Only stopping for mochas, and ten minutes to visually enjoy the young barista, we arrived at Fanfest around 12:45. Brian and I waited by the lifelike, inflatable Pork Chop Womack float for Todd and the others. It was there that a girl working the event questioned me on the All Access Seahawks.Net placard on my chest. “It’s a press pass. It pretty much allows me to go anywhere I’d like.” I confidently answered. “Why?”
“Oh, I was just curious. So, what are you doing, then?”, she said, looking at my friend Brian. “I’m his security. His mouth gets him into a lot of situations that he can’t back up alone”. The lady bought the whole line, so let it be known, a Seahawks.Net All access placard can get you into some privy areas, if you’re willing to lie a little. Regrettably, I was unable to fully test this notion, as my phone rang, and I was to meet the boys at the EWU stadium for the much-ballyhooed scrimmage.
The scene was one of organized chaos. Pleading children in front of concessions or pro-shops, adult males pathetically perched and cocked for players, coaches, Blue Thunder, anyone to sign their Seahawks paraphernalia, and families or groups disjointedly gauging where to sit at a festival seated event. Luckily for Brian and I, John stands above the others in frame and look. We intersected with Todd, Doug and John, all of us headed up the North bleachers to find a suitable place to view the game.
After much debate and complaints about the unbearable heat, we finally settled into a couple of seats at the very top of the bleachers. Again, I sat next to John, Brian was silently leaning toward the action in the row in front of us, and Doug and Todd were childishly straddling the cement curb behind us. It was official; we were a collective of hung-over, tired, slightly irritable, onlooking, nerds who looked worse for the wear.
The scrimmage itself offered reiteration of what I already saw in the earlier practices. Hasselbeck and Wallace will give the Seahawks as good a QB 1-2 punch, as any other in the league. Kelly Jennings looked very good, although he did make the mistake of tackling Leonard Weaver up high. Weaver became Jennings’ AA sponsor, taking him twelve steps, before some defensive help arrived to topple the freakish fullback. Burleson looked good, even scoring a touchdown. They only other thing I can report, as noticed by the full-grown child prodigy to my right, was that the Seahawks didn’t necessarily put in nickel packages on passing downs. Point being, all of the Seahawks LBs can conceivably cover a TE, or even a slot WR on a shallow route. That trait’s unique, unique to the extent that Seattle maybe the only team you ever see that from.
More than ¾ through the scrimmage, everyone in our section was treated to a group of drunken college locals. The loudest and “leader” of this group offered up many pearls of wisdom on the Seahawks team. Some details, no one else knew of, but apparently he did. He verbalized all of these informational gems in a deep, drunken, monotone voice. The type of speech signaling he was more littered, than even he thought.
For example, did you know that David Green’s a real good QB? Good enough to not only unseat Wallace, but Hasselbeck as well? Or that potential 3rd string QB, Gibran Hamdan, grew up in Kuwait before attending the University of Iowa. And his Kuwaiti heritage remains evident, given his obvious involvement in some sort of sleeper cell? Camp fodder, Evan Benjamin, is a great LB who’s just being overlooked, despite his 220ish LB frame? The annoyance also had an unhealthy affection for Mike Holmgren, obvious from his consistent yells of “I love you Holmgren” during Holmy’s thank you speech to the crowd.
I’m not saying the following to impress, or garner any macho perceptions but in a different situation, that drunken college boy and myself would’ve had a discussion. A discussion that undoubtedly would’ve escalated into a donnybrook. But, for the second time that weekend, I uncharacteristically took what others call a “higher road” leaving the scrimmage in peace, heading towards the room for a much-needed nap. All of us required a little extra hibernation for the Sehawks.net BBQ to be held at 6 PM.
After collecting some much needed down time (especially Brian), we met up with John, Todd, and Doug at the Motel 8 to carpool to the dot.net BBQ, hosted by the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Radish. During the ride over, there were some discussions of a drunken, brash attendee from a few years back. An individual whose antics obviously had scarred the group before, one that paired with my presence, would make a legendary event.
We arrived fashionably late, around 6:45, to an event already in full swing. The Radish’s backyard had been transformed into a corporate picnic. Complete with a large gazebo, shiny metallic grill, expandable camping chairs, and enough food to feed the Seahawks’ offensive line, or at least Walter Jones.
