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Ten years after

Posted Sep 9, 2011

The NFL will play games on Sept. 11 for the first time since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, including the Seahawks opener against the 49ers. And the memories of that tragedy definitely linger.


Raheem Brock will be on the field at Candlestick Park for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the 49ers. But at some point, the Seahawks’ defensive end will be transported back to the events of 10 years ago.

That’s because Sunday is not only Sept. 11, it’s the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took out the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001 – when Brock was senior at Temple University in Philadelphia.

“It was just crazy,” Brock recalled Friday after practice. “There were a lot of people from New York who were in my class. So they were kind of panicking and trying to get home.

“Class was canceled. So I just went home and watched everything on TV.”

Things played out very differently in Kirkland, where the players were off because it was a Tuesday. It also was one of those picture-postcard September mornings in the Seattle area, so seeing the planes fly into the towers on TV was more like watching a Bruce Willis movie than an actual event.

When the players reconvened on Wednesday, they voted to play their scheduled game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Husky Stadium that week. It wasn’t until linebacker and player rep Chad Brown took part in a conference call with the player reps from the New York Giants, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles later that day that he realized the magnitude of what had happened and how it was impacting those on the East Coast.

After Brown gave an impassioned presentation the next day, the Seahawks voted to not play – and the entire league went dark that Sunday to honor those lost in the 9/11 attacks.

It has been 10 years, but the memories of that day will be there forever.

“It looked crazy, like you’d never think you’d see anything like that,” said Brock, who was 23 at the time. “It was a tough time.”

Which will make this Sunday difficult, as well.

“I’ll think about it. I’ll remember it,” Brock said. “But I think people that dealt with the situation and lost family members, it was a crazy part of history – a tragic part of history.

“But I’ll think about it, of course. You just can’t forget it.”

The NFL hasn’t. There will be special tributes at all stadiums – including Candlestick.

Like Brock, cornerback Marcus Trufant also was in college on Sept. 11, 2001. But a then 20-year-old Trufant was in Pullman at Washington State University.

“It was early in the morning and I was on my way to class,” Trufant said. “Then what had happened came on TV. As the word spread, everybody was scared, everybody was nervous because you don’t know what to expect next.”

What came next for Trufant was retreating to his apartment and watching everything unfold on his roommate’s TV.

“I was like, ‘What?’ ” he said. “You’re watching it happened, but you can’t believe it’s happening.”

It was a similar scenario in Corsicana, Texas, where linebacker David Hawthorne was 16 and in class as a high school student.

“They turned on all the TV in the school and we all saw how tragic that was,” Hawthorne said. “Then the aftermath came, and that’s when we really started to learn what exactly happened and started praying for all the people who lost loved ones and family members in that tragedy.”

Carl Smith, the Seahawks’ first-year quarterbacks coach, held the same position with the Cleveland Browns on that September day in 2001. Having just dropped their opener the Seahawks, 9-6, the Browns players were off and the coaches were putting together the game plan for a matchup against the Detroit Lions that would be delayed a week.

“We were in the back office, Bruce Arians and me, working on the pass offense when they came in and told us what had happened,” Smith said. “I remember wanting to go home. And that’s the only time that happened in my coaching career.

“I just wanted to go home.”

Suffice it say, 9/11 is a day that lives in infamy. Even 10 years later, and on the opposite coast.

“I would say it could impact it,” Trufant said when asked about the memories of 9/11 affecting the events of this Sept. 11. “But as far as the football side of it, you’ve just got to go in and do your job. It was a point in history – a part of everybody’s history – and it’s in the back of your mind. But you’ve still got to go out and take care of biz.”

As Hawthorne put it, “It’s definitely something worth taking the time to think about.”

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