Seahawks’ past mingles with Seahawks’ present

Posted Nov 2, 2013

Members of the 1983 Seahawks, the first playoff team in franchise history, visited the home of the current Seahawks on Saturday and will be honored during halftime of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.

PHOTOS | 1983 Seahawks Visit VMAC

As members of the Seahawks’ most-recent playoff team were mingling with members of the franchise’s first playoff team after Saturday’s walkthrough, former linebacker Bruce Scholtz leaned in and told current coach Pete Carroll that his team was making it cool to be a Seahawks fan.

“I just told Pete Carroll that this is great they’re honoring us,” Scholtz, a second-round draft choice in 1982 and leading tackler on the ’83 team, said through a large smile. “But I also told him that this fan base and this organization have made it cool to be a Seahawk fan in Austin, Texas. And that’s Cowboy country.”

With several members of the 1983 team watching the 2013 team from the sideline in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, it was difficult to gauge who was most impressed with who. The mixed bag of emotions became even more muddled when the players from then and now posed for photos and exchanged introductions after the walkthrough.

It has been 30 seasons since that ’83 team qualified for the postseason as a wild-card team, just as the 2013 team did last season. And there is a bridge between this generational gap. Before the 2012 Seahawks beat the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in January, the ’83 team was the last – and only – Seahawks team to win a road playoff game. It happened on Dec. 31 of that year when the Seahawks rallied late in the fourth quarter to pull off a monumental 27-20 upset over the Miami Dolphins at the Orange Bowl.

“It’s kind of crazy how time flies,” second-year quarterback Russell Wilson said when asked about that road-playoff-victory drought. “It was an honor to be in the playoffs last year, and we’ve got to try to get there again.

“But the 1983 team means a lot to our history, obviously, and being a Seattle Seahawk is a special thing – it’s a special legacy, a special group of guys. So it’s an honor to have these guys here with us. It gives us inspiration.”

The members of that ’83 team will be honored on Sunday in a halftime ceremony during the Seahawks’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CenturyLink Field.

Before that, the former players and coaches watched the morning walkthrough, returned in the afternoon for a tour of VMAC and will attend a dinner on Saturday night.

“Thirty years,” Robert Pratt, the right guard on the ’83 team, said before pausing and shaking his head to let that sink in. “It’s hard to imagine, and it goes by in a blink of an eye. Truly, I have only seen a couple of my teammates – Steve Largent and Jim Zorn – in the 30 years that I’ve been gone.

“So to see some of my running mates on the offensive line – like Reggie (McKenzie) and Steve August and Kani Kauahi and Ron Essink – it’s a real treat. You realize how lucky we were.”

Sam Merriman, a linebacker and special-teams standout on the ’83 team, seconded that notion.

“This whole thing is just amazing,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, everyone is going to have changed so much.’ And of course there are the physical changes. But the personalities are exactly the same. So I don’t think this whole group should go into a bar together, because it’s still like we wound back together and it would just go crazy.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s been 30 years ago at all. But it’s great to find out what everyone is doing, and to see that everyone has kids that are basically adults. It’s been a lot of fun.”

That ’83 season that exceeded even the wildest expectations included a 31-7 victory over the Denver Broncos in the franchise’s first playoff game at the Kingdome on Christmas Eve before that unexpected upset of the defending AFC Champion Dolphins in Miami, but ended with a 30-14 loss to the Raiders in Los Angeles in the conference championship game.

“But we got the chance,” Pratt said. “And a lot of people don’t even get that chance.”

Just ask all the players on all those Seahawks teams between 1983 and 2005 – when the Seahawks not only advanced to the NFC Championship game but won, to move on to the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

“That’s why we savor and enjoy what we were able to accomplish,” Pratt said. “Because this will probably be the last time we see some of these guys. Heck, it’s been 30 years. I don’t think there’s going to be a 60-year reunion. If there is, there will be very few of us here.”