Like so many other origin stories, the legend of Kiltman starts with heartbreak (and Mel Gibson). In the midst of a divorce in the late ’90s that left him with little more than his Seahawks season tickets, Neil Hart found a community in his fellow fans. There were those who tailgated and cheered and loved the team, but it was people like Mr. and Mrs. Seahawk (page 64) who really inspired him. “I wanted to do something to dress up but didn’t exactly want to copy their style,” he says. And he’d recently seen Braveheart, so naturally, for the last game in the Kingdome in 1999 he decided to wear a kilt.
But not just any kilt—a homemade one. Hart wrapped himself up in about six yards of wool and cinched it with a belt. “It was pretty rough and rustic,” he says. He upped his game for the next season, though, ordering an authentic, tailored kilt that was constructed in Scotland. “That’s when things really started with the wig and everything else.”
After 15 years of dressing up, Hart will admit that he’d rather leave the kilt at home every now and then, but he knows that the Hawks faithful expect to see him at CenturyLink, bare legs and all. And there are always away games, which he watches at home with his girlfriend, who’s learned to enjoy the game. Did she have a choice? “She did,” he says with a laugh. “But it wouldn’t have been much of a relationship.”
On staying warm:
When it gets really cold, Hart will insulate his feet from the concrete by standing on a piece of cardboard procured from the nearest concession stand. “That’s an East Coast trick.”
Below are behind-the-scenes images of his transformation.
All photos by Michael Clinard.