bonds and shared goals…we, too, can experience a culture of loyalty, energy, passion, and enthusiasm.   

And we’ll all love it.


And that’s why I love Seattle’s ‘12th Man’ and leadership.

Go Hawks…


One for the road...about ATTITUDE

I'm a bit of a weather snob, having lived in either Florida or Nevada for most of my adult life.  So the weather in Seattle...yeah...not my fave.

But if you ever ask a person from Seattle, "doesn't it rain all the time in Seattle?"

They almost always respond with, "yeah, but it it's so beautiful...in the summer."

So nine months of the year, it's gray, cold, and raining...but they choose to focus on the three months of gorgeous views, sunny weather, and the beauty of what God blessed them with rather than complaining about the rain.  (They love their city so much that they actually get offended if you make fun of the rain...I've learned the hard way.)

There's just something about Seattle, and while it is certainly a beautiful city...I can't help but think the people make place.

It's all about people.  So focus on people the most!




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  2. Hi Taylor. I just read this post and am definitely overhwlemed. I too am FROM Las Vegas, but Seattle is MY HOME and everything you have written is 100% true. I am still entertained by how passionate the people are in this city. The sense of community is amazing and something that many people could learn from. Excellent post.

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