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The second-greatest Seahawks bromance

Largent and Zorn ruled. But, who’s next?

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers

Hi, I’m Gavin, and I’ll be your newest Field Gulls writer today. Let’s talk about the Seattle Seahawks. Before I get into the question of the second-greatest bromance in Seahawks history, let’s have a little fun with the first.

Anyone with enough Pepto Bismol to have survived the Jack Patera to Chuck Knox era Seahawks was rewarded with the play of a couple of expansion team nobodies named Jim Zorn and Steve Largent. Zorn, a free agent who had been recently dropped from the Dallas Cowboys, and Largent, a last-minute addition by way of sending a 1977 8thround pick to The Oilers, went on to become the pride of pre-grunge era Seattle (and the best Northwest friendship since Ivar Haglund and Puget Sound seagulls).

Statistically, Zorn and Largent had the best numbers in the NFL from 1976 to 1981 – combining for more yards and completions than any other duo. At a time when Seattle football fans didn’t have much to look forward to, they had Zorn and Largent. And Zorn and Largent had each other – they did nearly everything together. They exercised, carpooled, hunted, fished… and on July 13th, 1980, in a classic moment that would have broken Instagram, Zorn and Largent hiked a football to the top of Mount Rainier to have a game of catch. Zorn later recalled the trip to NFL Films: “… I thought, how hard can it be? We’re finely tuned athletes. Well, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” They hiked down to zero fanfare.

Why did they deserve fanfare? Zorn won NFC Rookie of the Year in 1976. In 1977, the Seahawks hopped over to the AFC, and Zorn injured his knee while tackling Cincinnati’s Lamar Parrish on the sidelines. “I should have just pushed him out,” he later said. Zorn sat out four games before returning on October 30th to throw four touchdowns and bring the ‘hawks to their second win of the season against the Buffalo Bills.

Largent recorded 10 TDs in 1977 - right around the time that Steve Perry took over lead vocal duties from Robert Fleischman in Journey. Steve Perry was a reluctant rock star who didn’t particularly enjoy the touring life. His first song was titled “Lights,” and he sang … oh, I wanna be there in my city. Zorn, the reluctant rock star, began his three-year, 3,000-yard passing streak in 1978 while living on Mercer Island, fishing in the Puget Sound, and running around Pioneer Square with Largent. Seahawks fans were listening to Journey records in Shoreline basements. They drove their Chevelles down Aurora - under basement skies - to games in the dingy basement atmosphere of the Kingdome. They didn’t have sunlight. But, on Sundays, they had Largent and Zorn.

According to a 1980 NFL Films interview, Zorn and Largent said they both made around $30K a year salary in the late seventies. So, they did a milk commercial for Washington Dairy Farmers, and Zorn used the extra money to trick out his canary yellow VW Bug with Porsche wheels. Largent usually rode shotgun in that bug. In an old film titled Contenders – which was made to acknowledge the 1978 9-7 Seahawks and their unlikely attempt at the playoffs (thanks in huge part to David Sims and his 14 touchdowns that year) - Zorn and Largent drove Zorn’s bug into the Kingdome parking lot with a cameraman crushed into the backseat. It’s clearly set up for the film, but what stood out to me was that they parked deep in the parking lot – surrounded by tailgating fans - and walked into the Kingdome with maybe two people recognizing them.

A quick YouTube search uncovers their otherworldly highlight reels, but there are also multiple interview clips with the two of them poking fun at each other in their wholesome and bromancey ways. “Jim’s left-handed, and I think left-handed people are different and weird,” Largent says about Zorn. “What was my first impression of Steve? It wasn’t that great. He’s a short-legged and stumpy guy,” Zorn replies. “Thanks,” says Largent.

After throwing for 21,115 yards and 111 touchdowns (plus 17 on the ground), Jim Zorn called it a career. After snapping his ankle in 1981, he had a tough time finding his way back to original form – as so much of his style was centered around improvisation and mobility. Dave Krieg succeeded Zorn mid-season in 1983, and Steves, Perry, and Largent sang I’m forever yours, faithfully. Largent missed Zorn on the field but still had him inside the chalky hash marks of friendship; they never lost touch. Jim Zorn was inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor in 1991.

Now that I’ve mentioned Dave Krieg, I’ve got to complain about his contributions to Steve Largent’s greatest and worst memories as a Seahawk - which came about 14 weeks apart. In week one of the 1988 season, the AFC West Seahawks were playing the Broncos. “…Dave Krieg didn’t look off the safety,” Largent recalled on “A Football Life.” Krieg led Largent right into Mike Harden’s forearm, and it was lights out for Largent. He was out for five minutes, lost two teeth, and brought home a mean concussion to his worried family. Exactly 14 weeks later – prime Bronco Busters era - the Seahawks had the Denver Broncos at home. Dave Krieg underthrew his receiver in the endzone, and Mike Harden picked it off. Running for glory, Harden zig-zagged his way out of the Seahawks red zone until the elastic Largent appeared - as if out of nowhere – a missile – and absolutely ripped Harden in half. Harden’s feet, comically, fly up into the air – like he slipped on some type of karmic banana peel – and the ball flew out of his hands. Largent shifted his focus from the splayed Harden to the unmanned football and recovered the fumble. To Krieg’s credit, he owned up to his terrible decision-making and said of Largent getting his revenge,“... that was so Yoda.”

Largent later stated that the hit was his favorite memory as a Seahawk. And the football joy in the Kingdome at that moment wasn’t felt in Seattle again until 2011 when a running back named Marshawn Lynch ran for 67 yards against the New Orleans Saints in a run called the Beast Quake. I say this because Largent – with Zorn - defined Seahawks football early. He did it with his athleticism but also his grit. His run-in with Harden was a perfect projection of the heart that Largent played football with. Marshawn Lynch did it again – post Jim Mora and early Pete Carroll era – when we needed it most. Guys like Steve Largent and Marshawn Lynch weren’t offensive football players. Those guys were football players.

Steve Largent retired as a Seahawk in 1989. He finished with 100 TDs and 13,089 yards receiving. Both stats were the most by any receiver in NFL history at the time. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995 and will always be my favorite Seahawk.

But, enough about me. Let’s hear it from you. What’s the second-greatest Seahawks bromance? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. And I’ll take any Largent and Zorn memories, too, if you got ‘em.