Hundreds scurried around the field at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday afternoon, some carrying around a huge banner that will be displayed honoring the Seattle Seahawks as champions of Super Bowl XLVIII.
Others set up cameras all over the park in preparation for Thursday night’s 2014 season-opening game.
In a club room on the suite level, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand helping market the league’s new streaming video service, NFL Now.
The Seahawks play host to the Green Bay Packers in prime time in a chance for the nation’s pro football fans to focus undivided attention on the Seahawks. And it forever robs the Seahawks and their fans the joy of their traditional we-get-no-respect indignation.
Those days are gone.
“In many ways, I think we’re becoming America’s team,” said Peter McLoughlin, president of the Seahawks, who was on hand to hear the NFL presentation of its new video product.
America’s team? Seattle no longer a primitive outpost?
“I think it’s in a large part because we have so many intriguing personalities on the team: Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch and others,” McLoughlin said. “(Coach) Pete Carroll brings a presence and a communication style and a positive attitude that people really can relate to and feel good about.”
The way McLoughlin sees it, the Seahawks’ fans even have fans.
“We’ve got a phenomenal fan base,” he said. “I think our 12s have caught the imagination of the country with how loud and enthusiastic they are.”
McLoughlin pointed out that the league event was held in a room called the “Delta Club.” Two years ago, the room was not sponsored. Verizon now sponsors a lounge, he said, and Boeing has “stepped up in a significant way.”
The interest of major national advertisers is a reflection of the appeal of the team, and the nature of its fans.
“National advertisers realize Seattle has a great population demographic, young people with technological savvy, high employment, high income level, high education,” McLoughlin said. “Companies want to reach this community, and now they can do it by associating with the Seahawks.”
Former Seahawk receiver Steve Largent, a Hall of Famer, took part in the presentation. Afterward, Largent was asked about the status of the franchise as one of the league’s elites. He had seen it from its infancy.
“It’s not amazing and it’s not surprising because the league gravitates to winners,” Largent said. “When you win the Super Bowl, you’re a winner. It would have happened when I was playing or when Cortez (Kennedy) was playing, but we didn’t win the Super Bowl. This team did.”
And not many do, McLoughlin pointed out.
“One statistic we looked at was that the 48 Super Bowls have been won by only 19 teams,” McLoughlin said. “Thirteen current teams have never won a Super Bowl.”
So when Seahawks representatives appear at league-wide meetings now, there’s an obvious interest in how they operate.
“Owners realize that winning the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of sports,” he said.
Goodell did not answer questions at the presentation Wednesday afternoon. But he did indirectly address the Seahawks’ success.
He said he was in Seattle when the Seahawks won the NFC Championship game over San Francisco, and the city is still buzzing.
“You can feel it the moment you walk into town,” he said.
McLoughlin pointed out that, in 2013, the Seahawks led the NFL in retail sales for the first time, and had four players rank in the top 10 of jersey sales.
“I think that’s because they can relate to our team, to our toughness, our attitude, our swagger and the individuals who play for us,” McLoughlin said. “(The sale figures) aren’t just because of things being sold in the Puget Sound area. It’s nationally that people are buying our gear.”
Apparently, that’s how you become America’s team.