ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Brett Rypien attended one of the first football games ever held at Lumen Field.
In 2002, starting Seahawks quarterback Trent Dilfer sprained his knee in a preseason game against the Colts and the team needed depth. They called on Mark Rypien, Brett’s uncle, who already had 16 years of NFL experience under his belt.
“He was close to 40 at that point,” Brett said. “He was up there in age.”
A 6-year-old Brett lived in Spokane at the time, about four hours from Seattle. His family made the trip to the coast to watch his uncle play. The game just happened to be the second game ever played at the stadium.
Nobody knew at the time, but the stadium would become one of the most hostile in the NFL. In 2013, it reached 137.6 decibels in a game against the Saints, earning a spot in the Guinesss Book of World Records for the loudest stadium ever measured. The Chiefs surpassed that mark the next year, but Lumen Field remains in second place.
Veteran defensive lineman DJ Jones, who spent the first five years of his career as the Seahawks’ division rival in San Francisco, said that Seattle is the toughest place he’s ever played. He doesn’t mind that, though.
“It’s one of my favorite places to play,” he said. “The fans are gonna be in it from the beginning to the end—pregame. Once we’re walking off the field they’ll still be there. They’re loud. The 12th Man is real.”
The stadium could be on its way to regaining the decibel record on Monday, when the Seahawks host the Broncos for the first Monday Night Football matchup of the season. Russell Wilson spent the last decade as the face of Seattle but will now be suiting up for the Broncos. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was asked whether he wants fans to boo Wilson in his return, and basically said yes.
“You are either competing or you’re not. I’m leaving it up to the 12s,” Carroll said. “It’s game time, and we’re going for it. However they take it, I’ll follow their lead on that. I mean, I’m not going to be involved with that opportunity to react, so I don’t have to make that decision. We’ll see what happens. But I’m leaving it up to the 12s.”
To prepare for matchup, which is the most expensive ticket in the league in Week 1 and most expensive in Seattle since 2017 according to Vivid Seats, the Broncos pumped in crowd noise during practice all week. Every day, the team is jeered and booed. Air horns are blown over the speakers. The sounds ebb and flow. They’re surprisingly realistic.
More than anything, they’re loud.
“It’s loud and it’s annoying,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said of the noise. “You get to hear a bunch of boos, so you get used to that. But besides that, I don’t think anything is like a real game, especially at a place like that. You can’t—unless we put earphones on everybody and just turn it up even louder—I don’t think you’re ever going to get that. We tried our best to make it as loud and uncomfortable as possible as we could for those guys.”
Kicker Brandon McManus isn’t worried about the noise.
“It’s no different for me,” he said. “I’ve played in a lot of loud stadiums.”
In fact, McManus cares so little about the sound that he doesn’t know if the crowd noise was playing over the speakers during the field goal periods this week.
“I don’t even know. I didn’t really pay attention to it,” he said. “I know they’ve done it in the past and I didn’t really pay attention this week. So maybe they were.”
Regardless of whether or not the noise actually makes a difference, at least one section will be behind the Broncos; Rypien will have a group of family members making the trip over from Spokane.
He’ll have a good friend on the other sideline, too.
Rypien entered the league the same season as quarterback Drew Lock, who was traded to Seattle in the same deal that sent Russell Wilson back to Denver. The two were in the same meetings every day for three seasons. Lock was even a groomsman in Rypien’s wedding this spring.
“We’ve become pretty close,” Rypien said. “We talk probably once a week and just cold call to share stories. And we’re in similar offenses now.”
Lock won’t be the only friendly face on the opposing sideline. Tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris were involved in the same trade. Harris was in Denver recently and ran into Broncos wide receiver KJ Hamler at the chiropractor. Broncos defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones is still in touch with Harris often. They’ve talked this week, but not about the game. The smack talk is toned down, in part because of how Harris left.
“He got traded there,” Jones said. “It’s not like he picked it.”
While it sounds like the Broncos will be cordial with their former teammates, they shouldn’t expect the same warmth coming from the stands.