It’s widely accepted that BofA is the greatest NFL venue in history. However on occasion Panthers fans will venture to other NFL stadiums to take in a game. We document these in a series entitled “Behind Enemy Lines.” Our guest correspondent for this edition is Andrew Batchelor, who we talked out of writing a piece entitled “All 22 Panthers Starters (plus Gano and Nortman) As Marvel Characters”
The Panthers play in prime time tonight, but I’m not ready to move on from last Sunday. Just a few days ago, a phenomenon nigh impossible occurred in Seattle: Russell Wilson lost to a team named “Carolina”. My youngest brother and I were lucky enough to make the long journey to experience this aurora borealis of North Carolina sports in person.
The setting of this rare event was…well, a standard Seattle day. Overcast skies covered CenturyLink Field with an occasional drizzle of Recovery Water aiding the Seahawks’ home field advantage. The stadium is on the edge of downtown and lacks the usual massive parking lots. Tailgates are spread throughout smaller lots and parking decks, so as a Tar Heel fan I felt right at home.
I’ll give Seahawks fans this, they rep their team hard, or maybe it’s just a Seattle ordinance to wear team gear at all times. Even four days before the game, fans with Seahawks gear were around every corner. You can’t go a block without seeing flags emblazoned with a giant “12” for the so-called “12s”. (Seattle officially dropped the “12th Man” name earlier this year and rebranded to stop having to pay Texas A&M royalties.)
With a record crowd of 69,0202 to watch Macklemore play Guitar Hero and Sir Mix-a-lot raise a flag, CenturyLink was rocking.
The most popular Seahawks jersey might actually be “12” with “The Fan” on the back, which is…cool? I guess? Whatever floats your boat. It’s also retired and hanging in the stadium. With all the various Russell Wilson jerseys everywhere, I only counted one Wisconsin jersey. Sorry, State fans. Didn’t see any love for the Pack part of the Whole Pack of Badgers. (Editor’s note: respect for anyone who dons a Steve Largent jersey–he once did this)
CenturyLink Field certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums. It can also be one of the quietest, but more on that later. My ears were ringing multiple times throughout out the game. With a record crowd of 69,0202 to watch Macklemore play Guitar Hero and Sir Mix-a-lot raise a flag, CenturyLink was rocking.
To be honest, I expected more hostility from the fans. Maybe it’s just the legalized recreational marijuana, but most fans were pretty mellow and chill towards Panthers fans. The only heckling from the 12s were a few comments here and there about the two games last year and calling Panthers fans “Opie” or “Barney Fife”. Apparently, Seattle’s knowledge of North Carolina is only as recent as 1965.
Midway through the game, CenturyLink did a city comparison of interesting facts between Seattle and Charlotte. The “Local School” category correctly tagged in-town University of Washington as Seattle’s local school. Charlotte’s “local school”? UNC, 143 miles away, with a giant picture of the Old Well posted up on the CenturyLink video board. Good job, good effort, guys. Most conversations we had with Seahawks fans mirrored the Seinfeld episode where the gang went to a house party out in Long Island. “You came all the way out here for this?”
Emotions ran high during the game, especially with the Panthers finding the end zone first. Cam hit the dab and boos reigned down. “Only punks do stuff like that” claimed the fans around me. Maybe if Cam did a crotch grab diving into the endzone he’d be more popular with the 12s. Thankfully, things in the stands around me never got any chippier than this the way they did on the field.
Flash forward to the Panthers final drive and everyone, including myself, was practicing their best Surrender Cobra. When Cam found Olsen, the only sound to be heard were the screams from me and the small spattering of Panthers fans. Loudest fans in the NFL no longer. My brother and I immediately made a beeline down to the Panthers tunnel post game, hurdling seats and rails, and surely annoying every Seahawks fan in our path.
All in all, the Panthers win at Seattle felt like a turning point for the team and a signature moment in the franchise’s 20 year history. It easily ranks near the top of my list of sporting events I’ve attended. The 12s were clearly shocked at the loss but, based on the smell outside CenturyLink, they were already easing the pain legally.
Seattle is an awesome city and I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance. If you get a Panthers win with it, it’s even better. Now, it’s time to turn the page to the Eagles and, as always, Keep Pounding.