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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

January 25, 2013 at 2:00 PM

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Seahawks confessions: How a Twitter addiction ruined a 12th Man's tweet ride

Marc Singer, 42, is a lifelong Seahawks fan who grew up in the Seattle area but now resides in San Diego. He runs his own business from home, which allows far too much freedom to blow off his responsibilities and be a fan.

It was an epic ride our Seahawks took us on this year, but this story isn’t about Seattle’s run the second half of the season. It’s not about Super Bowl dreams dashed or the Seahawks’ newfound respect from the national media.

It’s about a phenomenon that made all of these things different this year for fans like me: 24/7 access to players and media alike. This story is about the wildest of rides: Being a #12thMan on Twitter.

With thousands representing the 12th Man in the Twitterverse, I know I’m not alone in what a unique experience #12sfollow12s offered.

Like many 40 somethings, I went to my first game in the Kingdome during the Seahawks inaugural season. I was 6 years old. I live in San Diego now, and have been here for about eight years, but thanks to the Internet, NFL Sunday Ticket, and a local Seahawks bar, I don’t feel any less a part of The 12th Man movement than I did while I lived in Seattle.

This year, though, my connection to other fans reached new, unfathomable levels. It happened because I began to dabble in Twitter for the first time. Oh, what a time it was.

As the playoffs began, anyone on Twitter “Hash-tagging” their messages #GoHawks, or #12thMan followed each other. Seahawk fans followed me, I followed them, and we all began sharing stories and bashing San Francisco, Washington and Atlanta fans in a tidal wave of loyalty.

I have always aspired to write, so not only did I enjoy the common connection with other fans, but I enjoyed seeing some of my tweets get retweeted, or responded to by those who thought my tweets deserved to be seen.

Another amazing rush from Twitter is when someone with some celebrity cache, responds to you or retweets you. “They chose my tweet!” I’d think. I was lucky enough to have this happen to me more than a few times during Seattle’s run.

Feeling more confident, I gave myself a moniker: Vitamin D 4 Seatown. I played on the fact that even though I live in San Diego I was dedicated to sending “sunny” Seattle sports commentary to my fellow Seattle sports fans.

Sure enough, I had 150 new followers in no time.

From the week leading to the Washington game, through the final play of in Atlanta, tweeting with the 12s was a 24/7 gig. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t find time for more important things. I hadn’t felt this way since I was kid talking about Dave Kreig, Steve Largent, Dr. Dan Doornink and Curt Warner all day with my school buddies.

I felt irresponsible, too. I lost sleep, paid very little attention to my family and 15-week-old child and neglected my work while riding a Twitter train along with the 12th Man through the Seahawks’ playoff run.

I was a Twitter addict.

But I didn't care. I knew another Seahawks win was just around the corner to justify my single-mindedness and childish attachment to the dream of winning it all. And believe me, Twitter made it more than clear, I was not alone on this fantastic break from reality.

My life was changed completely by the combination of Twitter and a Super Bowl run by my lifelong favorite team, with hundreds of new friends sharing the magic with me.

Then the unthinkable happened. In 2 minutes of real time, 31 seconds of game time, it all came crashing down. The Seahawk ride. The twitter ride. The story line. It all vanished in a flash.

Perhaps just to torture myself further, I logged into Twitter.

Within seconds, tweet after tweet poured in; anger, disgust, disbelief oozing through each hastily written entry. My hands shook as I expressed via smartphone keyboard the utter sense of defeat I felt. Before I could type a single letter, one tweet flashed across my touch-screen that stood out so clearly it could have been displayed on my 42-inch HD flat-screen.

It was a tweet from Seahawks Punter Jon Ryan, @JonRyan9: “Can’t quite explain how much this one hurts. Thanks for the support #12thman. We’ll be back and even better next season.”

There it was, access to the team. A target for the anger. An avenue to give a player and his team a piece of my mind. It couldn’t have been more real if I was standing in the Georgia Dome with a press pass around my neck. This was Twitter at its most valuable and dangerous – all at once. He tweeted to all of the fans, but in that moment he was all mine.

And, damned it, after the mind-blowing loss I had just endured, he unknowingly stepped right in my Twitter line of fire.

I tweeted back in a blind rage: “@JonRyan9 u choked! Sorry. 3 plays a game and u yacked it. Loss not ur fault but lets be real, u didnt be u!”

I never keyed words so swiftly in my life. I never used the term “yacked” for a shanked punt before in my life. And before I even had a second to think twice, I hit send.

Little did I know, I was about to see myself in the mirror for the first time, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.

My twitter alert buzzed: “@JonRyan9 has followed you.”

Next, I received a notification: “you have a direct message from @JonRyan9”. Until two twitter members follow each other, they cannot email each other directly. Jon Ryan, the punter for the Seahawks, took the time to write a private message to me, a random fan, who gave him a piece of his mind.

His direct message read in several entries:

“Come on dude. Think any one wants to hear this negative crap right (now)? I understand ur frustration but do u honestly think anyone hurt more than us right now? And I understand where ur coming from. The 12thman has come to expect a lot from me. I’m proud of that. I didn’t deliver today. I’ll be the Very first person to admit that. I didn’t hit that first one like I wanted to. But u can bet I’ll be working my ass off this offseason. Anyways, thanks for being a 12thman.”

I read his words, slumped on my couch, choked up a bit.

Twitter had given me the false sense that I had a right to say whatever came to my mind, to any sports star or celebrity. In the heat of the moment, anything went. I believed fans like me deserved to vent when their heroes let them down. Twitter made it possible. Go ahead, give him or her a piece of your mind. Nobody gets hurt. Just get it all off your chest.

Feeling horrible, I decided to message Jon back, privately of course.

I wrote in several direct messages: “@jonryan9 Wouldn’t want u on any other team. Or any of ur mates. I see myself as a fan in the mirror, and I hate that i didnt praise the ride. Should have thanked this team and u for the ride. Can tell i hurt u. If it makes u feel better, would trade places with you yesterday, and my life would still be better today.”

I felt better about myself almost as soon as I sent it.

Ryan didn’t answer me immediately, but the next day he accepted my apology. This time, I'll keep exactly what he said between the two of us.

If you’d like to write a Take 2 post, email Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com


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