The Seahawks have played in two conference championship games in their first 37 seasons, and Jim Zorn was a part of each.
In 1983, he was the backup quarterback when the Seahawks lost to the Raiders in the AFC Championship game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In 2005, he was the quarterbacks coach when the Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game in Seattle to advance to the Super Bowl.
Sunday, Zorn will be honored with the rest of that ’83 team – in this 30th anniversary season of being the first playoff team in franchise history – during a halftime ceremony at the Seahawks’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CenturyLink Field.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Zorn, who still lives in the house on Mercer Island that he bought while playing for the Seahawks. “In fact, I’ve been getting phone calls from a bunch guys that are coming. So I’m looking forward to seeing as many of them as we possibly can.
“Looking at some of the names, you almost don’t remember that some of these guys were even on the team. So you have to conjure up the memories.”
That ’83 team didn’t just advance to the playoffs as a wild-card; it upset the Dolphins in Miami to advance to the AFC title game against the Raiders. That win over the Dolphins remained the Seahawks’ only road playoff victory until last year’s team beat the Redskins in Washington.
“I was thinking, with the (1983) team we didn’t win a championship,” said Zorn, aware that the first of the Seahawks’ seven divisional titles didn’t come until 1988 – a feat matched in 1999, 2004-07 and 2010. “And yet, the Seahawks are so awesome in trying to remember the past and remember traditions.
“It was a very exciting time. It was as exciting a time for us then as it was when we went to the Super Bowl in 2005.”
Zorn’s place in franchise history is as one of the cornerstones of all things Seahawks. He was their original quarterback and shared dual face-of-the-franchise status with Hall of Fame wide receiver and best friend Steve Largent. Zorn set all the franchise passing records that have been surpassed by first Dave Krieg and then Matt Hasselbeck. In 1991, he became the second person inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor – following Largent, who was the first in 1989. He joins the late Dave Brown, Paul Moyer, Sherman Smith and Kris Richard as the only players who have returned to be coaches with the Seahawks.
But that ’83 season also was a crossroads for Zorn, as he was replaced at midseason by Krieg.
“It’s a year I’ll never forget because I got replaced,” Zorn said. “It was a bittersweet year for me.”
But Zorn did replace Krieg in the AFC Championship game after the score was 27-0 and threw touchdown passes to Dan Doornink and Charle Young.
Just a reminder that Zorn was part of that first playoff team, not to mention the start of a franchise that has become what the Seahawks are today – 7-1, the best start in franchise history.
“The Seahawks just do a wonderful job of helping the fan to remember, but also honoring the players of the past and they do a great job with them,” Zorn said.
But how will the twitter-generation of Seahawks fans relate to the turn-the-clock-way-back team from ’83?
“It was in the 80’s, come on,” Zorn said with a laugh. “But I tell you what; the young fan will join in because the fans that started with us – the older group now – they’ll be loud, because they’ll remember the Kingdome and everything that happened in the past.”
Especially that first playoff team in franchise history.