Thom Fermstad, an original Seahawks employee who oversaw the team's film and video departments for 36 seasons, has been recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame with an Award of Excellence.
Fermstad, along with five other film/video directors—Mike Dougherty (Eagles), Mickey Dukich (Rams), Henry Kunttu (Bills) and Al Treml (Packers)—is part of the second class of contributors recognized inside the Hall of Fame Museum with Awards of Excellence. The Pro Football Hall of Fame will recognize the award winners in Canton with an evening reception June 28 and an awards luncheon June 29 emceed by Hall of Famer Dan Fouts.
"He was very well respected by everyone who came into contact with him, especially his peers," said Seahawks assistant director of video, John Mallory, who was hired by Fermstad. "Seeing him interact with other video directors around the league was always a cool thing for me, just because of the respect they all have for each other. Then on top of that, there were all of his contributions to the field."
The Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural Awards of Excellence were given out last year to a group of 20 assistant coaches, athletic trainers, equipment managers and public relations personnel, a group that included longtime Seahawks executive Gary Wright.
Fermstad started his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings in 1973, and while in Minnesota he met Jack Patera, who in 1976 was named the head coach of the expansion Seahawks. Patera hired Fermstad to be the team's first film director, and he spent the next 36 seasons leading the club's film and video departments.
Asked what he learned from Fermstad, Mallory said, "Everything. One of the biggest things I still carry with me today was the way he shot games—just the care and attention to detail he put into every shot to make it as good as it could be. It's hard to do it exactly perfect every time, but he tried his best to get to that point. He put a lot of attention into making his stuff look the best it could."
Fermstad, who was inducted into the Sports Video Hall of Fame in 2016, took part in 583 Seahawks games, one Super Bowl appearance, and at the time of his retirement in 2012, he was one of two remaining original Seahawks employees along with Sandy Gregory, who retired in 2018.
For more than a decade Fermstad was on the league's video director's committee, which meant working closely with other teams' video departments. That's how Rob Porteus, now the Seahawks' senior director of video operations, got to know Fermstad back when Porteus was working for Baltimore and Washington.
"Everybody liked Fermy," Porteus said. "He was well respected, easy to talk to, easy to work with. Always approachable. I looked to him for guidance and answers, especially as a young director."
Fermstad's long career meant working in everything from film to BetaCam to digital video, and he not only kept up with the times, he was also an innovator.
"He played a big part in integrating data into video back in the day," Porteus said. "The GSIS (game statistics & info system) data that's available to everybody after a game, really linking that up with video in the early 2000s, he played a big part in that."
Just one of the many signs of respect Fermstad had after decades with the team was the special treatment he got from longtime Seahawks chef Mac McNabb and his staff.
"He'd have his own breakfast ready for him, you'd have thought he was the head coach," recalled Mallory. "Two eggs, two pieces of bacon, toast, hashbrowns. Everything was on a plate ready for him. Then if lunch was something he didn't like, Mac would know and have a hot dog and chips ready for him."
And now, in addition to the respect and admiration of his peers, not to mention some special meals along the way, Fermstad's long career with the Seahawks also has been recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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