A lot of fans have been follwing the Seattle Seahawks since day one (1976), never missing out on a single game. I can’t claim to have been a fan that long, but there are plenty of you out there that can. However, how many of you can claim that your undying devotion to the team saved our beloved Seahawks in their darkest hour?
In 1996, then-owner of the Seahawks, Ken Behring unceremoniously divorced the Seahawks from the Pacific Northwest and tried to set up shop in southern California. Obviously it didn’t take, but what a shock to learn that our beloved Seattle Seahawks might have become the Anaheim Seahawks.
Lifelong fan Mark Collins started a grassroots group called, “Save Our Seahawks” in late 1995 after he decided that the multiple rumors probably weren’t a coincidence. In an interview with Scout.com back in 2005, Collins said it all began after a Raiders game in December:
“The day after the Raiders game in the Kingdome (we kicked their butts by the way) on December 17, 1995. I was watching the 11:00 pm news and once again, there was another rumor that Ken was moving the team to California. I had had enough. I instantly sat down and wrote Behring a letter letting him know that I was forming ‘Save Our Seahawks’ and that I vowed to be his worst nightmare and never let him move the Seahawks out of Seattle. Actually, he was faxed the third draft because my lawyer made me clean up the first two. I also sent copies to all the media in the Seattle area.
I went to a friend of mine, Dean Olsby, who owned The Little Red Hen restaurant by Greenlake in Seattle and talked him into teaming up with me. We put a donation jar at the bar. Most people thought I was crazy, but some did throw a few dollars in the jar just to shut me up.
It wasn’t until some six weeks later (February 2, 1996) when Ken made his move and my life changed forever.”
S.O.S was intended to rally together the fans, gain donations for the cause and gain public attention to stop Behring. This proved difficult as this was a low point in Seahawks history and the group became a full-time volunteer job for Collins. At this time the Seahawks ticket sales were way down and they were fourth place in fan-interest, coming in behind the college Huskies team.
Hiring a lawyer to be ready for the anticipated announcement, Collins set in motion a lawsuit the day that Behring declared a move of the Seahawks out of Seattle. The Seahawks did spend a week down in California, caught in limbo while the S.O.S movement quickly gained media attention and the NFL stepped in. With a $500,000 fine threat to Behring to bring back the Hawks, the team turned around and returned north.
There were negotiations and Paul Allen was sought out as a potential new owner to buy the team from Behring. Allen ended up taking on the Seahawks in 1997 after his family convinced him to do it as a fan more than a financial investment. Under the agreement that a new stadium (Qwest) would be built, the Seahawks were home to stay.
“Save Our Seahawks” finally got their official plaque of recognition for all their hard work in 2009.
In February of this year, a fellow fan gifted a 40-yard-line Super Bowl ticket to Collins as a gesture of appreciation for his long ago role in helping save our Seahawks, who would not have made it to MetLife Stadium without him.
Repeating won’t be easy – Seattle has one of the toughest schedules in 2014.
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