Indian Country Chooses Sides for Super Bowl XLVIII

manning_vs_shermanSource: Indian Country Today Media Network

The beginning, middle and end of the 2013 season had plenty of ups, downs and surprises for Native American NFL fans.

For starters, the Rams’ Sam Bradford, Cherokee, lost his season in October to a torn ACL. But there’s good news. According to, Bradford was cleared by the team’s medical staff to run on the treadmill on Wednesday, and ESPN reported that Les Snead, the Rams’ general manager, remains committed to Bradford as the starting QB for the 2014 season.

RELATED Rams QB Sam Bradford out for the Season, Team Needs Backup

A loss that Cherokee Nation fans could not recover from so quickly was the passing of Bud Adams. Adams, a Cherokee descent, was the founder of the Houston Oilers and owner of the Tennessee Titans who died in his Houston home at age 90.

On a happier note, Kansas City Chiefs backup QB Tyler Bray, citizen of the Potawatomi Nation, threw his first touchdown pass in the NFL while helping the Chiefs beat Green Bay 30-8. Who cares if it was a preseason game?

And speaking of Green Bay, don’t forget about the Native (and non-Native) Packers fans who braved freezing temperatures to make sure that the Washington Redskins did not get a warm welcome to Lambeau Field during the Packers home opener in September. Members of Wisconsin’s local chapter of Idle No More, various tribes, as well as local and national leaders led those demonstrations outside the stadium; perhaps achieving their own, personal dig at Dan Snyder’s decision to “Never — put that in CAPS” change the team’s name.

Protests against the nickname for the D.C. franchise started early and grew louder every week; many Natives protested at every away game for the ‘Redskins.’ This all became the fodder for a growing name-change debate; taking the Change the Mascot campaign from a grassroots organization to a national movement.

But, through the good and bad, the beginning and middle of the 2013 NFL season, the ending of the season was the most exciting and rewarding time for Indian Country.

The two most popular NFL franchises in Indian Country — the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos–will battle in the 48th Super Bowl — and Native fans are supporting them all the way.

“The most Native support used to be for the Dallas Cowboys,” said Ken Frost, Southern Ute, to ICTMN. “But it’s no longer America’s team.”

Frost said he’s been a hardcore Denver Bronco fan since he was a child. He’d holler and scream at the TV with his grandma. He said Natives in the West claim the Broncos because the team is in the “heart of Indian country” and close to several reservations.

Ken Frost tailgating at a Broncos game. Beside the "Broncos car" which has been around since the John Elway era. (Courtesy Kenny Frost)
Ken Frost tailgating at a Broncos game. Beside the “Broncos car” which has been around since the John Elway era. (Courtesy Kenny Frost)

It’s probably not a shock to hear that Frost picks Denver to prevail in the Super Bowl. “Peyton’s going to pick apart the Seattle defense,” he said over the phone. “Denver’s gonna win it. I think it’s gonna be around 37-23.”

Seahawk fans disagree.

“Alaskans support the Seahawks as if they are our team,” said Myrna Gardner, Tlingit Indian tribe, who flew into Seattle from Alaska to watch the NFC Championship game last week. “My love began when I was born. My whole family watched the Seahawks. I recall Steve Largent’s poster on the walls in the hallway at my parent’s house.”

“Being at the game, experiencing the power of the ’12th Man’ was a Bucket-list event,” said Gardner. “Representing Heinyaa Kwaan, ‘the water people from across the bay,’ was an honor,” she said.

Myrna Gardner and Debra Guerrero are Tlingit Haida Seahawks fans thrilled by the team's NFC victory. (Courtesy Myrna Gardner)
Myrna Gardner and Debra Guerrero are Tlingit Haida Seahawks fans thrilled by the team’s NFC victory. (Courtesy Myrna Gardner)

Chuck James, Treasurer of Tulalip Tribes, has been a Seahawks season-ticket holder for more than 30 years. He and his wife, Illene, attended last Sunday’s playoff game as well, and expect Seattle to take home the Lombardi trophy next week.

“The Seahawks have always been a big part of our lives here on the reservation and they’ve inspired our young people to want to compete and win,” James told ICTMN.

