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With expectations for the Seahawks so high since before the season even started, fans have been following the team closer than ever. But you'd be hard pressed to find anyone more dedicated than Michael Stentz Jr., a Seattle super fan who quit his job and attended every game this year from the preseason through the NFC Championship, both home and away.
The journey started last summer when Stentz decided he needed a break after working tirelessly for a local software company over the past 18 years.
"I had turned 44 and needed to do something different," he says. A longtime Seahawks season ticket holder, the Burien man wasn't sure what he would do. He'd been getting excited about the upcoming season and suddenly inspiration struck. "I just had this epiphany I should go to every single game."
That weekend, he got out the schedule and booked flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars in every single city the Seahawks would travel to for the 2013 season.
"I just thought, you know what, this is the time, this is it. This is the time to go all in."
It's been a consuming adventure. Stentz' travels have taken him to San Diego, Green Bay, Saint Louis, Phoenix, San Francisco, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Houston, New York, and Charlotte. All told, he estimates he will have flown 50,000 miles, and driven another 5,000.
"Needless to say, I've hit Premier Silver status with United Airlines this fall."
He's met plenty of players and made countless new friends and acquaintances along the way. He says getting to know GM John Schneider in Green Bay was among his highlights.
"We talked and he was very intrigued about my whole story, so that was fun," he says.
Stentz won't say how much he's spent on his Seahawks splurge, but the single father of two admits he's put a serious dent in his savings. So he must be rich, right? Stentz insists he's not.
"It was really just saving up, not making a ton of money but just kind of being frugal over the years and living beneath my means," he says.
Win or lose, Stentz' Seahawks saga will come to an end next Sunday at MetLife Stadium, where he paid $4,600 for a single seat to the Super Bowl. Then, he admits his party is coming to an abrupt end.
"I'm running low here and as soon as the Super Bowl thing is over, I need to start thinking about employment again," he sighs.
But he says the expense and effort have been well worth it, with his beloved Seahawks providing a lifetime of thrills and memories.
"No matter what, this experience can never ever be replaced or taken from me. I mean this is a once in a lifetime thing," he says. "It's been a great life exercise in saying you know what, let's just live right now and just have a ton of fun and do it as great as I can do it."
Stentz says the highlights include flying his mother from New Jersey in November to see the Seahawks come back to beat the Buccaneers, sitting front row and getting a VIP tour of the VMAC, and taking his brother to see the Seahawks and Giants for his birthday at MetLife Stadium in December.
"I was treated amazingly well by fans of our opponents in every single away city that I visited with one exception - San Francisco," he says. "It was like walking through a riot once the game ended. I had no fewer than five different 49ers fans scream in my face, curse at me and try to start fights. It was terrible."
There's just one thing that would make it better. A Super Bowl win. And a job.
Update: Turns out Stentz isn't the only one who has attended every Seahawks game this season. Seahawks fan Ed Lambert has also been to all the games and blogged about it at: http://www.tsoep.com/