Monday, August 25, 2008

Snake & Freddy B vs Zorn & Largent in the 70's

The Seattle Seahawks entered the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1976. Few people remember they actually played in the NFC West their first season and switched to the AFC West in '77. They fit right in. Even their uniforms and logo seemed like it had always been there. Not surprisingly they became instant rivals with Oakland, who were natural rivals with most teams they played. Though in the case of the Seahawks, there was an alternate universe mirror effect. The Seahawks were the nice guys, new kids in town. The Raiders (we know who they were in the 70's) welcomed them to the neighborhood with a sock to the kisser. A new era was born.

Unlike their counterpart expansion team, the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle had some guys who could play. Of particular note was Jim Zorn. Not only was he a wily, strong armed, accurate passer, he had a mojo that made him truly a team leader in the eyes of his teammates. Seattle won some games and when they were outmatched, they were generally not a pushover. Though to be fair, the Seahawks were not a really good team out of the gate. At worst, the Seahawks were generic, sometimes hot, sometimes cold. The only real identity for a stretch was the Zorn to Steve Largent connection which was uncanny and spectacular even in losing efforts.

I never got a chance to see them live or on TV, only on NFL highlights. Say what you will about the NFL but everyone has to admit NFL films rocks most of the time, ya know?

There's a simpatico QBs tend to have with certain receivers. It's either there or it isn't. What is odd is how alike Steve Largent and Jim Zorn are as people. Both are very religious family men, milk and cookies types. By total chance, both arrive to play pro ball for an expansion team and the result is simpatico.

It's hard to imagine a more different set of opposite numbers than the Ken Stabler/Fred Biletnikoff connection in Oakland. As personalities they are alternate universe reflections of Zorn/Largent. Because they were big names in important roles on their respective teams, they were considered "arch rivals" at the time yet throughout their history of playing against each other there was never any animosity at all. In fact there was no real opinion of each other expressed besides normal platitudes when one or the other wins or plays well.

Freddy B was a serious shitkicker type with the Raiders though he did not come into the league that way. That was a gradual process as the Raider mystique morphed him from a clean cut 1960's Florida State man to a 1970's freewheeler as he and fellow shitkicker from the south, Ken Stabler, raised hell off the field while Zorn and Largent were tucking their kids in to bed.

It may be true we are all products of our environment. Thanks to Freddy and Snake and Tooz etc, we know what it was like to be an Oakland Raider and what forces may change the individual once he is part of the team but what does that say about the Seahakws image in those early days?

milk & cookies vs whiskey & beef jerky

men of religion vs men of...whatever the #@&!

Both sets of men were perfect for their respective teams and perfect for each other as teammates. Not only did they rack up gaudy passing numbers, they became a part of the soul of their team, like living legends. All of these guys knew exactly how to help their team win games.

There are some amazing highlights lost to time in the NFL films archive. Having lived through it as a kid, I am still amazed these teams developed the way they did and fate brought them together for some great games in the 70's.

No comments: