Here are things that have happened to Lorin Sandretzky, known to most as Big Lo, the most well-known Seattle sports fan that has ever lived and surely ever will.
• He has been stabbed.
• He has watched multiple men die in his arms.
• He has suffered from a disease in which large chunks of his flesh were devoured by a parasite.
• He has weighed 658 pounds.
• He has been broke and unemployed.
• He has been profiled by ESPN as basically the saddest man in the Pacific Northwest.
He also hasn't missed a single Seattle Seahawks game; he's basically, at this point, the heart of the whole organization. Big Lo is only partly the biggest Seahawks fan in the world; it'd be more accurate to call him a member of the team. After all, players come and go. Big Lo is always here. And he always pays for his own ticket.
He knows all the players personally; he has had a short ESPN film made entirely about him; he has a tattoo of Jordan Babineaux, a man who hasn't played for Seattle in three years. They've even made an action figure of him. When I close my eyes and think of the Seahawks, I think of him.
Things are better for Big Lo now. He has lost 100 pounds, is healthier, fully employed for two years now and even filming commercials with Russell Wilson. Perhaps more important to Big Lo than all that: The Seahawks are great again.
So with the Seahawks about to begin their run for the Super Bowl at home, in that crazy stadium, with perhaps the best team they've ever had, I had to talk to Big Lo, whom I've known for a few years now. You can have your Pete Carroll press conferences. There's no one I want to hear from about the Seahawks more than Big Lo.
First off, how's your health?
I'm doing great. I'm down to 379 pounds, which is as low as I've been in more than a decade. That's down from 658. Health's finally pretty danged good.
The new Seahawks regime is renowned for its attention to detail and its overall competence, and they've been rewarded with success on the field. But how are they with you?
They've been terrific. The players always come over to me. This team, in particular, has been good to me. I was nervous at first when Pete [Carroll] came in, because we were losing our buddies, our Jordan Babineauxes, our Marcus Trufants, the guys who showed nothing but love. When Matt Hasselbeck was gone, it was like a different team. But it has really maintained. They give us, and me, a lot of care, when they don't have to. They could have told me to buzz off and I'd have still loved them. But they haven't done that.
Every time I talk to an athlete about playing at CenturyLink Field, they refer to the act of playing there with some variation of "terrifying." Is it louder this year because the team is so good?
It really depends on the game. Some games people are selling their tickets to the high dollar folks, and those games, the crowd just doesn't feel the same. But everyone will be hanging onto their tickets this weekend. It gets so loud in there sometimes that it feels like every single person is screaming right in your face.
But I'm not going to wear earplugs. I go au natural. If it's too loud, you're too old. I don't do any special gear. My face is too pretty to paint. I just wear my jersey and jeans. I don't go overboard. I carry my Sea FENCE, everybody knows me by that, so that's enough.
Is this your favorite Seahawks team?
It is. There's something special there. Russell Wilson is just a diamond. I actually got to film a commercial with him, and he's just a lovely person. This is the one we want to go all the way. This is the one that will make all the pain of the last few years -- all the pain of ever -- worthwhile.
If they make it to the Super Bowl, will you go?
Man, the tickets prices are so crazy, I just don't see it. I pay for all my own tickets, and those things are going for like two grand. I don't fly, so it'd be a road trip, but I still can't imagine not being around for the celebration. Not being there when the Seahawks win the Super Bowl? That's like not being present for your own birth. So it's up in the air right now.
Is your life happier when your team is winning? Like, does it make a palpable difference?
It does for everybody. I mean, when your team is winning -- even if you're not that big of a fan -- it becomes something the whole town rallies around. It's all anyone wants to talk about. So many people in town know me as Big Lo, so when they see me when the team is winning, they actually smile. I mean, think about that. When I walk around town, when someone looks at me, it makes them happy. That's what it's like when we're winning. People are in a better mood. People feel better about their lives. It just makes everything better. It makes everything feel good.
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