Gold Jacket Spotlight: All Steve Largent did 'is beat you'

Many would agree with the assessment former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips made when he labeled his action “the worse trade I ever made.”

In 1976, Phillips sent wide receiver STEVE LARGENT, a fourth-round draft choice that year, to the expansion Seattle Seahawks. Houston received an eighth-round selection in the 1977 draft — a pick used on a player who never appeared in an NFL game.

Seattle acquired a future Pro Football Hall of Famer who this week steps into the Gold Jacket Spotlight.

In skeptics’ eyes, Steve was too small and too slow to compete in college and professional football. He chose, however, to listen to those who kept him motivated: his mother, who urged him to continue playing high school football when he considered quitting; the coaches and teammates at the University of Tulsa who believed in him; and his wife, Terry, who supported him throughout his NFL journey.

“You can’t explain Steve Largent by computers. He doesn’t belong on the field,” Clare Farnsworth of Pro Football Weekly once wrote. “You put his size and speed in an IBM computer up in Silicon Valley, it would chew up his data card and laugh.”

John Thompson, the Seahawks’ first general manager, observed, “He doesn’t look impressive or physically imposing. All he does is beat you.”

After watching Steve’s play during the wide receiver’s first season in Seattle, then-Seahawks coach Jack Patera predicted, “Ten years from now, you should be able to say he’s had a great career. He should play in this league a long time. He hangs onto everything thrown to him, whether it’s in practice or a game.”

Patera’s prognostications proved accurate. Steve played 14 seasons in the NFL, all in Seattle, became the first Seahawks player inducted into the organization’s “Ring of Honor” in 1989 and, in 1995, became the organization’s first enshrinee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Steve’s commitment to preparation and his concentration skills were attributes coaches and players continually noted.

“He is his own motivator, teacher and preparer. He wins football games through his preparation,” Seattle offensive coordinator and receivers coach Steve Moore once told USA Today.

“One of the reasons he is so good is that he practices with such intensity,” said Chuck Knox, who became Steve’s head coach in 1983. “He is one of the hardest working practice players that I’ve been around in 32 years of coaching. … He practices hard and plays hard and is just an outstanding football player.”

Steve’s routines included catching up to 200 machine-propelled passes after formal practices had concluded and to practice running routes alone before and after practice. 

Dedicated to being prepared, Steve’s solitary route-running routine would include re-enacting calling the play in the huddle, running to the line of scrimmage, performing the specified route, returning to the huddle and repeating the procedure.

“He was probably one of the best students of the game,” Seattle defensive lineman Joe Nash declared.

Steve shared his commitment to preparation during his post-playing career as a U.S. House representative when he offered his “Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” address to fellow House members.

At the time of his NFL retirement, Steve owned six career receiving records: most receptions, 819; most consecutive games with a reception, 177; most receiving yards, 13,089; most touchdown receptions, 100; most seasons with 50 or more receptions, 10; and most seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards, eight.

Selected to seven Pro Bowls, the Oklahoma native’s commitment to off-field community service was recognized when Steve was selected as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner in 1988.

Gary Wright, Seattle’s public relations director and Steve’s presenter for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995, acknowledged: “Steve is a great athlete who maximized his potential.”