easy to take the things we enjoy for granted.
For those of us who call Seahawks Nation our home every
year, it is the journey from autumn ritual to the
championship chase that keeps us going. The camaraderie of
passionate fan-friends, the visceral presence of the
crowd, the fantastic play, the “Oooooohhhhh!!!” hit – the
things that make the NFL experience so special are laid
out before us every Sunday from August through January as
the earned entitlements of a city that has renewed its
love of its’ team. The Seahawks are now as much a part of
Seattle as fish-throwing, REI gear, and the half-decaf,
180-degree, soy, light chocolate, light-whip, one-Equal
In the case of the Seattle Seahawks, many may not know, or
care to remember, just exactly how close the Emerald City
came to losing its NFL franchise less than a decade ago.
It’s understandable to sublimate those mental pictures of
moving vans rolling out of HQ – some memories are painful
enough that recounting them brings about thoughts too
close to the edge, even if the stories are retold years
And if you’re a relatively new convert to the Tao of the
Hawk? Well, the story told here isn’t told often anymore.
Maybe you came on board in the later years of the Holmgren
era and prefer to look to the future.
Given the past, few could blame you.
What is an unforgivable sin (and what has only truly been
brought to light, as with so many other stories, in the
wake of Bob Whitsitt’s departure) is the cavalier,
dismissive and downright ungrateful way in which fans –
the devoted individuals who have given estimable chunks of
their lives to the idea that the dissolution of a marriage
between a team and a city is not open for discussion –
have been treated. What would surprise and disgust many
who believe in the Seahawks is the contempt with which
they had been held by the post-Behring regime under
Although so many aspects of the team’s future are
currently up in the air, there still should be time –
right now - to look back, pick up those who were pushed
down by Whitsitt and his henchmen, and make amends to the
diehards, without whom the Seattle Seahawks would be
nothing more than a distant, bitter memory.
Allow a man by the name of Mark Collins to tell you why,
Collins was the originator of “Save Our Seahawks”, quite
possibly the single most politically effective grassroots
campaign in the odious history of franchise upheaval. You
will read much in this interview of what Mr. Collins
has done, and what has been done to him.
All I wish to add is that if anyone from the Seahawks
organization is actually reading this…
what are you waiting for?
Do the right thing. And take
this man's story to heart.
Tell us about your passion for the team. When did you
become a Seahawks fan, and what are your favorite early
I’ve been a Seahawks fan since day one back in 1976. My
mother actually owned the tickets the
first two years, but I took them over in 1978. I never
missed attending a home game and never missed an away game
on TV. Loved those Hawks win or lose!
I used to love the Wave and how loud it got in the
Kingdome! I remember one game against Atlanta when they
stopped the game for ten minutes because of the crowd
noise. Favorite early memories…boy there are tons,
but the first trip to the playoffs under Chuck Knox (in
1983) was an awfully fun ride!
What were your initial impressions of Ken Behring when he
bought the team?
I actually met Ken at a bar in Pioneer Square right after
he bought the team. I thought he was a nice man and that
he wanted to bring a winner to Seattle. Guess I was wrong!
When did you first hear the worm turned and it was obvious
that Behring wanted to move the team to
It was during the 1995 season. In fact it seemed like
about every other week there was another rumor on the news
that he was moving the team to California. He always
denied the rumors, but after a while I knew there had to
be some truth to them.
How did “Save Our Seahawks” begin? Who was involved with
you in the formation?
The day after the Raiders game in the Kingdome (we kicked
their butts by the way) on December 17, 1995. I was
watching the 11:00 pm news and once again, there was
another rumor that Ken was moving the team to California.
I had had enough. I instantly sat down and wrote Behring a
letter letting him know that I was forming ‘Save Our
Seahawks’ and that I vowed to be his worst nightmare and
never let him move the Seahawks out of Seattle. Actually,
he was faxed the third draft because my lawyer made me
clean up the first two. I also sent copies to all the
media in the Seattle area.
I went to a friend of mine, Dean Olsby, who owned The
Little Red Hen restaurant by Greenlake in Seattle and
talked him into teaming up with me. We put a donation jar
at the bar. Most people thought I was crazy, but some did
throw a few dollars in the jar just to shut me up.
It wasn’t until some six weeks later (February 2, 1996)
when Ken made his move and my life changed forever.
Cameras, microphones, etc., etc.! I had no experience with
the media, but I had to learn fast!
When did you file the class-action suit against Behring?
How did that resolve itself?
In December of 1995, I asked my lawyer who the best class
action attorney in the area was. He told me to contact
Steve Burman’s office. It turned out that Steve wasn’t
just the best in the area -- he was one of
the best in the country. I contacted his office, told him
my intentions and believe it or not, he said he would take
the case if Ken did in fact try to move the team. So we
were somewhat prepared when Ken made the announcement that
he was moving the team. Ken made the announcement on
Friday, February 2, 1996. We filed the class action suit
the following Wednesday. The suit was withdrawn as part of
the final deal when Paul Allen officially took over the
team on July 1, 1997.
Were you encouraged by the Mariners’ new involvement with
Nintendo’s ownership? Did the Mariners’ situation help
your case in any way?
