Culver City Bar Will Troll The 49ers, Cheer The Seahawks In The Sky Over SF Sunday
By Ben Adlin
As the Seattle Seahawks warm up on enemy turf in San Francisco on Sunday, a message from their die-hard fans will circle above them. For about 15 minutes before kickoff, a private plane buzzing over Candlestick Park will tow a banner with a message for both teams.
“It says ‘Go Hawks! - 12,’” said Cedric James Morris, one of the organizers behind the stunt.
News of the pregame flyover has been reverberating among fans in Seattle, but the banner isn’t a show of hometown support. In fact, it has roots smack dab in the middle of a media market currently without a football team. Morris started a Seahawks fan group at Backstage Bar & Grill in Culver City, which over the past eight years has become a home away from home for Seattle sports fans. The "12" on the banner refers to Seahawks fans, who call themselves "The 12th Man." (Eds note: a previous version of this post, incorrectly identified Morris as the owner of the bar.)
“I don’t wanna say it,” Morris said in a phone interview, “but I’m in Seattle right now, and I haven’t been to a bar in Seattle that has such a great spirit.”
Sunday’s aerial incursion into San Francisco airspace is meant to give a boost to the Hawks, who despite being 11-1 this season can sometimes struggle on the road. Seattle has a famously raucous fan base, dubbed the 12th Man, and Morris said the flight is for “every 12th Man in the country” who can’t be at Candlestick for the game. He also wouldn’t mind if it were an itch in the 49ers’ collective craw.
“Go out there, have some fun,” he chuckled. “Flying our flag over their stadium.”
The idea came from friend Travis Platt, who tapped Morris to help make it happen. The two launched an online fundraiser, and Morris reached out to the fans who regularly pack the bar to the gills.
“It didn’t take any longer than two hours to hit our initial goal, which for a basic package is like $760,” he said. “But people kept on donating.” On the eve of game day, the fundraiser had totaled $2,850, with much of the excess going to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Morris is from Salt Lake City but adopted the Seahawks early on. Now the dimly lit Culver City dive bar plays host on Sundays to a capacity crowd of Seattle expats. One former Seahawks season ticket holder told me it’s his favorite place to watch a game outside the stadium.
“On morning games, there’s a free breakfast burrito bar,” Morris said. “It’s like a little tailgate.” At halftime, servers offer fans shots of a blue-hued drink I’ve always assumed was Gatorade and vodka.
The Seahawks outpost has attracted the families of players with Los Angeles connections. Last postseason, a friend and I sat in the bar’s curved booth with star cornerback Richard Sherman’s mom and a gaggle of other family members. Cornerback Walter Thurmond’s dad is a regular on game day, and cornerback Brandon Browner’s uncle also has been known to drop in. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, who spent nine years coaching at USC, tweeted a shout out to the bar during last year’s playoff run.
“And then, after every game, you hear ‘Posse on Broadway,'” a late ’80s hip-hop track by Seattle native Sir Mix-a-Lot. “The crowd goes nuts.”
With Seattle leading the NFL, the crowd seems to be going nuts everywhere these days. Five or six other Seahawks bars have popped up in the past year or so, Morris said, from Koreatown to Newport Beach.
“I think with any team, as you get better, people come in and get more engaged," he said. "They feel that energy and want to be around other fans."
Morris hopes the energy will help lift Seattle over the rival 49ers on Sunday. It doesn’t bother him that oddsmakers have the Seahawks as 2.5-point underdogs. “Hometown will give you 3 points, regardless,” he points out, and the aerial assault — the 12th Man banner, not quarterback Russell Wilson's passing game — is meant to work in Seattle’s favor.
“That kinda means they’re a half-point favorite.”
Ben Adlin is a Los Angeles-based journalist and Seahawks fan who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. His girlfriend, who likes the 49ers, has barred him from Backstage on Sunday. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin.