TACOMA, Wash. - Nathaniel Wentz has football in his blood. He and his dad have bonded over the victories and heartbreaks on the gridiron since Nathaniel was just 3 years old.
"I'm a die hard," said Nathaniel.
"We're very passionate about it," added his father, Randall.
On Sunday those passions were tested when Nathaniel was told to go home and change his shirt after coming to work in a Denver Broncos jersey. He says the manager at the Odyssey 1 family entertainment center in Tacoma invited employees to wear jerseys to work on game day to show off their team spirit. Apparently, however, he only meant Seahawks jerseys.
"I thought, wow. Really?" said the elder Wentz.
The father says he asked to talk to the owner, who didn't call back, so Nathaniel stayed home. The next day he found out he had been fired.
"It was all about you can't. You can't represent your team. There's something wrong with that," said Nathaniel.
The 17-year-old high school quarterback says he was technically fired for not returning to work on Sunday. It turns out, however, you can be fired in Washington for wearing a Broncos jersey, even a Seahawks jersey, if the boss doesn't like it.
"It's a petty move on the part of the employer," said staunch Seahawks fan Patrick Leo McGuigan of HKM Employment Attorneys in Seattle. But even he says employers do have the right to restrict what you wear. "An employer has a common law right to terminate for no cause, good cause or a cause that's morally wrong, as the courts like to point out."
Even in a city awash in Seahawks blue, however, Nathanial is finding support among Seattleites to wear his Bronco orange.
"I think it's crazy," said Hawks fan Bernie Crump, as he waited in line outside Century Link Field to pick up his Super Bowl tickets. "We're civilized here. It's not like we live in Philadelphia!"
Management at Odyssey 1 refused to talk about the situation on the record Tuesday.As for Nathaniel, he lost his job, but he says at least he won't have to worry about working on Super Bowl Sunday.