The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will be facing off in New Jersey in Super Bowl XLVIII this weekend. In Los Angeles there will also be a contest, of two rival sports bars.
Now, before we go any further I have to confess that I was born and raised in Seattle and I’m a lifelong Seahawks fan. I sometimes fly back on the weekends for games. From my experience, fans at The Backstage Bar and Grill, in Culver City, are every bit as rabid – if not sometimes more so - than the ones in Seattle.
Backstage has become Seahawks central in Southern California thanks to Cedric James Morris. Eight years ago, he started the L.A. Seahawks fan group, which has grown to almost 900 members.
“I never knew there were so many Seahawks fans in L.A., and they show up and I’m like, ‘this actually works,’” said Morris, standing outside Backstage recently, in a Richard Sherman jersery. “Ever since then, it’s just snowballed.”
Morris isn’t even from Seattle. He hails from Utah, which like L.A., lacks an NFL team. As a kid wanting to be a running back he became a big fan of Curt Warner, not the famous quarterback Kurt Warner, but the more obscure running back who played seven seasons for the Seahawks.
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Like any coach, Morris addresses his team at halftime every Sunday, giving a pep talk to those who pack into Backstage.
Here he was during the NFC Championship game, when the Seahawks trailed San Francisco by a touchdown.
The Seahawks have become famous for having the loudest fans in the NFL, and Backstage has become a semi famous as well, earning shout-outs from head coach Pete Carroll on Twitter.
Relatives of Seahawks players who live in Southern California regularly stop by the bar when they can’t see the games in-person, including cornerback Richard Sherman’s parents, cornerback Walter Thurmond’s dad, and defensive tackle Brendon Mebane’s uncle. Carroll’s daughter has come to the bar as well.
When Seattle played in San Francisco last month, much was made of the fact that a Seahawks banner flew over Candlestick Park. It didn’t come from the Northwest. Morris and his fellow L.A. Seahawks fans raised the money.
“Not only did we fly the banner, but we raised about $3,000 for charity,” said Morris. (The money went to The Wounded Warriors)
Fans have to show up hours early, before Backstage closes its doors, to avoid getting in trouble with the Culver City Fire Department.
If you can’t get in, Morris hands you a flier sending you down the road to an overflow Seahawks bar.
“On Sunday you could say Culver City is Seahawks blue,” said Morris. “There’s about four or five bars you’ll see Seahawks in.”