*As a part of rivalry week and “hate week,” I give you a special look into my past as I detail the origin and evolution of my hatred of the San Francisco 49ers*
Ask a Green Bay Packers fan what they think about the Chicago Bears. Ask a New York Giants fan what they think about the Dallas Cowboys. Ask a Baltimore Ravens fan what they think about the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fans of these teams would probably go on a rant about every single little detail they hate about their rival team. Now ask a Seattle Seahawks fan what they think about the San Francisco 49ers. Just the thought of answering that question would make many Seahawks fans want to puke, myself included.
But what if I were to tell you there was a time where I actually vaguely respected the San Francisco 49ers?
When I was 10 years old the Seahawks were still in the AFC West. We would play San Francisco in the regular season once every three or four years but we would see them almost every year in the preseason. The 49ers were scheduled to come to Husky Stadium to play the Seahawks in the 2000 preseason and I told my dad that if there was one team I wanted to see and one game I wanted to go to, it would be San Francisco in the preseason. I wanted to see Jerry Rice play against the Seahawks because I was a fan of the way Rice played the game. Unfortunately I did not get to go to the game but I watched on television as the Seahawks beat San Francisco 25-21.
Fast forward two seasons to 2002. The Seahawks are now in the NFC West with the 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals, and the St. Louis Rams. The Seahawks struggled to create a strong rivalry with any of these teams until 2004 when the Rams beat the Seahawks three times. Even though the 12th Man focused their hatred primarily on St. Louis, I always held a grudge against the San Francisco 49ers. Even today it is hard to pinpoint exactly why. Maybe it was the infamous “Sharpie touchdown” Terrell Owens scored against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football in 2002. Or maybe it was the fact that as a young boy I was envious of their 5 Super Bowl championships and the storied history that the Seahawks did not have.
In October 2003 I went to my first Seahawks/49ers game with my dad; at home on Sunday Night Football. We beat the 49ers 21-20 but the primetime atmosphere and the fans around me showed, to an extent, maybe why I held a dislike for the 49ers. There were two 49ers fans a couple rows down from us. As the game went on everyone around us became more and more belligerent. The only trash talk that surfaced from the men in their red 49ers jerseys was about their championships, and several off-color inappropriate statements, even for a 13-year old like me to hear.
It was going to be a tradition for me and my dad to go to one regular season Seahawks game together each season in our new stadium. This experience ruined that tradition. I did not go to another regular season game with my dad until I became a season ticket holder in 2006.
Because the Seahawks and 49ers were not good at the same time for the first few years together in the NFC West, the rivalry was pretty muted and I only displayed a dislike for the 49ers, much like my dislike of our other division rival Arizona.
That’s when everything changed.
In 2007, my insubstantial dislike turned into authentic hatred.
My dad and I flew down to San Francisco in September 2007 for the Seahawks week 4 game against the 49ers at Candlestick Park (Monster Park at the time). Remember this was in the middle of the 49ers stretch of mediocrity in the 2000’s but even though this was my first ever road Seahawks game I was not expecting the hostile environment that greeted me that sunny September day along the Bay. After tailgating with a small group of Seahawks fans the two of us took the long walk from the back of the stadium parking lot into the stadium. It is a straight street that leads directly to the gate and as you walk you have 49ers fans tailgating, lining the street along the concrete barriers on each side of you. This walk was one of the most intimidating moments of my fanhood as I heard everything from verbal threats, chants of “sea chickens” and “seacocks,” and even in some serious, drunken cases, objects (mostly food) thrown in our direction. The Seahawks won the game 23-3 but I remember telling my dad on the way back to the car “could you imagine if we had LOST the game? We wouldn’t have gotten out of here alive!”
Fast forward to present day. The Seahawks and 49ers are co-contenders for both the NFC West title and the NFC championship. Head coaches Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh have a personal rivalry that extends back to their days as college coaches, and the rivalry between fans of both teams has blossomed from petty “trash talk” hate to “I am going to kick your 49er ass” hate (If you’ve been to a Seahawks/49ers game you know what I am talking about.)
I may hate the concrete dump that is Candlestick Park (like Ian Furness from 950 KJR stated, “I’ve had a better experience in a port-o-potty”). I may hate the fact that San Francisco’s history is consistently thrown in my face for no good reason (no Seahawks fan gives a flying f**k about your 5 Super Bowl rings). I may hate Jim Harbaugh (prick), Colin Kaepernick (douche bag), and the rest of the 49ers’ roster, but if you asked me today why I hate the San Francisco 49ers, there is no question that the primary reason is the classlessness and disrespect displayed by the “Niner Empire.” I have been to Seahawks road games in 5 different cities and the disrespect that is dished by 49ers fans completely trumps the banter that I have heard in the other cities I have been to combined. It truly is not even close. When people talk about places they would never see their team play in, Oakland and Philadelphia immediately come to mind because of the verbal and sometimes physical abuse those fan bases are infamously known for. In my opinion, San Francisco and Candlestick Park is the worst experience an NFL fan could possibly endure. You might ask “if it is as bad as you say it is, then why do you even bother going down to San Francisco?” The answer is easy. My love for the Seahawks is too strong to keep me from going into enemy territory to cheer on my team. Over the past two seasons, I have been to every game, both home and away, between these two teams and I am going to both games again this season. Over the course of these four games, I have lost more and more respect (among the little respect I initially had) of 49er fans from both a general and personal perspective. There is definitely a reason why undercover cops are forced to be used at 49ers home games to try to eliminate the unnecessary amount of unruly behavior among their fans. Here are some interactions I have noticed between 49ers and Seahawks fans over the past two years:
- September 2011: A 49ers fan mocks my red head afro at Candlestick Park.
- September 2011: A drunken 49ers fan threatens to throw a fellow Seahawks fan off a Candlestick Park escalator. (The Seahawk fan was ignoring him the entire time and did absolutely nothing to bring that threat upon himself).
- September 2011: A 49ers fan yells “BOOO” from kissing distance away from my face.
- December 2011: A 49ers fan sitting behind me at CenturyLink Field disrespectfully dictates me to sit down and threatens to call security.
- October 2012: During tailgating at Candlestick Park, a 49ers fan playing catch retrieves the overthrown football in my general vicinity. He threatens me not to touch the ball.
- October 2012: More “ginger” jokes made towards me at Candlestick Park.
- December 2012: Security is called to my seats at CenturyLink Field due to unruly behavior in the seat next to me, opening up the possibility that another appearance by security would result in me getting ejected from the stadium and me losing the right to my season tickets.
The rivalry between the Seahawks and 49ers is destined to heat up both on and off the field in the coming months and probably the coming years. If you are attending this week’s game or ever attend a game between the Seahawks and 49ers in the future here are some rules I follow that you should consider following also:
- Never go out of your way to make an opposing fan angry, especially on the road.
- In enemy territory, stick to cheering on your team only. On the road, leave it to other fans to boo the opponent because you are always outnumbered.
- Never make banter and trash talk personal. Nothing positive ever comes out of making it personal.
- Avoid cussing and excessive drinking. Heavy drinking contributed to the majority of those negative interactions mentioned earlier.
- Never stab anyone in the parking lot.
I believe it is healthy to have rivals and to have dislike and even hatred towards an opposing team. That is a big part of what makes NFL football so special and unique. My personal experiences have shaped my hatred of the San Francisco 49ers to a level that makes me cringe whenever I see or hear something that paints the 49ers in a positive light. If you have ever been to a Seahawks/49ers game I hope you know where I am coming from when I detail the evolution of my hatred of the San Francisco 49ers.