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Asked what he remembers most about his four-season stay with the Seahawks, Steve Broussard’s response was as sudden as the burst of quickness he used to flaunt as a kickoff returner.
“The fourth down,” he said, punctuating the still-painful memory with one of those laugh-so-I-don’t-cry chuckles.
For those who need some elaboration, Broussard was referring to the fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter at the Meadowlands in 1998 when the officials awarded Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde a game-winning touchdown when replays clearly showed that the ball never crossed – or even came close to touching – the goal line. The Seahawks lost 32-31 that day – Dec. 6 – in what would be Broussard’s final season with the Seahawks.
That Week 14 loss dashed any hopes the Seahawks had of making the playoffs, and was a factor in Dennis Erickson losing his job as coach of his “hometown” NFL team. It was typical of how things went during Broussard’s four-season return to the Pacific Northwest, as well.
“I also remember that we were doing some good things, but we just never could get over the hump,” Broussard said of the team finishing 8-8, 7-9, 8-8 and 8-8 in his four seasons. “I think we were moving in the right direction. I just wish it could have lasted a little longer.”
Readers of Seahawks.com remember Broussard for other things – especially his prowess as a kickoff returner. He still holds the club records for career kickoff returns (165) and yards (3,900). He also ranks first in season average (26.9 yards in 1998) and third in career average (23.6). His only scoring return came in a 1998 game against the Washington Redskins, but it allowed him to share the Seahawks’ record for TD returns in a game, season and career – until Leon Washington ran in three last season, in his first season with the team.
So when it came time to vote for the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team, Broussard was the choice as the kickoff returner – by 257 votes over Bobby Joe Edmonds, the only returner in franchise history who was voted to the Pro Bowl (1986).
“Bobby Joe was the first real return specialist for the Seahawks. He was drafted to be a return guy,” said Paul Moyer, who was teammates with Edmonds in the mid-80s and involved in game-day radio coverage of the Seahawks during Broussard’s tenure.
“We had great special teams in the ’80s and Bobby Joe was one of the few players people knew about because of his ability to return kicks. Broussard was a lot like Bobby Joe – a smaller, quicker guy who could really return kicks.”
And do it in lasting fashion, as fans voted Broussard to the 35th Anniversary team over returners who came before him – Al Hunter, Edmonds and Chris Warren; as well as after him – Charlie Rogers, Maurice Morris, Nate Burleson and Josh Wilson.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Broussard said. “It’s not something I ever thought about, but it’s definitely an honor.”
Broussard was speaking from his office at Arizona State, where he is in his second year as the wide receivers coach on Erickson’s staff. This is the third time these two have been together. Broussard played for Erickson at Washington State (1987-88) and then with the Seahawks (1995-98) and now works for his former coach.
“No doubt, there are a lot of familiar faces around the office and it just makes it a little bit easier,” Broussard said.
Broussard coached high school football in Southern California for four years before moving to Portland State, where he worked with the running backs and wide receivers from 2004-06. He then returned to Washington State to coach the running backs from 2007-09.
“I’m coaching, so I’m still around the game,” he said. “It takes a little of the edge off, as far as getting that itch and the love of the game and all the game-day preparation. You miss that as a player, but I kind of compensated by getting into coaching.
“So I haven’t gotten away from the game and I’m doing something I love to do.”
Broussard’s playing career as a jack-of-all-trades, but-master-of-his-diverse-roles prepared him to handle whatever position a head coach wanted filled.
At Washington State, he led the Pac-10 in receptions as a sophomore and rushing as a junior. With the Seahawks, he ran a little (222 yards and a 4.8-yard average in 1995; 418 yards and a 6.0 average in 1997) and caught a little (24 receptions in ’97). And he did both with the same explosive quickness that made him so successful at returning kickoffs.
Broussard was a first-round draft choice by the Atlanta Falcons in 1990. He played four seasons with the Falcons and one with the Cincinnati Bengals before finding his way back to the West Coast (he grew up in Los Angeles) and the Pacific Northwest.
“It was almost like at home, except on the other side of the mountains,” he said. “It was too close to the Huskies, but that was what it was. It was a great experience playing for the Seahawks. I had a good time there, and have good memories.”
Except for that one fourth-down play in 1998.