To kick off the new year, we will be reposting our Washington Mount Rushmore of Sports (originally published in 2009). This series of posts was inspired by an earlier feature by ESPN’s Sportscenter. [Gary Payton] [Don James] [Ken Griffey Jr.]
Photo Credit: (Al Messerschmidt/WireImage)
Not all star athletes, aided by exceptional physical talents, rise to immediate sports fame. Some lay low, honing their skills until finally breaking out onto the national scene. Others undertake a slow, long trip to stardom. And some, like the Seahawk’s Steve Largent, must overcome cynicism and early failure, and through grit and determination, finally showcase their abilities.
Largent began his NFL career in 1976, but after four preseason games he was upon the verge of being cut by the Houston Oilers. Devastated, he was ready to find a life beyond professional sports. “I remember crying all the way home from Houston, dragging my little U-Haul trailer,” Largent said. “I was preparing to move on to the next phase of my life”.
However, Largent was given another chance by the Seattle Seahawks, who traded an eighth-round pick in order to acquire him. The move seemed inconsequential for the expansion team from Seattle. Little did they know that they would be receiving the most prolific wide receiver in Seahawks’ history.
Though not especially talented, Largent was a perfect example of the importance of hard work and determination. Standing at only 5’11 and not particularly fast, Largent was physically unimpressive. However, he ran near-perfect routes and was extremely sure-handed. His concentration and competitiveness, not his physical talents, allowed him to succeed.
Largent had a prolific 14-year season for Seattle, lasting from 1976 to 1989. He had an immediate impact, leading the Seahawks and finishing third in the NFC in receptions with 54. He went on to lead the NFL in receiving yards twice, in both 1979 and 1985. Leading the AFC in 1978 with 71 receptions, Largent had 6 seasons of 70 or more receptions and 10 of 50 or more. In a ten-year period from 1978 to 1987, Largent was also selected for 7 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro teams.
Steve Largent retired in 1989, ending a 14-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks. He finished his career holding all three of the major receiving records. He held records for the most receptions (819), the most receiving touchdowns (100), and the most receiving yards (13,089). On top of these, Largent also had the most consecutive games with a reception (177), the most seasons of 50+ receptions (10) and the most seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards (8).
Most of these records have since been broken (his record of seasons with 50+ receptions still stands). Nevertheless, Largent has been recognized for his amazing career. His No. 80 was retired in 1992, becoming the first Seahawk to do so. He was also the first Seahawk to be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame, entering in 1995.
New England’s Wes Welker is often compared to Largent. They are similar in many ways: both are small receivers with less physical talents than your Randy Mosses or Larry Fitzgeralds. Despite this, both have become stars through a combination of determination, toughness and focus.
Steve Largent’s path to greatness was never easy. But he was able to overcome critics of his size and speed in order to become one of the top wide receivers in the league’s history. And though he majority of his records have been broken, Steve Largent remains the greatest Seahawk of all-time.