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Super reward for Seahawks fans

Seahawks fans celebrate at the 12th man rally at Oak Harbor High School Feb. 1, 2014. A day later, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. - Ron Newberry
Seahawks fans celebrate at the 12th man rally at Oak Harbor High School Feb. 1, 2014. A day later, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.
— image credit: Ron Newberry

The last time the Pacific Northwest felt a rumble of this magnitude on the sports landscape, Lance Gibbon nearly lost his bearings.

It was June 1, 1979, and Gibbon had just watched the Seattle SuperSonics wrap up the NBA championship on television.

He was so excited he sprinted outdoors with his basketball.

He was 10.

“I don’t know what I was going to do with it,” he said. “I was just excited about the Sonics winning.”

Thirty-five years later, Gibbon celebrated the region’s next major sports championship with a little more restraint.

He watched with his family at their home in Oak Harbor Sunday as the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos, 43-8, for their first Super Bowl title.

Now the superintendent of the Oak Harbor School District, Gibbon couldn’t just bolt out the front door with a football under his arm, but savored the moment nonetheless.

Like so many others from his generation and older, he could fully appreciate what such an accomplishment meant. He’s one of the Seahawk lifers ­— a fan since the franchise’s NFL birth in 1976 — a time before blue 12th-man flags flew so freely.

“I’ve been watching the Seahawks since 1976,” said Gibbon, 45, who grew up in Edmonds. “When I was a kid, I remember them playing in the Kingdome. We stuck through all the Jim Zorn and Dave Krieg years and all that.”

“I remember when the Broncos were our rival. I remember John Elway playing. I loved all that stuff growing up.”

Gibbon still does, but he’s not going to get carried away.

A parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. today through downtown Seattle to celebrate the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl title, and Gibbon said he is taking no special measures to accommodate in Oak Harbor.

“School is still on,” he said.

Scott Dudley, Oak Harbor’s mayor, is another prominent figure in the Oak Harbor community who has cheered for the Seahawks since the franchise’s beginning.

Dudley, who grew up in Olympia, said he can remember a franchise that was immediately competitive from the get-go with Zorn, Steve Largent, Dave Brown and other Seahawks legends.

In Seattle’s first-ever regular season NFL game in 1976 in the Kingdome, Zorn engineered a comeback that ended near the goal line in a 30-24 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Immediately, a love affair between a region and its football team was born.

The Seahawks would go 9-7 in their third season, getting national attention for whacky plays, and get within a victory of the Super Bowl in 1983 during a time when Curt Warner made headlines long before another fellow named Kurt Warner did.

Dudley has seen the ups and downs, from the lows of owner Ken Behring nearly moving the franchise to sunny Southern California in 1996 to the highs of Paul Allen rescuing it and starting the process of building a Super Bowl contender.

In East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday, Dudley soaked in the highest of highs as he sat in the third level of MetLife Stadium and watched the Seahawks make history by dismantling the Broncos.

“It was phenomenal,” Dudley said. “I’m so glad I went. I came to find out I wasn’t the only Seahawk fan in New York. The 12th man showed up loud and proud.”

Dudley formally proposed Tuesday night before the Oak Harbor City Council that today, Feb. 5, 2014, be proclaimed “Seahawks Day in Oak Harbor.”

The idea is to encourage the community to dress in Seahawks attire today to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl title.

Dudley’s trip to New Jersey kept him from the Oak Harbor 12th man rally last week at Oak Harbor High School that drew about 200 fans and raised $1,300 for the North Whidbey Help House.

Mike Kennefick, 77, of Oak Harbor attended the rally and continued to root for the Seahawks into the weekend.

He’s not sure when he’ll stop.

A retired City of Bellevue employee, Kennefick has been a fan since day one and remembers the days of driving by the team’s former practice facilities in Kirkland to peek at the action.

Kennefick said he was elated by Sunday’s result.

“I think the whole world just lit up and it’s Christmas all over again.”

 

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