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In loyalty-splintered abodes from Seattle to Denver to parts beyond, a football divide only widens this weekend as backers of the bird and rooters of the horse throw down under the same rooflines. A prank here. A taunt there. Green over here. Orange over there.
But among families and couples temporarily wedged by these partisan passions, two things still bond them. There is, symbolically, a shared affection for blue – a primary color in the uniforms of both the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. Even more, there is love, something that no final score can break.
For sweet evidence, we give you 8-year-old Cassidy Gillespie. She adores Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. His poster hangs in her room in Leavenworth, Wash. As her dad recently cheered his beloved Broncos on TV, Cassidy realized she had a problem.
She grabbed a marker and dashed off a note. She folded it four ways and quietly handed it to him: “Dear Dad, I don’t want you to be mad at me if I like the Seahawks better than Broncows. Cassidy.”
“She’s a very sweet girl. She didn’t want to hurt my feelings,” said Dr. Kelly Gillespie, a family practitioner and father of two girls who attended high school in the Denver area, sparking his Broncos allegiance. On Jan. 9, he posted a photo of that note on Facebook with the words “Go Broncows!” The sentiment has earned 77 likes to date.
“During the game, she’s planning to wear one of my Broncos hats and her Seahawks jersey,” Gillespie said. “She’s trying to find some balance.”
Still, other domestic rivalries have fueled slightly more biting banter, along with some playful capers.
Outside the Seattle-area home of Erika Kelly and Todd Sylvester, she keeps her two Seahawks garden gnomes, and he's planted a Broncos gnome.
On top of their pre-game trash talks of late, Kelly swiped that Broncos figurine, took it her to her office, snapped a picture and promptly sent the image to Todd with a message: “This is where your gnome’s at.” Todd got even, and then some. He snached one of her gnomes from the yard, wrapped string around its feet, hung it upside-down and affixed one end of that thin line to the tiny hooves of a plastic Broncos toy. Cowboy style.
“It’s been fun for us. No matter what, one of us is going to be happy, so it’s going to be a good outcome,” said Sylvester, born in Denver. He moved to Seattle about 15 years ago. “But we’re making it a point to have a Super Bowl party at the house – because of the split in the house.”
Of course, their planned buffet will only offer an extra taste of their teasing: Kelly is making “Bronco meat chili” (hamburger) while Sylvester is serving “Hawk meat chili” (chicken).
On a southwestern fringe of Denver, similar Super Bowl sparks are flying between Amber “Scottie” Sweet, a Washington State transplant, and her boyfriend, Greg Fowler, a Colorado native who’s been attending Broncos games since age 8.
Sweet admits she’s far more raucous in her Seahawks devotion when compared to Fowler’s “conservative” style of rooting. Then again, she believes that aligns perfectly with the fan bases and locker-room tenors of both teams. Think: Richard Sherman versus Peyton Manning.
“The Seahawks are very emotional. The Broncos are all business. Greg’s like a Bronco, very analytical, he likes stats. Me, I’m an emotional person,” Sweet said. “We barely talk about (the game) and when we do, it’s kind of a sensitive subject and then it’s like, ‘OK, let’s talk about something else real quick.’ ”
For that reason, they’ve chosen – for them – a radical way to watch the Super Bowl. Apart. Sweet will be jammed with hundreds of fellow Seahawks fans into their chosen Denver haunt, an upscale bowling alley downtown. Fowler is still unsure where he'll watch the game.
“I just don’t want to say anything in front of him that I’m going to regret,” Sweet explained. “If he loses, Greg’s my heart. If he loses, instead of me being jubilant because my team won, I’m going to be a little bit sad for him.”