During a 2020 season unlike any other, the Seahawks managed to finish with a 12-4 record, including going 7-1 at home, to capture their first NFC West title since 2016, earning the NFC's No. 3 seed in the postseason. But they achieved this success missing an important ingredient with fans unable to attend games at Lumen Field due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they won't have to play another game without the backing of the 12s on their home turf. Granted approval from state and local officials in Washington as well as the NFL, they will welcome back full-capacity crowds for the 2021 season.
While some teams ended up allowing a limited number of fans to attend games, the Seahawks were one of 10 teams that did not have any fans in the stadium for the entire 2020 season due to state and local protocols. It was a major loss for the franchise, stripping them of one of the best homefield advantages in the league, including for a home playoff loss to the Rams in January.
Last week during Seattle's minicamp, coach Pete Carroll expressed his excitement for having fans back at games, saying, ""Can't wait to see the 12s. I know they're coming, I know somebody is going to be in those stands. Can't wait to get you out there."
Star receiver Tyler Lockett, who produced his second straight 1,000-yard season in 2020, echoed Carroll's sentiments, adding, "You never know what it's like to not have something until you don't have it. And when we didn't have the fans, you could tell it was different… It taught me how not to take fans for granted, but how to be able to enjoy and be appreciative that people are actually there. So I'm excited for the fans to come back. I'm really excited just to be able to go out there. I always call it a concert because that's what it feels like ever since I first stepped on that football field. And so when the fans come back, it's time to get it going."
Per NFL and Washington state guidelines, the Seahawks will not require fans to be vaccinated to attend games next fall. However, unvaccinated fans will be required to wear a mask and the organization will continue to encourage as many people to get vaccinated as possible.
With training camp less than six weeks away, Carroll indicated last week that he expected close to 70 percent of Seattle's players and coaches to be vaccinated by the end of the week. To this point, every member of the team's coaching staff has been vaccinated and he remains hopeful every player will be by the time camp opens to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy.
Further details about game day operations and protocols will be released by the Seahawks in coming days. In an additional sign of things returning to normal, the team is also expected to make an announcement about fans returning to training camp practices in the near future.