Sportsball: The 12th-Man Handshake

I’m not going to come right out and say that Marshawn Lynch stole my touchdown celebration. Let’s just lay out the evidence.

I watch most Seahawks games with two childhood friends. During the games, we don’t act appreciably different than we did as children—we yell, throw things, make dumb jokes—but when the Seahawks score a touchdown, we have a tradition of shaking hands in the most gentlemanly way possible.

I’m not exactly sure why it started. I guess there’s something funny about calmly shaking hands after you’ve been jumping around like a maniac. Perhaps it’s a slight nod to the fact that we are adults with 401k’s instead of weekly allowances. Or maybe it’s that we had to tone it down after that one celebration when we tipped over a couch.

The 12th-Man Handshake, as I have now decided to call it, has stretched beyond watching games together. It’s now spread throughout the country, to friends who have to watch the games without Seahawks fans around. Every time the Seahawks score a touchdown, every game, the photos start coming in from Philly and New York and L.A.—my friends extending their hand from wherever they are, offering a handshake in celebration from across a continent.

Now to Mr. Lynch. After his 40-yard touchdown run Sunday, Lynch waved back the convoy of offensive linemen who had come to participate in the traditional dance or random jumping that accompany most NFL touchdowns. Instead he calmly extended a hand to guard James Carpenter, then to tight end Zach Miller, then to wide receiver Golden Tate, and down the line of celebrants, including quarterback Russell Wilson.

I’m dubious that the geeky celebration of a few white-collar Seattleites who drive sensible imported compacts could somehow have osmosed through however many levels of social circles it would need to reach that of millionaire athletes who (in Lynch’s case at least) drive white Lamborghini Aventadors. Still, if we’re both doing it, that constitutes a trend!

The celebratory handshake has many benefits. For one thing, it can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Heck, even well-trained dogs can join in. It’s polite and reserved, two traits that define Seattle culture. And, perhaps most important, you can do it without any danger of spilling your beer.

Fellow fans, I invite you to join Marshawn Lynch and me in making the 12th-Man Handshake the official touchdown celebration of Seahawks fans everywhere. E

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