True-blue Hawks fans flying far to cheer for team in Atlanta
Steve and Cheryl Lewis and plan to hop a red-eye flight Saturday night to get to Atlanta for Sunday's Seahawks game against the Falcons. They are among a group of fans willing to take on the hassle and expense of travel to be part of Seahawks' playoff history.
Seattle Times staff reporter
To understand the depth of Steve Lewis' passion for the Seahawks, know this: Two years ago, he asked his bride to postpone their Hawaiian honeymoon and go instead to a Seahawks playoff game in frigid Chicago.
And yes, she is still with him.
So it may be no surprise that this Poulsbo Navy man and his wife, Cheryl, an office manager for a Bellevue dentist, will be hopping a red-eye flight Saturday night to get to Atlanta for Sunday's game against the Falcons.
They may not get much sleep, but that's not the point.
"It's the excitement of an NFL playoff game," said Lewis, 48. "There's really nothing else like it." He's been a Seahawks season-ticket holder since 2004 and a fan since his childhood near Portland.
The Lewises are not alone in their willingness to take on the hassle and expense of travel to be part of Seahawks' history.
"There's a lot of us out there, and it's great to see," he said.
He counted 60 fans in Seahawks gear on his flight to Washington, D.C., last weekend to see the team's wild-card playoff victory, a trip his wife did not make.
If the Seahawks win Sunday, he plans to get online quickly to book seats at the NFC championship, to played at Green Bay or San Francisco.
"Who knows when we'll get this chance again?" he said.
For last Sunday's game against Washington, Lewis paid $235 at stubhub.com for a seat in the first row of the 200 level near an end zone.
Although the ticket's face value was $99, Lewis had no complaints, especially when right in front of him, running back Marshawn Lynch bulled across the goal line to give Seattle the lead in the fourth quarter.
In the Georgia Dome, the Lewises will be 18 rows up, also from an end-zone corner, in seats for which they paid $180 apiece. Lewis doesn't know their face value, but said the location is comparable to their seats at CenturyLink Field.
Cheryl Lewis, 52, knew what she was getting into when she got involved with this football fan: They met online, and their first date was to a Seahawks game in 2008.
She's also a longtime fan, with memories dating to the 1970s, when long bombs from quarterback Jim Zorn to Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent were lighting up the Kingdome.
Steve Lewis remembers those days, too. "My dad took me to my first Seahawks game in the Kingdome in 1978. It was against the Kansas City Chiefs. I can't even tell you who won, but it was a wild atmosphere."
Besides attending home games, the Lewises try to get to a couple of away games each year. This season, they were at the Hawks' 20-16 opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and in Chicago for the 23-17 overtime victory that launched Seattle's current six-game winning streak. Steve Lewis, a Navy chief warrant officer based at the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor, says frequent-flier miles he has logged on vacations and for work have helped cover his playoff airfare.
Even so, Lewis said the conference championship may be as far as he can go with the Seahawks in person. He doubts he could swing the $2,400 stubhub.com was showing this week for the cheapest seats available for the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
The reason the Lewises can't fly out to Atlanta until nearly 10 p.m. Saturday is that Steve Lewis will be undergoing testing that day as a potential Washington State Patrol cadet — the career he hopes for when he retires soon after 30 years in the Navy.
The couple are due to land in Atlanta at 5:30 a.m. local time, and will have a hotel room waiting for them near the stadium. But they don't expect to spend much time napping before kickoff, set for 1 p.m. in Atlanta (10 a.m. Seattle time.)
Getting to the Georgia Dome early will give them more time to connect with other Seattle fans, which Cheryl Lewis said is the best part of the experience.
"Everyone's got a story," she said. "And even though you've never met them, you have this common bond."
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org