I thought that was great, though I was always more of a
Seahawk fan than a Mariner fan. The Mariner stadium deal
and the way it was put together after the “Home Town Fans”
campaign lost their election probably hurt us some. People
didn’t like that the stadium deal was shoved down their
throats after they voted it down. It just meant we had to
work a little harder to get the message out about the
Seahawks new stadium and win that election!
The Mariners organization was actually very helpful to
Save Our Seahawks. They let us campaign and register
voters outside the Kingdome before their games and even
gave my volunteers tickets to the games. They did have one
stipulation, though. If they saw Bob Gogerty or anyone
associated with his portion of the campaign on the
property, we would all be asked to leave and not come
back. Bob was hired by Paul Allen to run the ‘It’s
Our Team / Our Team Works’ campaign, he also ran the ‘Home
Town Fans’ campaign for the Mariners that lost. My guess
was that they had some kind of falling out, but I didn’t
What sort of dialogue did you have with people in the
front office during the “S.O.S.” movement?
Initially there was no dialogue with the front office
because we were suing Ken Behring and he was still the
owner. I did run into (Seahawks Vice President of
Administration/Public Relations) Gary Wright at a function
honoring the late sportscaster Wayne Cody once early on in
the campaign. He came up to me and said, off the record,
“Keep up the good work and keep up the pressure.”
What was the team’s reaction to the movement? The former
front office? Paul Allen? Bob Whitsitt?
After Paul Allen came into the picture and bought the
option to buy the team, that all changed. They became very
helpful and we worked together very well, even though we
were separate from the “It’s Our Team/Our Team Works”
campaign. We were fighting for the fans and their
interests in regards to the new stadium, etc. The few
times that I met Paul Allen, he seemed very nice. I don’t
have a bad word to say about
the man. Bob Whitsitt? Well, let’s just say we were
cordial to each other but there was no love lost. Bob
treated me as a second-class citizen, as I think he thinks
all sports fans are. I’ll just leave it at that.
Did you interact with any players?
Yes, many – both current and alumni. Probably worked with
more alumni players during the campaign because they had
more time to do so. Many of them went out with the Sea
Gals and us on our Sports Bars
tour to get the message out to vote for the new stadium
and to register new voters. Let’s just say, “We Had A Lot
of FUN!” More on that when the book comes out (laughs).
Did you interact with local politicians?
Oh, yes! Too many to count. Learned more about politics
than I wanted to know. Lots of egos! If the general public
knew what goes on behind closed doors, there would be more
than tea in the bay!
What were the best moments of the campaign for you?
Flying down to California to picket outside the practice
facility at Rams Park early on was fun. Working with Rod
Long, the players and the Sea Gals on our Sports Bar Tour
was a blast. Meeting all the Seahawk fans and hearing
their stories was incredible. Winning the election on June
17, 1997 was a huge relief.
I imagine there were discouraging times along the way as
well. Could you tell us about the rough spots?
There were a lot of highs and lows along the way, like
riding a roller coaster at times. I’m a fairly positive
person though and try to look for positives in life and
not negatives. Let’s just say there were rough spots, but
the bottom line is the Seahawks still are the Seattle
Seahawks and that’s all that matters.
January 16 article in the Seattle Times,
“Whitsitt’s Firing Removes a
mentioned that you went greatly out of pocket during the “S.O.S.”
campaign. How much money? How was that money spent?
Let’s just say that before Save Our Seahawks, I owned my
home free and clear. After it was all over, I had to
mortgage my home for over $100,000.00. Some of the money
was used to offset early campaign costs that were not
covered by the small donations that we received and the
profits from selling SOS T-shirts. For the most part, I
took a year and a half off of work to run Save Our
Seahawks because it in and of itself was a full-time job
without any pay. I borrowed heavily against credit lines,
etc. just to pay my bills and to pay my daily personal
expenses while running Save Our Seahawks. Would a sane man
have done this? Probably not, but in December 1995, I said
I was going to save the Seahawks for Seattle. Being a man
of my word, I followed it through to fruition even though
it cost me dearly.
Something that I don’t think everyone is aware of and that
I am very proud of is that everyone that worked on
and for Save Our Seahawks was a volunteer. There were no
paid employees! We were registered with the State of
Washington as a non-profit organization - and through our
efforts, we were able to raise thousands of dollars for
the Pete Gross House and the Fred Hutch Cancer Research
Was there ever any talk of the organization reimbursing
you besides the season tickets?
No, never - never asked them to, either.
Who originally told you that you would receive season
tickets for life, and when?
Bud Coffey, on election night, after we won the election.
Bud told me, “ We could not have won this without you. I
will make sure you never have to pay for Seahawks tickets
ever again.” Bud used to be a bigwig
at Boeing and then was a major political lobbyist. He was
a big part of the campaign and worked directly with Bob
Whitsitt, Paul Allen and Bob Gogerty.
