Club seats, Row A, 50-yard line. That’s the coveted perch from which Terri Fletcher normally watches Seahawks games at CenturyLink Field. Since 1992, the Kirkland resident has shared season tickets with her mother, Bonnie, an 87-year-old diehard dubbed “Mustang Mama” for her Seahawks-wrapped convertible.
Yet, with large gatherings barred locally amid Covid-19, Fletcher and the rest of Seattle’s famously cacophonous crowd could only watch from the couch as the 2020 home slate kicked off this September. Inside CenturyLink Field, a 70-decibel murmur of generic noise, provided by the league, subbed for the masses known to generate twice that noise.
For Fletcher, the root-from-home mandate meant taking in Seattle’s home opener with less fervent company: her laptop. The co-president of the Kirkland Sea Hawkers was one of 13 fans selected to virtually attend the squad’s game against the Patriots via Microsoft Teams. Our local software giant used its video conferencing technology to showcase supporters both on broadcasts and on LED screens in the stadium as part of a partnership with the NFL. Seahawks waved and pointed at the cheering, pixelated fans, who tried to compensate for the tens of thousands missing from their ranks. “I still don’t have my voice 100 percent,” Joel Galarza said two days after the game.
The Lacey resident belongs to the U.S. Military Sea Hawkers, a chapter of the team’s official booster club that sourced every “Fan Mosaic” participant. One viewer hailed from Atlanta, another from Germany.
Fletcher messaged with them after placing her screen atop a box on her coffee table and finally figuring out how to pin the game’s livestream next to The Brady Bunch–style fan tiling. She’d dyed her hair and brows blue for the occasion—standard for a “national game,” she says—and kept cowbells at the ready. A pair of Tiffany-style Seahawks lamps illuminated a Kirkland 12s flag above her. “I’m going to put us on the map for something better than Covid-19,” Fletcher recalls thinking, alluding to the Life Care Center of Kirkland outbreak that drew headlines across the country.
A Saturday dress rehearsal had included strict instructions about controlling one’s video feed. No family cameos (Bonnie wasn’t interested, anyway), no unapproved logos. Forget pacing around the living room too. “You couldn’t move,” she says. “You were there from three o’clock until the end of that game.”
Another drawback? The “Fan Mosaic” stream was ahead of the TV feed. When he leapt from his chair (violation!) after the Seahawks’ game-winning goal line stand, virtual fan Adrian Reza of Renton spoiled the ending for his wife, Nayely, and company. They were watching in another room. It wasn’t the first time that night he’d tipped them off before a play. “We’re going to put you in the garage at halftime,” he recalls them saying.
The stadium would have been better. Just take it from Al Michaels, the legendary NBC broadcaster. He’s witnessed the Miracle on Ice and a World Series earthquake, but the Seahawks hushed opener had him off-kilter. “It’s so bizarre in here.”