Super Bowl XLVIII may have belonged to Russell Wilson, Malcolm Smith and Pete Carroll, but Taima the Hawk was one of the unsung heroes.
The Seattle Seahawks' live mascot was on the field after the game to bask in the celebrations, per Chris Sullivan on Instagram:
Taima was also there to partake in the pregame festivities, per the Seahawks' Twitter account:
He is one of the hardest-working birds in show business. He's always the first out of the tunnel to start the game and one of the last to leave. Who can't love something with that kind of work ethic?
Here's a little background information on one of the NFL's fiercest mascots.
Since a Seahawk is a fictional animal, the team settled for an augur hawk.
According to Seahawks.com, Taima has been surveying the sidelines of CenturyLink Field since 2007. His name means "thunder," and it was chosen by Seahawks fans.
His handler is David Knutson of Spokane, Wash. Knutson has over 30 years experience handling birds of prey, so he's a master when it comes to ensuring Taima doesn't get loose and maim the opposing quarterback, although, that wouldn't be a bad strategy.
Knutson was profiled by the Associated Press back in December, via KomoNews.com. He began training Taima in 2005, and the process was both rigorous and difficult:
Knutson began the process of training Taima to deal with chaos. He took him to Seahawks practices in Cheney to acclimate the bird to people running around. He took Taima to Fairchild, where helicopters were doing takeoffs. He took him to rodeos as his wife competed in barrel racing.
"I needed the bird to not leave the stadium," he said. "I didn't want to be that guy yelling, 'Come back.'?"
So Knutson started having Robin take Taima into their barn and have him fly through the doors, and sometimes through obstacles, to train him to do the same thing under changing conditions.
Knutson's wife, Robin, will hold Taima in the tunnel before the game. Knutson holds an electronic signal that lets the hawk know when to fly. He'll fly through towers of flame and reach Knutson, who's on the 45-yard line.
It's a truly amazing sight to see such a majestic bird soar, if even for a brief time.
During his time with the Seahawks, Taima has gone without incident.
For those wondering, the eight-year-old hawk was given luxury treatment during the buildup to the Super Bowl.
He got a nice view of the cockpit on the flight from Washington to the Big Apple, per Melissa Luck of KXLY 4 News in Spokane:
Taima also had an entire room to himself, per KXLY 4 News. There's no word as to whether he also had a fully stocked minibar and free pay-per-view. He probably at least had the National Geographic Channel:
With the NFL bereft of a ton of live mascots, the Seahawks and Taima stand out, and the hawk serves to build what is arguably the best home atmosphere in the league.
After Sunday night, his legend is only going to grow.
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