RELATED Excited for Super Bowl XLVIII! 10 Pics of Native Fans Rooting for Denver or Seattle

“If you go to the Tulalip Tribes administration building before a game, you’ll see the excitement, with everyone wearing Seahawks gear and showing pride. We even have tribal members who design Seahawks gear that is sold in our casino resort gift shop,” he said.

“Win or lose, the Seahawks are our team and we’ll be there to support them,” James said.



Brrrr! How will fans weather first cold-weather Super Bowl?

The Associated PressThis aerial photo shows MetLife Stadium, lower left, in East Rutherford, N.J., with the New York City skyline, top, not that far away in the background across cold marshlands.

The Associated Press
This aerial photo shows MetLife Stadium, lower left, in East Rutherford, N.J., with the New York City skyline, top, not that far away in the background across cold marshlands.

The debate heats up over Sunday’s first cold-weather Super Bowl, but Weather Channel’s Sam Champion thinks the game is a cool idea.

By Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times

NEW YORK – Don’t tell Sam Champion that a cold-weather Super Bowl was a bad idea.

As a former longtime, upbeat weatherman for ABC’s Good Morning America — who became a managing editor at The Weather Channel in December — Champion makes his living off wind-chill factors, snow, ice and everything else some had anticipated for Sunday’s game. He’s giddy about the prospect of a championship played in wintry conditions and figures all the talk of chilly weather talk has been part of the NFL’s plan from the very beginning.

“I think this is exactly what the NFL wanted,’’ Champion says. “It’s going back to the basics of football — a game played in the elements. It’s a tough game and it’s played in tough conditions. And people want to see that.

“I think people want to go back to that tangible feel of what it’s like to have sports played out in the elements.’’

This is the first time a Super Bowl will be outdoors anywhere but California or the South. And the naysayers have shaken their heads ever since that decision was made, fearing the league is leaving its showpiece event open to an all-out blitz by Mother Nature.

It didn’t help that frigid blizzard conditions blasted New York and New Jersey last week. This week, temperatures again plunged into the midteens, with wind chill in single digits.

Things are expected to be warmer Sunday, but Champion says the dire weather lead-up to the game — prompting speculation of possible postponements to Monday or Tuesday — has already accomplished what the league wanted.

“You’ve got that big buzz and big buildup to the game because people are worried about what the weather is going to be like,’’ he says.

In fact, the game conditions themselves shouldn’t be all that terrible for the players. Champion figures temperatures will be mainly in the low 30s — making it the coldest Super Bowl on record, though far warmer than the chilliest games in league history — with little chance of rain or snow.

“It’s almost like this beautiful oasis in the middle of all we’ve been seeing,’’ he says. “It’s almost like the seas are parting just in time for the game.’’

But it won’t exactly be balmy.

Champion warns fans will have to layer clothing, especially since the stands at Met Life Stadium tend to get damp breezes blowing in from surrounding marshlands. He doesn’t expect wind to have an impact on the game itself, but says it could make it feel up to 10 degrees colder for fans in certain seating sections.

A Woodinville-based company, BDA Inc., is helping fans stay warm by producing 84,000 “warm welcome kits’’ to be placed on every stadium seat before the gates open. The company designed commemorative seat cushions the past five Super Bowls as part of a longstanding merchandising partnership with the league, but this year was asked to supply the kits — containing ear muffs, gloves, lip balm, three pairs of hand warmers, a winter hat and even a small radio.

“I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done for the NFL,’’ says Seattle native and company CEO Jay Deutsch. “Everyone will want to take them home. These items are something that make nice collectibles.’’

Deutsch founded the company 30 years ago, partnering with the NFL to make Seahawks sweatshirts with “Alaska’s Team” on them. He and 20 Seattle-area employees are here this week, looking forward to cheering on their Seahawks no matter what the elements bring.

“There’s something romantic about being out there in the cold and the snow,’’ he says.

But not everybody takes a romantic view of players frolicking outdoors this time of year.

Former NFL tight end and coach Mike Ditka, working here for ESPN, played for the Chicago Bears when they won the 1963 NFL championship over the New York Giants in temperatures about 9 degrees. But Ditka says the now-TV-driven NFL is vastly different from a half-century ago and wonders why it would risk adverse weather.

He also says fans paying hefty ticket prices shouldn’t be subjected to an outdoor endurance test.

