The Worst People In Seattle Sports History, Part II

We continue from yesterday’s post on all the hated Mariners.

Seattle Seahawks

I’m not gonna lie to you, this one was a lot tougher.  Aside from a couple of very obvious names, not a lot of Seahawks immediately jump out as annoying.  Unlike baseball – where your every move is on display for everyone watching, so if you screw up regularly, you WILL be noticed – it’s a lot easier to mask your mistakes.

Of course, that doesn’t make a ton of sense, because look at all the mediocrity, especially in the late 80s and all of the 90s.  But, that’s just it:  sure, they were mediocre, but it’s hard to point to just a couple of guys as the primary culprits.  When you have a bad football team, it’s because the whole TEAM is bad.  Not a lot of people really stood out, at least to me.  Maybe you have ideas that I don’t.

At the top of this list, now and forever, is Ken Behring.  He bought the team from the Nordstrom’s in 1988 for a scant (in today’s dollars) $80 million.  Ironically, at the time, in an article in the Spokesman-Review, he called out then-Mariners owner George Argyros who was threatening to move baseball out of Seattle, saying:

I sure don’t agree with anything he does.  I’m not sure he even wants to win.  I’m not sure he knows where he wants to be.  We’re far, far apart in what we’re trying to accomplish.

Bold words from a guy who – less than eight years later – was looking to move the team to Los Angeles.  It’s telling, actually, in that same Spokesman-Review article, he was asked about the possibility of moving the Seahawks to Oakland (after Al Davis had moved the Raiders down to L.A.).  Seemingly, there was no trust for this man from the get-go, which would seem to jibe with the family’s feelings that Seattle never really embraced Ken Behring.

Ken Behring’s reign started with a division championship in 1988, but then everything fell apart, with the nadir being the 1992 season and its 2-14 record.  After that first year, no Behring-led team would finish better than third in the AFC West.  Finally, in February of 1996 (a decade before this team would play in its first Super Bowl), Behring ordered the moving vans and drove the equipment to Los Angeles to play where the old Rams called home prior to moving to St. Louis.

Luckily for Seattle, two things existed:  a local government willing to work to keep the team here, and a sports league that was unwilling to see yet-another team change cities (after the Raiders moved back to Oakland, the Rams moved to St. Louis, the Oilers moved to Tennessee, and the Browns moved to Baltimore).  Gary Locke partnered with Paul Allen to help the billionaire purchase the team, and we passed measures to build what is now CenturyLink Field.

Ken Behring is one of the all-time pricks, no doubt about it.  But, this isn’t exactly the same thing as Clay Bennett buying the Sonics and moving them to OKC.  Even though the trust might not have been there from the beginning, I think that comes with the territory.  Whenever a non-local guy (or group) comes in to buy your team, you’re wary of the possibility of them moving.  But, to be honest, there was no inkling back in the late 80s about Behring having an agenda.  Besides, the lease on the Kingdome ran through 2005.  When the Sonics were purchased, the lease on KeyArena was much MUCH closer to running out.

However, similarities they share include an unwillingness to make things work here.  That means, the instant the going got tough, Ken Behring was on the horn to Los Angeles.  Which leads me to believe this L.A. move was a longer time coming than simply a snap reaction to the county rejecting $150 million in Kingdome improvements.  He also, let’s be honest, didn’t do everything he could to put a winning product on the field.  In that same Spokesman-Review article, Behring is quoted as saying:

We want the coach and the general manager to run the team.

This was in response to a question about having minority owners, with Behring taking the stance that local minority owners would try to butt into the affairs of the team.  Which is FUNNY, because in 1991, with the 16th overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks selected one Dan McGwire out of San Diego State.  It’s reported that then-head coach Chuck Knox really wanted to draft Brett Favre.  But, Ken “We Want The Coach And The General Manager To Run The Team” Behring stuck his big snout into the proceedings and forced the team to draft the all-time greatest bust in Seahawks history.  Brett Favre went on to be a Super Bowl winning Hall of Famer.  Dan McGwire went on to suck dick for crack rock (allegedly).

Ken Behring was no NFL owner.  He was a fucking tourist.  He was a sexual harassing Good Time Charlie who enjoyed the power and prestige of owning an NFL franchise, but he wasn’t really an NFL fan.  This quote, from his own son, then-team president David Behring, is pretty telling:

“I had tremendous passion for the game,” said David Behring, who opposed his father’s decision to move the franchise. “I felt that I was getting along with many of the people, and I was trying to push my father into background so as not to be a target. But the ’92 season really turned him off from football. When you’re 2-14, you’re criticized daily.”

Bring a little adversity into his life, and look at what he does!  Tries to take his prestige and power to a city that placates people with prestige and power.  Seattle doesn’t give a FUCK about your money or your status (at least, not compared to L.A.).  So, while he might not have been a snake in the grass a la Clay Bennett, we’re still talking about an inevitability.  Seattle wouldn’t embrace him as being the King Sultan of the World, so he wouldn’t embrace Seattle.  It’s as simple as that.  You want to know why people from the Pacific Northwest tend to badmouth people from California?  Look no further than the example set by Ken Behring.

