By TYLER ELLYSON
SEATTLE – The Seattle Seahawks have more than 10 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, along with nearly 200,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel.
These football fans are constantly looking for new content, and it’s up to Edwin Hooper and other members of the digital team to provide it for them.
As a social media specialist for the NFL franchise, Hooper helps produce the videos, photos, memes and other posts viewed by people across the world. Simply put, his job is to “make dope content.”
“I get a chance to do it all,” said Hooper, who graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a degree in multimedia. “They really don’t have a limit on what we do every day.”
During training camp, he might be on the sidelines shooting photos and video at practice or using his cellphone to record quick interviews with players and coaches. Once the season starts, he’s with the team on game days, capturing those moments on and off the field that increase fan engagement and give them an inside look at their beloved Seahawks.
It’s a dream job for the 29-year-old former Loper.
“I would say it’s a dream because I’m getting paid to do something I would do for free,” Hooper said. “But it’s a dream I didn’t realize until I actually got here. I always wanted to play in the NFL, but I never really knew about media in the NFL. I didn’t know I could still be a part of the team in this way.”
FOCUSED ON FOOTBALL
Hooper’s path to the Pacific Northwest started in northeast Texas, where he was a standout football player at Texas High School in Texarkana who also dabbled in video production.
A serious knee injury suffered his senior year limited his scholarship opportunities, but Rice University remained committed to its offer.
“Honestly, I was just thinking about football,” Hooper said. “I wasn’t even really thinking about academics. When they asked me what I wanted to major in, I just did sports management, because in my mind I’m thinking I can stay around sports and get a job somewhere in the sports industry.
“Obviously that wasn’t the best mindset going into it, because to play football your academics have to be right.”
Hooper was on the roster at Rice for just one season before transferring to Sierra College, a two-year school in Rocklin, California. That’s where he dove deeper into video production.
Using their clips from Hudl, a Lincoln-based sports technology company, Hooper put together highlight tapes he and his teammates could send to coaches at larger colleges and universities.
“It got to the point where I would be making videos for people and they would all come to my apartment and we’d get Little Caesars pizza, put them on the TV and watch them over and over and over again,” he said. “I saw how their eyes would light up and they would want to send the links to their friends and their moms and dads.
“It was more than just a resume to send to these four-year schools. These videos showed people back home who couldn’t attend games what they were doing. When somebody scored a touchdown, if their mom can’t be in the stands, they have this highlight tape and they can see their son is out in California doing good things and making something of himself.”
Although he had a clear talent for video production, Hooper was still firmly focused on a professional football career when he arrived at UNK in 2015. The defensive lineman/linebacker played two seasons for the Lopers, then it all came to a sudden end.
“Once I was finished playing football, honestly, I was really in a dark place,” Hooper said. “All I thought about was football. I really didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know what I could do.”
If you’re going to share his story, you have to mention Nanette Hogg and what she’s done for his life and career, Hooper insists.
“She didn’t let me quit on myself. Even when I was at UNK, there were times when I would get frustrated and I would go to her office and say, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ And she would never let me. She would always push me. Even when I didn’t believe in myself, she still believed in me. I know there’s no way I would be here right now if it wasn’t for her just being there for me and her guidance and leadership.
“She means the world to me.”
An associate professor and chair of UNK’s Department of Communication, Hogg served as Hooper’s adviser during his time at UNK. Recognizing his passion and ability, she’s the one who introduced him to the multimedia program.
“I would tell her all the time, ‘I don’t even think I’m meant for school,’ because I would try hard, but for some reason it just didn’t come to me,” Hooper said. “I couldn’t focus enough to do well in the classroom. But when she put me in the multimedia program and I’m doing web design and I’m taking video production, things came naturally to me. These were things I actually enjoyed doing. I felt like it was my thing.”
Hooper combined his love of sports and multimedia during class projects by creating videos featuring the football team. After graduating from UNK in summer 2018, he worked with the athletic department to continue producing content for social media.
“It’s funny. I went out to Target and got a camera – a Nikon D3400 – and I just really wanted to get some photos for the guys,” he explained. “I just wanted to be an extra body there to make sure we got as much content as we could. It was a way to still be part of the team and bring something to the program.”
He quickly expanded beyond football to basketball, volleyball and “anyone else who would let me shoot.” His favorite event was the 2019 NCAA Division II volleyball championship in Denver. The Lopers went 38-1 that season and finished as the national runner-up.
“It was such an amazing story, even though we lost. Just to be part of that – one of the most dominant volleyball teams ever, at any level – and see the emotions of it. It was an amazing ride,” Hooper said.
Hooper was hired by the Seattle Seahawks in June 2021.
Now, he highlights superstars such as DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Geno Smith, Quandre Diggs and Tariq Woolen. Last month, he was in Munich when the Seahawks faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the NFL’s first-ever regular-season game in Germany.
“To be part of the team that captures this content to put out, it’s just amazing to me,” he said. “It’s similar to when I was at Kearney and it was just my friends and I wanted them to have things to show their friends and family back home.”
Except the audience is much, much larger. The team’s social media posts get thousands of reactions and views.
One of his favorites came from the Aug. 18 preseason game at Lumen Field in Seattle. Hooper ran out with the team while recording in slow motion, giving fans an opportunity to see what that experience is like.
“Even though I wasn’t playing on the team, I got the feeling of what it’s like to run out in front of 70,000 people just screaming, through the smoke, and you’re looking around and all these cameras are flashing and you just see blue and green throughout the stadium. To be able to provide that for fans, for them to have that firsthand perspective of running through the tunnel and what it looks like for the guys, that was really special for me,” he said.
Hooper remains close with many of his UNK teammates – the guys he dreamed about playing professional football with – and he still thinks about those times at 2 in the morning when they were by his side reviewing video footage and helping hone the skills that got him to the NFL.
“There are a lot of people who think my job is super cool and they ask me all the time, ‘How did you get this opportunity?’ But those guys, they were always there with me. They’re not surprised at all. They always believed this could happen.”
Bring 'em out.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) August 19, 2022
Count it down. 24 hours til kickoff.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 17, 2022