“The World Series wouldn’t be played in inclement weather,’’ Ditka says. “People say ‘It’s cold and that’s the way football was meant to be.’ Well, yeah, it was meant to be that way. I played it that way 50 years ago. But now, it’s different. So, let’s make it right for the fans, the sponsors and the players.’’

Before the Super Bowl, home teams hosted NFL title games, and the coldest ever saw Green Bay beat Dallas 21-17 in 1967 at Lambeau Field, with kickoff temperature at minus-15. Shivering players huddled on the sidelines trying to stay warm, while referees resorted to yelling out calls after one had a whistle freeze to his lips.

The 1934 title game, played at this city’s Polo Grounds, saw the underdog New York Giants upset the undefeated Chicago Bears 30-13 on a slippery field frozen by an ice storm. New York trailed 13-3 in the second half, but switched to basketball sneakers for better traction and scored 27 unanswered fourth-quarter points.

A snowstorm during the 1948 championship in Philadelphia helped limit the scoring to a lone fourth-quarter touchdown as the Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0. Players had to help remove a snow-covered tarp pregame, delaying kickoff by 30 minutes. Officials were told to do their best at estimating first downs.

Hockey fans here got a taste Wednesday night of what a frigid sporting event feels like when the New York Rangers defeated the crosstown Islanders 2-1, outdoors at Yankee Stadium. The game began with a temperature of 15 degrees that fell into single digits with the wind chill.

Some of the 50,027 fans left during the first intermission, unable to stand the cold. But the majority stayed, including Eddie Natos, 20, shivering with pals Joe Santos, 18, and Dick Wallace, 18, in the left-field bleachers as wind gusts blasted them.

“You’ve just got to keep moving or you freeze,’’ Natos says, bouncing up and down on his feet. “But this has been a totally awesome experience.’’

Whether fans have the same reaction in Sunday’s first cold-weather Super Bowl remains to be seen.


Jersey forecast looking more Seattle-likeComparing game-time temperatures and weather conditions for the two Seahawks playoff games at CenturyLink Field and the forecast for kickoff at Sunday’s Super Bowl:

48°Jan. 11 @ Seattle

Rain, 20 mph winds, wind chill 41


Jan. 19 @ Seattle

Cloudy, 1 mph winds.


Feb. 2 @ East Rutherford, N.J.

Forecast: 10 percent chance of rain

Super Bowl Shuffle in Seattle: Fans Embrace Carver’s Dancing Seahawk

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

They call themselves the 12th Man — the rabid fans of the Seattle Seahawks who’ve made CenturyLink Field one of the NFL’s toughest arenas to play in. That was certainly the case when, on Sunday, the Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers and in so doing punched a ticket to the Super Bowl.

In addition to “12” jerseys and t-shirts, the concept of the 12th Man now has an in-the-flesh personification with Native flair. Or an in-the-wood one, anyway: Chainsaw carver Jake Lucas of Bonney Lake, Washington, has created a six-foot-tall sculpture of a man-bird, wings outstretched, that has proven an instant fan favorite.

The carver with Spirit Warrior in the back of his pickup truck. Photos courtesy Jake Lucas.
The carver with Spirit Warrior in the back of his pickup truck. Photos courtesy Jake Lucas.

Lucas has some Quinault and Chinook heritage — no more than one-eighth, by his reckoning — and recalls with fondness attending ceremonies and witnessing dances with his half-Native grandmother when he was younger. “I’ve always wanted to carve a Native American dancer,” he says, adding “I also wanted to do something unique to show my love for the team.” The two desires — to borrow a term from woodworking and ornithology — just dovetailed. It took Lucas about three weeks of 12-hour days to make the piece, which he calls Spirit Warrior.

The piece was created on Lucas’s own initiative, and hasn’t been endorsed by the Seahawks. But Lucas has been taking it to rallies in the back of his pickup truck, and says the fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. Additionally, he says that the Native American community has also expressed a great appreciation for the carving. Lucas says he doesn’t know where the piece will end up, but he hopes that the Seahawks or perhaps a local Tribal organization would be interested in acquiring it. He can be contacted through his website,, where you can also see more exampes of the award-winning work he’s been creating since 2004.

Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas
Photos courtesy Jake Lucas