September 16, 1979 the Oakland Raiders blew into Seattle’s Kingdome and were treated to a typical rousing reception by the early 12th man Seahawk fans. Quarterback Ken Stabler, nicknamed “The Snake” was in his last year with the raiders and was under Seahawk defensive pressure the whole afternoon led by defensive tackle #74 Manu Tuiasosopo. The Seahawks won 27-10 behind Jim Zorn and Steve Largent. Stabler, who was just recently nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was born on Christmas Day 1945 and died July 8, 2015 – too soon for one of the most colorful and controversial but talented quarterbacks to play in the NFL.
I was a sports shooter early in my career. The action and challenge was worth the frustration of deadline pressures and sometime physical abuse. The movement. Had to do with the movement.
Every once in a while a photo assignment from the sports department would be be dealt to the photo department that was more than routine. Rugby football. Now that was tantalizing. A rough and tumble international outdoor sport I might not ever get to photograph again. I never did.
All I can remember almost 40 years later is that two Eastside Rugby clubs were set to face off and a sports reporter planned to write a feature story on the exhibition that was open to the public.
Recently as I rummaged through some sleeves of black and white negatives from those early days on one sleeve I had scribbled Rugby..just the name. No date, time, place, anything else, just Rugby. I wasn’t very good at Meta data back in the day.
These photographs are from the six film strips that survived. Tri-X, ASA 400.
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.
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.