SEATTLE -- The noise is no joke.
That was my immediate thought as I stood near the south end zone moments before kickoff at CenturyLink Field on Thursday. Everything you've heard is true. Michele Tafoya tells no tall tales. Seahawks fans -- "The 12s", you know -- have forged a certified NFL phenomenon. It's a truly unmatched home-field advantage.
Before arriving at the Clink, I had predicted -- poorly, as it turns out -- that the Packers would win the NFL's regular-season opener. Before Ariana Grande had completed her workmanlike version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," I was GOB from Arrested Development. There might as well have been an expired dove in my jacket pocket.
And that's not to say the Packers were overwhelmed by the moment. Their humbling 36-16 defeat in front of Al, Cris and the world can't be hung on the setting alone. I was actually impressed by Aaron Rodgers, who seemed completely unfazed by the madness that raged around him. Rodgers effectively communicated with his line, bellowed instructions into Eddie Lacy's ear hole, and generally handled the situation with a level of grace you'd expect from the greatest quarterback on the planet.
But it didn't matter. The Packers were wildly outclassed. In the locker room after the game, Richard Sherman said the Seahawks won despite not playing their best football. It was the worst insult he could've lobbed at the Packers, and he didn't even have to mortify Erin Andrews to do it.
There's something special going on in Seattle right now. It starts with the team, which looks every bit as good -- and perhaps better -- than the Seahawks squad that dominated the NFL and won the Super Bowl a season ago. And it continues with the fan base, which has taken quite well to rooting for a dominant winner.
This is a hard-won celebration for Seattle sports fans, who watched the Sonics leave town, are still waiting for the Mariners to play in the World Series, and dealt with decades of mediocrity from their NFL representative. These Seahawks are the reward for all that grief and frustration.
Walking around the city on Thursday, you could sense the swagger. There's an easy confidence coursing through the city limits, a feeling that winning isn't just hoped for, but expected.
In other cities, this superiority complex would be a turn-off. But Seattle has earned this team and this moment. The Seahawks represent life in the sweet spot.
Some other takeaways from Around The NFL's Seattle sojourn ...
» I can confidently state that one out of every four Seattle residents was wearing some kind of Seahawks merch on Thursday. Moms, dads, kids, cast-iron pigs -- the 12s roll hard. As always, Packers fans travel very well. Here I took a picture of some happy Wisconsin residents unaware of the 2,000-pound anvil dangling above their heads.
» I visited the Seahawks' locker room after the game and spoke with Michael Bennett, who said Packers defenders weren't all-in when it came to trying to bring down Beast Mode. "I saw supposedly some of the best players in the league not want to tackle Marshawn Lynch." Oof.
» In February, I witnessed Lynch dance alone joyously in the Seahawks locker room. Seven months later, Lynch's locker was empty during postgame media availability. What does the Beast do during these hiding sessions?
» Local grunge legend Soundgarden was excellent during the pregame concert outside the stadium. Chris Cornell clearly is taking an anti-aging potion that would lead to a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
» The Seahawks' PA system blasted The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" during the unveiling of the team's Super Bowl champion banner. This was a fascinating song selection given the moment. I like to think Lynch's predilection for contact was inspired by the actions of a young Richard Ashcroft.
After spending the day and night in Seattle, I present Seahawks jersey power rankings:
» I noticed that almost every stadium employee located on the field level wears earplugs during the game. But you know who doesn't wear earplugs? The Sea Gals, who dance extremely well and go full Chevy Chase with their on-field hydration situation.
This seems like a good place to say goodbye.