FRIEZ COLUMN: A whim, a tip and a championship memory with my dad
Editor’s note: The Pioneer sports staff has decided to share our memories of the most memorable sporting events we have attended as fans. It just so happens that we shared those moments with our fathers, so we thought it’d be fitting to share our stories on Father’s Day weekend.
“Want to go?”
The Seattle Seahawks had just defeated New Orleans in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, and, with a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII at stake, NFC West rival San Francisco waited for them next.
My father, Tim, grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and I inherited his passion for Seattle sports. We watched our Seahawks survive Drew Brees and the Saints, and only Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers stood between the Hawks and a Super Bowl appearance.
So my dad asked me, “Want to go?”
As a high school junior at the time, I was pretty excited about the prospect of a free (at least, free to me) trip to the second-biggest game of the year. To say we went on a whim would be underselling it, but looking back, both of us are so glad we did.
We were in and out within 40 hours. (We didn’t have much time to spare with basketball season -- me playing and my dad coaching -- ramping up. The day after Seahawks-49ers, we even had a road game.) (Which we won, thank you very much.) So we flew into Seattle on Championship Eve, and we headed early to CenturyLink Field the next morning.
I remember the cold. The wet, chilling, feel-it-in-your-bones kind of cold. Being a Minnesotan, I wasn’t ready to admit that this was unpleasant since the mercury hadn’t dipped below freezing, but it’s a totally different cold than I faced each winter back home in East Grand Forks.
I remember the noise. My goodness, the noise. The Seahawks fanbase prides itself on its volume, and that stadium was rocking. A respite came every time Seattle had possession, as the 12s quieted down to let Russell Wilson and Co. operate without distraction. But when the 49ers had the ball? Start shouting.
I remember the nerves. Wilson fumbled on the first play of the game, Seattle’s defense just could not stop Kaepernick (who rushed for 130 yards on 11 carries), and a six-point lead was 18 yards from disappearing in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter. The Seahawks led 23-17, but there was a distinct moment where I realized San Francisco may actually win this thing -- something I hadn’t truly considered yet.
I remember The Tip. With me in one corner of the stadium and the action way over in the opposite, Richard Sherman twisted his body for a crystal-clear last stand of a tipped pass into the waiting arms of Malcolm Smith.
Sherman delivered a Super Bowl berth to the city of Seattle -- and then his infamous “Don’t you ever talk about me” speech to the nation shortly after.
My dad and I jumped up and down, high-fived and hugged instinctively. To each other, to fans next to us, to anyone and everyone dressed in matching blue and green.
Confetti pumped into the January night sky, and the two of us journeyed from the upper deck to the front row. A stadium employee scooped up some confetti from the field for us to keep, a permanent treasure signifying the franchise’s greatest game and the prologue to a Super Bowl victory.
The elation hadn’t worn off as we exited the stadium and headed right back for the rental car, for the airport, for Minnesota. But my dad and I stopped for Krispy Kreme donuts along the walk, and I don’t even know how many I ate.
After all that, who cared?