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The Catch Of The Day

Through all this success Steve Largent has been able to keep his priorities straight and his life in order.

Posted: Tuesday September 11, 2007 3:03PM; Updated: Tuesday September 11, 2007 4:25PM
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Steve Largent
Steve Largent
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By Jill Lieber

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 20, 1986 issue of Sports Illustrated.

Woodinville, Wash., tucked away in the Douglas fir and evergreens, has an old-fashioned redbrick schoolhouse with a bell on top. A banner stretched across the main street trumpets an upcoming Lions Club Salmon Festival. Life is peaceful in this unincorporated burg (pop. 25,000), some 30 miles northeast of Seattle.

But there's havoc at a house in a cul-de-sac on the east side of Lake Washington. The blacktop driveway is a minefield of kiddie toys: multicolored skatebords, tennis balls, squirt guns, tiny scooters, Big Wheel bikes. The front yard is overrun with little creatures dressed in psychedelic pedal pushers.

In the middle of this madness Steve Largent, the Seattle Seahawks' All-Pro wide receiver and the man with the best hands in the game, is calmly tossing a football with his son Kyle, a seven-year-old blond moptop wearing hot-pink pants. Another son, Kelly, a two-year-old terror, is zigzagging his tricycle through Steve's legs. Daughter Casie, 5, is in the nearby garden, digging for slugs.

"Dad," Kyle says happily, "thanks again for letting me go to the Seahawks game yesterday."

The game was against the Steelers on Sept. 7, opening day in the NFL. It was an experience Kyle's mother, Terry Largent, won't soon forget.

"Kyle ordered hot dogs, hot tamales, popcorn . . ." she says, roling her eyes. "He asked me a lot of questions about what was going on. I don't think he'd ever sit still long enough to watch Steve on TV, though."

Kyle frowns. "Sure I would," he says. "For about an hour."

A pair of pigtails pops up from the mud. "Not me," Casie says. "I'd rather play with my slugs."

Dad and Mom crack up. "That'll keep a guy humble," Largent says.

Largent, in his 11th season with Seattle, is well on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He ranks third on the NFL's alltime reception list with 648,80 behind San Diego's Charlie Joiner. His 10,377 yards are third alltime. When he caught a 17-yard pass from Dave Krieg in the second period of an Oct. 6 game against the San Diego Chargers, Largent set an NFL record for receptions in consecutive games (128), bettering the streak set by Harold Carmichael of the Eagles in 1972-80.

Through all this success Largent has been able to keep his priorities straight and his life in order. He has been married almost 12 years to Terry, his high school sweetheart. Every Friday night is still Date Night at the Largent house; a couple of weeks ago they went to a Neil Diamond concert, then stopped at the Dairy Queen for a milk shake on the way home. Monday night is devoted to their children. No Monday Night Football for this crew unless Largent is playing in the game.

Largent is the highest-paid wide receiver in football -- he negotiated his $ 800,000-a-year contract himself -- yet he drives a Pontiac station wagon. On Tuesdays, his day off, he drives a Chevy van in a car pool for the First Baptish Church school.

"You're never as good or as bad as they say you are," says Largent, 32. "How significant or insignificant am I? In the context of eternity, my football achievements mean very little.

"To a large extent, my job consists of running downfield, beating a guy and catching a ball. In one-on-one defense anybody should be able to get open."

The Raiders' All-Pro cornerback Mike Haynes doesn't buy that. He believes Largent is anything but the common man. "He's the most deceptive receiver in football," Haynes says. "What makes him so special is that he'll change patterns to fit the situation. That's very unusual. It's almost as if the quarterback says to him in the huddle, 'Do whatever you want.Just get yourself open and I'll throw to you."'

There was the time when he ran downfield with Lester Hayes, the Raiders' All-Pro cornerback, in hot pursuit. Largent stopped, spun completely around and then took off across the middle to catch the ball. Then there's his signature move, the one where he leans so far in one direction that he looks as if he's going to topple over. But he doesn't. Without warning, he zips off in the other direction. "Steve is the master of tom-foolery," Hayes says. "He has run pass routes on me that I've never ever seen or dreamed about."

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