Ex-QB Zorn reflects on 30 years of Seahawks history
Posted: Thursday February 2, 2006 4:40PM; Updated: Friday February 3, 2006 1:42PM
Jim Zorn's Seahawks finished 2-12 in their inaugural season back in 1976.
Courtesy of Seattle Seahawks
DETROIT -- Jim Zorn laughs now, looking back on that first training camp almost 30 years ago. He was a rookie quarterback on a rookie team, the newly minted Seahawks. They were trying to build something -- a little discipline, a little history, maybe a little tradition. So what if they were a little unorthodox about it?
In his first and only turn as an NFL head coach, Jack Patera had his baby Seahawks practice without water. He had them practice standing at attention for the National Anthem, helmets tucked under their right arms. He had them practice running off of the field.
Yeah, running off of the field. A ballboy held up a sign on one end of the practice field that read "Everybody's Friends." The coach gave the signal to start the drill. And then the players took off, one hand up, waving.
To everybody's friends, naturally.
It wasn't exactly "Let there be football." But it worked for Zorn.
"We bought into everything," says Zorn, now the Seahawks' quarterbacks coach. "We thought it was a little kooky. But we weren't laughing at the time. In our rooms, afterward, we'd all say 'We just practiced running off the field.' But there we were [during practice], waving ..."
The Seahawks, in the past three decades, have traveled a far piece from those first goofy, sticky practices in Cheney, Wash. (Zorn remembers paying ballboys to fetch ice for him on the sly.) They persevered through awful seasons and terrible drafts, through ownership changes and dwindling fan interest, through the initial wonder of the Kingdome to its eventual implosion and the move into the team's new stadium.
Sunday, finally, they'll enter Detroit's Ford Field as NFC Champions, where they'll play in their first Super Bowl, against the Steelers.
Thirty years is a long, long time without so much as a shot at a championship. Only the Browns and Saints have been at it longer without making the Super Bowl. Even the most pessimistic of football followers couldn't have envisioned it would take this long for the Seahawks. Not even in that first year, as bad as the Seahawks were.
And, man, were they bad in '76. They weren't as awful as the Buccaneers, who debuted with Seattle that season and went 0-14. The Seahawks ended up 2-12. Still, the Seahawks were terribly young (their entire starting backfield consisted of rookies, and they had a rookie wide receiver in Steve Largent) and completely overmatched. Heck, they were still learning to wave.