Who first told you
that this was not the case, and how did that process
A week after the election, (Vice President of Community
Relations) Mike Flood said that they were going to give me
tickets for six years. I didn’t argue and figured, “why
fight them?”, but I was thinking differently. About a
month later, the head of the ticket office at the time
(who is no longer with the organization) came to see me at
The Little Red Hen (where I was performing with my band)
and said that Bob Whitsitt was trying to take my tickets
away from me and that I should look into it. I called Mike
Flood and asked what was up and
that I had heard rumors. He said “Oh yeah – I made a
mistake. I meant to tell you we’re giving you tickets for
the first year and the sixth year, not all six years.”
That’s when I called B.S. He eventually backed off that
and they did give me tickets for six years. Though I did
hear that Bob Whitsitt was not happy about it.
Did you or anyone else from S.O.S. receive anything from
the organization after the Seahawks were safely back in
I got my tickets paid for the six years and a leather
Seahawks jacket that is too big, so I’ve never worn it.
Patti “Mama Blue” Hammond got her tickets paid for two
years and Bev Hauptli (Save Our Seahawks PR person) got
her tickets paid for one year.
What was the tone of the encounters you had with Bob
Whitsitt and other members of the Seahawks’ front office?
Did the relationship somehow degrade over time?
For the most part, I had a good relationship with most of
the front office.
As I mentioned before, Bob and myself were cordial with
each other. Though ever since our first meeting (a
luncheon meeting with Gary Wright and others in April of
1996), I found Bob to be very arrogant and felt that he
looked at me and treated me as a second-class citizen. I
believe Bob thinks that about fans of professional sports.
What Bob and all of professional sports needs to remember
is that what got them where they are is
truly "The Blue Collar Fan."
As far as the relationship degrading over time, let’s put
it this way. I personally spent a year and a half of my
life and went deeply in debt to keep the Seahawks here
only to be treated as a second-class citizen. We’re
now made to feel: “We're done with you now, Just Go Away.”
Now that all is said and done, are you still a diehard? Do
you still go to games?
Oh yes, I still love my Seahawks. Crazy diehard like
before? Well, maybe not as much. I didn’t go to
all the games at Husky Stadium, but I do go to the games
at the new stadium when I’m not out performing with my
band. The only games I missed this year were the two
preseason games because I was not in town.
If you had it all to do over again, would you have gotten
involved to the extent you did? Any regrets?
Boy, that’s a hard question. I think I would have to say
yes. I would do it over again - with a few changes,
though. Regrets? Some, but all in all I met some very good
friends, so that makes up for the regrets.
How do you feel now about the part you played in keeping
the Seahawks in Seattle?
I’m proud of what I did. My only wish is that the Seahawk
Organization would acknowledge the Save Our Seahawks
organization and what they did to keep the Seahawks in
Seattle. You know a plaque or something at the stadium
would be really cool – nice even!
To finish up, tell us a little about yourself – your life
now, your job, – and are you still in touch with the other
key members of “S.O.S.”?
Well, let’s see. I was born on July 1, 1956 in Seattle, so
that makes me a native. Grew up in south Seattle near
Seward Park and have lived on Beacon Hill in the same
house since 1974. I have a 20-year-old daughter, Shaekira,
that I am very proud of – she’s going to school over in
Spokane at Gonzaga. I’m married to
a great lady, Jen, who unfortunately last spring was
diagnosed (at 34 years old) with lung cancer. Check out
her story at “www.jensfriends.com”
I am a self-employed contractor and have been since 1979.
I own C & C Construction specializing in residential
remodeling in the Seattle area and I have two part time
employees as needed. Need some remodeling done?
Let us know - we’re in the phone book.
The one thing that has always been a
big part of my life has been music. Right after Save Our
ended, I joined a band,
and have been playing drums with them for the past seven
only am I the drummer, but I’m also the bandleader,
webmaster, etc., etc. In addition to trying to put on
great performances, we also try to give back to our
community by raising money for various charities. Most
recently, we raised a thousand dollars for the Tsunami
Relief Fund. Check out the band and our music at
Yes, I very much keep in touch with the main people from
Save Our Seahawks.
who sits right next to my wife and myself at the Seahawks
games. Bev was the Public Relations person for Save Our
Seahawks and a great lady who also does public relations
work for the Tulalip Tribes in Marysville, WA. and
continues to try to keep me politically correct!
one of the Northwest and the nation’s funniest sports
comedians. Rod and I worked together since almost day one.
Great friend, great comedian and if you ever get the
chance to see one of his shows live –
don’t pass it up! Very, very funny man! Check out his
Then there is the infamous
Patti “Mama Blue” Hammond.
The craziest, funniest 74-year-old great grandmother you
that you would ever want to meet. I’ll tell you, you will
never meet a bigger Seahawk fan than this lady - and she
makes The Best Damn Homemade Garlic Pickles in the world!
Had I not done Save Our Seahawks, I would have never known
any of these wonderful people!
Thanks for being interested in the
behind-the-scenes story of Save Our Seahawks. As you
probably know, this is only the surface of the whole
story. It was a true grassroots fan-based effort that
worked! Go Seahawks!
If you'd like to share Seahawks anecdotes with Mark
Collins, or if you'd like to know more of the Save Our
Seahawks story, feel free to e-mail him at
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief
of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at