SEATTLE Even before the sun came up over Qwest Field this morning, hundreds of diehard Seahawks and Saints fans showed up outside the stadium to get the party started before the NFC Wild Card matchup.
On the southeast end of Qwest Field, across from the Events Center, a sea of portable canopies held the 12th Man. Most were wearing their Seahawks blue.
Eric Schaffer was representing the 12th Man in his No. 12 jersey, albeit a Jim Kelly Buffalo Bills jersey. Schaffer was born and raised in Buffalo, but moved to Seattle a decade ago and is a Seahawks season ticket holder. He says he bleeds Hawk blue, but still needs to represent for his hometown team.
Not too far away was Ed Cyford, firing up his barbecue made from an old beer keg. He proudly wore his white Steve Largent jersey adorned by a necklace that included beer mugs.
But this party atmosphere was invaded by the enemy. A handful of New Orleans Saints fans showed up in their van ready to represent for the Big Easy. They are New Orleans natives who say they have to show their pride. The banter between the two sides was playful, not contentious.
Then, around 9 a.m., the party picked up as Mr. and Mrs. Seahawk, Jeff and DeDe Schumaier, pulled up in their party bus. Inside were other members of the menagerie Paintedhawk, Kiltman and Berniehawk, among others. The inside of the bus, blue and green lights flickered. The alcohol flowed smoothly, and, they claim, the stripper pole in the middle of the bus was there when they rented it.
Off in the north parking lot, the crowd wasn t quite as big at this point, but it was still four hours before kickoff. A few RVs were taking up space and a handful of tailgaters had the barbecues fired up.
At the northwest corner of the stadium were about a half-dozen procrastinators desperate for a ticket to the game. One even donned a sweatshirt printed with his intentions -- I Need Tickets.