Seahawk Quarterback, Jim Zorn

Early Seahawks – What a ride!

Jack Patera and Jim Zorn
Seahawk head coach Jack Patera (white shirt) consults with quarterback Jim Zorn (right), Dave Krieg and Sam Adkins during a home game with the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1981 NFL season . It would be Patera’s last full season as head coach. He was fired after two games into the 1982 season, just prior to the player’s strike.

Somewhere, most likely in a dusty box at Seahawk’s headquarters, is a photograph taken sometime in the late 70s or early 80s of a group of media photographers who regularly covered Seattle Seahawks home games in what we politely referred to as the meat locker otherwise known  as the Kingdome. For a long time the picture hung in the Seahawk’s Kirkland headquarters on a small space designated as the media hall of fame. In the photograph we were all lined  up against the wall of the west end zone shot from God only knows where or by whom either just before the game or a timeout.  I stood in the middle of the picture (the young man with the long hair and moustache)  and represented the Journal American newspaper in Bellevue.

Jeff Larsen, Larsen
Me circa 1985 during a UW game at Husky Stadium. Shot by my late friend Bruce Kellman from the News Tribune in Tacoma. Photo by Bruce Kellman

If I may indulge.  A few memorable personal moments from those early years in the Kingdome:
With no clear receiver, Jim Zorn (Zorn to Largent days) unleashes a pass out of bounds as he rolls to his right.  The ball flight was directly at my face as I kneeled on the sidelines. The ball ticked my ear as I jerked my head left to avoid a face removal.

Witnessed Photographer Rich Frishman shooting for the Everett Herald at the time (early to mid 80s), across the field from my position, get hammered by Seahawk all pro Linebacker Michael Jackson when Jackson, after missing a tackle, whirled in the air out of bounds, and caught Frishman and his cameras head on. Lots of broken cameras but Frish survived. He made the highlight reel.  But did Frish ever publish his foot pictures?

Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings came calling one year and again I almost took it in the face.  Hall of famer Tarkenton, known as king of the scrambling quarterbacks in the 60s and 70s, was on his second tour with the Vikings when he played here.  In the red zone, he rolled out to his right, scrambled back and forth. Suddenly he stopped, rifled a pass to wide receiver Ahmad Rashad cutting across the back of the end zone.  Rashad missed the catch and the ball slammed into the back wall inches from my face.

More to come.

Note: For sure that picture I mentioned earlier is a classic. Recently I managed to roundup some other vintage Seahawk photos (below) from my personal archive.  Unfortunately the small batch scarcely touches the number of images I shot during those early years. Three of the five newspapers I worked for ceased publication over the intervening years.  No telling where the negatives and transparencies are.

And to learn more , check out this Seattle Times January 2015 interview with 81-year-old Jack Patera.

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Jeffrey Larsen

Retired photojournalist from Seattle Washington.