Sports

If 2005 is the year of the 12th man in the NFL, then this is Kitsap's contingent

Bremerton land owner Rob Larsen (wearing No. 1) and San Francisco linebacker Julian Peterson point fingers at each other while exchanging comebacks before the start of Seattle’s 41-3 blowout of the 49ers on Dec. 11. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Bremerton land owner Rob Larsen (wearing No. 1) and San Francisco linebacker Julian Peterson point fingers at each other while exchanging comebacks before the start of Seattle’s 41-3 blowout of the 49ers on Dec. 11.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

They cross the waters once a week with one common purpose in mind. With deep determination and unrivaled focus, Seattle Seahawks fans are at the forefront of a 12th man revival, lending a direct hand in several Seattle victories.

Just how important has the 12th man been to the Seattle Seahawks this year?

“The 12th man is really big,” Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant said. “It gives us an advantage in getting all those penalties. It definitely gets us fired up.”

“It’s great,” Hawks defensive end Grant Winstrom added. “When we’re playing an offense like (Indianapolis), we need all the noise we can get, especially when we hit the playoffs.”

“It’s a huge advantage for us,” Seattle Pro Bowl fullback Mack Strong said, following Christmas Eve’s win over Indianapolis. “We just appreciate the fans making a lot of noise. And (the fans) deserve it. They’ve supported us through a lot of tough years.”

Many of those fans, remaining faithful through 22 years without a playoff victory (not to mention just five total playoff appearances since the 1984 season), come from far and wide each week to catch a glimpse of a hopeful Seahawks victory.

If 2005 is the year of the 12th man in the NFL, then this is Kitsap’s contingent.

“Just being able to get in the enemy’s head,” longtime Seahawks fan Rob Larsen, a Bremerton landowner, said. “It’s true, it works. We get in their heads big time.”

Larsen, 47, made it a point to get season tickets right along side the visitor’s tunnel at the north end of Qwest Field. Arguably the biggest road-team taunter in Qwest Field on any given Sunday, Larsen and his crew are ready and equipped with multiple sheets of poster board, several markers and an unlimited supply of witty trash-talk etiquette (don’t worry kids, they make sure to keep it clean).

For example, as the Seahawks battled the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 11, a 41-3 drubbing by the Hawks, Larsen and Co. got started even before the game did.

“Keep your chins up!” Larsen yelled as the 49ers made their way from the field to the locker room following pregame warm-ups. “It’s not over yet!”

Larsen has no problem finding individuals to heckle either. In the same contest, Larsen targeted Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson.

“You ain’t got nothing!” Larsen yelled, finger pointed. “You ain’t nobody!”

With finger pointed back and a smile on his face, Peterson barked back.

“You ain’t got no ring,” Peterson responded.

“You ain’t got one either!” Larsen yelled.

Not to be deterred, Larsen and his crew put pen to paper.

“It’s not your fault you have no players,” read one poster.

As the game goes on, the signs change.

“Start over — Fire your whole team!” exclaimed another.

The effort of Larsen, and other Seattle followers, has not gone unnoticed.

“The main man, Paul Allen, always comes through at the end of the games and thanks us for what we’re doing,” Larsen said. “We’re pounding the living begeezus out of these teams. When we get acknowledged by the boss, you know you’re doing something right.”

Bremerton is not the only part of Kitsap represented at games.

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