The crowd consisted of many regulars I’ve already described, but also few others that deserve mention.
Lymonhawk’s an older, pony-tailed, Hawaiian shirt wearing, go-lucky man. The type of person, whose easy natured humor and views come from a lifetime of wild stories and well-traveled stature. If you inquired, he’s the type that would shock you with the places, people, and situations he’s bumped into in his life. He carries the soft-spoken aura of a man who has some sort of rock star or intriguing past, but he just chooses to keep it to himself.
The lovely MizHawk (Trish) and Johnny Mac (Hawkboi) were also in attendance. The married couple reminded me of your local school’s charming and sweet music teachers. Never ones to turn down someone in need, always offering help and guidance for whomever came their way, and sharing their love of music to whomever they could. Very special people, indeed.
And then, I encountered the individual I had been told of. He wore the sly smile of someone about to unleash mischief, be it verbal or otherwise. His quasi rocker haircut, #12 jersey with nothing underneath it, shorts, and slightly tilted stature oozed loud and brash. Honestly, I loved every moment of it. He was fulfilling the role of making others around him on edge or slightly uncomfortable, since I was unable, due to my vacant voice. Brian, Les’ son, became the hit of the party, at least in my opinion.
Within any party, be it a backyard BBQ or socialite charity auction, one can always find sub-groups within the gathering. These small groups are either introductory or familiar in purpose. Like I’m prone to, Brian took to freelancing the party by hopping from group to group. Each time he visited a conversation, the volume of his drunken speech asserted itself, uncomfortably, as the dominant voice or opinion.
No matter where you were in the yard, how loudly you and your sub-group were talking, no matter how hard the laughter - you’d hear his sayings. Whether it was a condescending “Now, that’s funny!” or an earned “One word. Wow!” as response to any foolish or ill-informed thought. Adding to the beauty of this man is that despite what others would assume, he knew what he was talking about. He was right, more than the others. His knowledge flew in the face of his drunken party exterior. A trait which further endeared him to me.
There were many great one-liners and hard laughs throughout the gathering. I found myself on the soapbox many a time, especially berating those who proudly wear their #12 jersey. It’s a ridiculous lemming marketing ploy, one which many latch on to even though it’s pure cornball. The aforementioned star, Brian, once asked someone if they “touched their mother with those hands” per their story about a graphic internet posting. To which I replied, “if you’re going to touch your mother, it shouldn’t be with your hands”.
In the end, the BBQ was a great time and opportunity to finally associate with individuals I’d known for years, be it only through the internet. There were many more one-liners and great moments, including watching NFL Films’ 2005 Seattle Seahawks Year in Review, to end the occasion. But, eventually, Brian (my friend), Todd, and I succumbed to “Grandma and Grandpa” John and Doug’s incessant yearning for bed, leaving around 10:30.
While the elders took the departing of the BBQ as the official end of the weekend, my friend Brian and I took one more mission into the Willow Springs.
The crowd was noticeably less vibrant and populated than night before. The only recognizable faces were: the beyond beautiful blonde working the bar, Johnny Mac, his wife Trish, and their son, ”Brian’s older twin”, and the two drunken college girls from the night before.
This night, however, the college girls were squeezed into a booth with a man who looked as if one had pushed down on top of Kenny Rogers with enough force to reduce him to 4’11”, with his weight staying the same, only expanding sideways from his torso. They were hanging on every word this ridiculous-looking man said.
For he was buying the drinks.
That oddity sealed our fate - it was time to go to bed. After one last song, a rendition of George Michael’s Faith by the bartender and me, Brian and I sauntered home for some sleep.
The next morning, Brian and I debated whether to attend the Sunday AM practice. But, as it had done six years before that day, Cheney had left us tired, hungry, irritable, and homesick.
On the five-hour drive back home we relived, revisited, and discussed the great moments of the weekend, including what to include or exclude from this narrative. That was a lively debate given my literary arrogance, Brian’s own fears, and our different perceptions of the events and people encountered. There was one thing we did agree on though…how to end this piece.
One word: Wow.
Known very well to friend and foe as "pehawk" in our fan forums, Ryan Davis will be providing a fresh voice on the Seahawks, Seattle sports in general, and life in a nutshell. Feel free to send your thoughts, recriminations and mule sniffs to Ryan here.