***

The other big name on this list for the Seahawks is Tim Ruskell.  Ruskell was brought in to replace Bob Whitsitt (who himself had supplanted Mike Holmgren in 2003 as the primary general manager).  This move was a no-brainer, because Whitsitt (originally hired by Paul Allen when he purchased the Seahawks to be the president of the team) was a basketball guy (also being Allen’s right hand with the Trail Blazers down in Portland).  Ruskell immediately selected Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill in the 2005 draft and the team went on to lose in the Super Bowl that very same year.

We thought, “All right!  We got something here!”  Holmgren was largely believed to be spread thin by doing double duty as head coach and GM; most people here thought his GM duties suffered.  He needed a football guy to handle player personnel, and after one season, Ruskell seemed to be the magic man.

But, Ruskell immediately lost all his goodwill by dicking around with Steve Hutchinson.  He also traded away a first round pick for Deion Branch (an insane price for a sub-par receiver), drafted an endless string of busts (Kelly Jennings, Lawrence Jackson, Josh Wilson, Aaron Curry), and signed an endless string of useless, old players (T.J. Duckett, Julius Jones, T.J. Houshmandzadeh).  By the time he was forced to resign after the 2009 season, it was pretty clear:  that Super Bowl team was Mike Holmgren’s team.  Holmgren brought in the bulk of the core that got us to the promised land.  Ruskell just caught on at the right time and bought himself five seasons even though he was a complete moron.

After those two guys, I’m finding it hard to find Seahawks I hate.  I think there’s a reason for that:  in baseball, it’s a lot easier to hate the player, because all of his money is guaranteed.  If you sign a huge contract in baseball, then you go on to suck, you’re stuck with him!  In football, if they sign big and suck, you just cut him and save yourself the cap space.

The first player that comes to mind for me is Jerramy Stevens.  I can’t STAND that guy.  He was a first round pick at tight end that was supposed to lock down the position for a decade or more.  But, of course, he came in and was middling at best.  He was NOT the dynamic game-changer you expect out of a first round pick.  Then, he ran his stupid fucking bitch mouth in the week leading up to Super Bowl XL, and THEN he proceeded to drop crucial, game-changing balls IN the Super Bowl!

I blame the refs for a lot when it comes to losing that game, but a VERY close #2 is Jerramy Stevens.  I hope that game haunts him until his dying breath.  Jerramy Stevens is the primary reason why you should NEVER draft a home town guy who is known to have legal issues in college.  If a guy has legal issues in college (drugs, drunk driving, date rape, plowing your vehicle into nursing homes), that means he’s a fucking idiot.  It also means he has fucking idiot friends.  When drafting a fucking idiot, you’ve got to get him as far away from his fucking idiot friends as possible, otherwise he’s never going to mature to the level you need him to.

After Stevens, I guess I’d throw Rick Mirer on this list.  This one’s a stretch, though, because he’s been gone so long.  And, when we traded him, we got a pretty hefty haul from the Bears in draft picks, so that mitigated a lot of the hate.  Nevertheless, he was a #2 overall draft pick after the Seahawks went 2-14.  A #2 overall drafted quarterback is SUPPOSED to be a franchise guy you can build your team around.  Mirer went on to have a decent rookie season, then made absolutely no strides whatsoever, and was a constant disappointment every season thereafter.

I don’t know what to tell you after those four guys.  The Boz?  There were quite a few Seattleites who didn’t like the guy.  He was KIND OF an overrated pile of shit who Bo Jackson made his bitch.  Then, he was an action movie star?  Then he was irrelevant?  I dunno, man.  I read his autobiography and I find him entertaining.  And now?  Now, I just kinda feel sorry for him.  Not only is he a punchline for his “movie career”, but he’s a punchline for the thing he ostensibly did the best:  play linebacker.  I don’t know what the Boz is doing with his life right now, but if it doesn’t involve soliciting gentlemen to pull out their dollar bills while playing “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and asking that we all “give it up for Roxie”, then he has REALLY missed his life’s calling.

I know there are still some hard feelings about the whole Hutch debacle, with Seahawks fans soured on him for his dickish attitude following his signing with Minnesota, but truth be told I put 100% of the blame on Ruskell.  First, for not getting the long-term extension done, and second, for not using the Franchise Tag (but, rather, the Transitional Tag, which doesn’t come with nearly the penalty for other teams when they poach your players).

In fact, it’s hard to hate any of the free agent or draft busts either, because we know the person who was in charge.  Were Housh and Deion Branch irritating?  Sure they were!  It’s always irritating when you’re confronted with aging stars who think they’re better than they are (or better than they were five years prior).  But, they didn’t ask to come here.  They were brought over on the whim of a GM who was willing to over-pay so this team would be JUST good enough to be mediocre (but not so bad as to be blown up and start a true rebuilding process, which this team so desperately needed as it aged into retirement).

Since this post is also longer than I had anticipated, I’ll be making this one a three-parter.  God help us all.

One thought on “The Worst People In Seattle Sports History, Part II

  1. Pingback: The Worst People In Seattle Sports History, Part III | Seattle Sports Hell

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