SEATTLE, Wash. — During his seven-year stay in the NFL, part of Craig Terrill's job was to eat in order to maintain the nearly 300-pound build of a defensive tackle, one of the League's most physical positions.
"I've never been hungry," a noticeably slimmer Terrill said Wednesday night inside SPORT restaurant, located near the base of the Space Needle. "I was a defensive lineman and ate my entire life. It was my job to eat while I was playing in the NFL, and maintain weight."
As a member of the Seahawks, who Terrill last played for in 2010, Terrill spent time at a 'Taste of the NFL' event, which since 1992 have rallied the country's top chefs and NFL's greatest players together on Super Bowl Eve to raise funds in support of food banks across the country. The event has one common goal: end hunger, something Terrill, having never known the feeling, saw as a "serious issue."
"I think it's a serious issue that blew me away when I found out how many people actually struggle with not having enough food, that struggle with not having a place to go to get food," Terrill said. "So I think that's an easy thing to jump at. This is a simple — not a simple issue — but a simple problem that we can try to put a dent into, raising this money by pushing people toward it."
After his playing career was through, Terrill was asked to join the cause in the Seattle area alongside local chef John Howie. Terrill said he jumped at the chance, with Wednesday night at SPORT restaurant representing his fifth straight year spearheading the Seahawks' 'Kick Hunger Challenge' dinner and auction. The annual get together supports Food Lifeline, which provides 91,000 meals a day to local food assistance programs to create a sustaining approach to stopping hunger.
"Every time we decide to throw the party, it sells out and people come here and bid on a ton of stuff because," Terrill said. "I think it's unique in that it's a National Football League fundraiser, but all this money we raise stays right here, so they kind of see the investment they put in for an item they bid on. They know that money's going to go to Food Lifeline here in Western Washington."
The kickoff event saw fellow Seahawks Legends Walter Jones, Jim Zorn, and Sean Locklear in attendance, as event-goers were treated to a Texas-style Super Bowl-themed menu designed by chef Howie, as well as live music from Terrill's band and a silent auction featuring signed and game-worn Seahawks memorabilia.
"The competitive nature of it, we compete against the 31 other teams in the League to raise the most money," said Terrill. "The competitive edge of it is pretty cool, too, where we can kind of get people excited about it."
Thirty NFL teams have set a $10,000 donation goal for the campaign. But two clubs — the Seahawks and Texans — have aimed quite a bit higher, hoping to raise $100,000-plus for the cause. To date, Seattle has raised $41,689 and counting, while Houston — the host city for Super Bowl LI — has raised a whopping $136,384 for food banks in the Texas area.
"They have the most money raised by quite a bit," Terrill said of the Texans' efforts. "So we're chasing them right now trying to catch up."
Being at or near the top of the Kick Hunger competition isn't new to Terrill, the Seahawks, and the Seattle area. The team has claimed the number one spot three of the past four years while raising $375,000 in the process, with every $1 raised providing four meals for those in need, according to Food Lifeline. Terrill called that spirit of giving in the Pacific Northwest one of the most rewarding parts of the fundraiser.
"When you ask them to do something, it's a unique city in that they jump at the opportunity to come and help and give," he said. "So I think that's the coolest thing year-in and year-out. When we kick off this thing and get it going, people are lining up to show up to an event, or lining up to buy a t-shirt, or going online and donating on our website.
"I think it'd probably be disheartening if you did it and nobody gave, which could be the issue in some places," he added. "But Seattle's a cool city like that."
The fifth annual 'Kick Hunger Challenge' dinner and auction event was held on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at Seattle's SPORT restaurant, where Seahawks Legends teamed with chef John Howie to provide a night of entertainment in support of Food Lifelife, which aims to end hunger in Western Washington.