My visit with legendary Seahawk RB Curt Warner could have started out a little better. As a pair of Comcast corporate executives began demonstrating the new Xfinity X1 Sports App they directed my attention to a 60” flat screen showing a football game.
That football game.
That dreaded, horrible football game that I thought I had successfully deleted from my own personal hard drive. But there it was, in full color. About 8:00 left, Tom Brady marching the Patriots down the field, about to cut into the Seahawks 4th quarter lead in Super Bowl XLIX.
Couldn’t they have chosen a different game?
Thankfully we then switched to another screen, sparing me of having to watch Brady hit Danny Amendola for a 4 yard TD that cut the score to 24-21 (and increasing the Patriots win probability from 15% to 40%, according to the X1 app).
Much has changed since Warner burst onto the scene as AFC Offensive Rookie Of The Year in 1983. Back then there were no cloud-based cable systems, or even DVR’s. If you wanted to record, for example, his 207 yard performance against Kansas City in week #13 that year, you had to do it on a VCR.Nov 2, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks former players Steve Hutchinson (76), Robert Tobeck (61), Chris Gray (62) and Sean Locklear (75) raise the 12th man flag before the game against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
And if you saw that game in person, it was in the old since-demolished Kingdome. Warner says while the buildings couldn’t have looked much different, they were more alike than not:
“It was pretty loud, and the crowd…you could call them the 12th man… they were so into the game. And the opposing teams were not happy with the fan involvement, but that didn’t stop the fans from being loud and crazy. It was very helpful and instrumental in our success.”
With some former professional athletes you want to focus more on the past than the present, but with Warner you can’t help but draw comparisons between the two. He still lives in Washington (in Camas with his wife and 4 children) and he considers himself a huge Seahawk fan to this day. The 1994 Ring Of Honor inductee says he sees similarities between current head coach Pete Carroll, and his old boss Chuck Knox.
“Personality-wise Pete seems a bit more outgoing than Chuck whereas Chuck was more business all the time, but they both like to win number one, and they have a certain style to them as far as what they expect their football teams to do and how they’re supposed to play, and I think they’re similar when it comes to that.”
And since we’re asking about comparisons, how about Warner vs. Beast Mode?
“I like his style, it wasn’t my style, it’s like the opposite of what I was. I was a slasher, making cuts to get away, whereas he will take guys on more so than I would but he has the tools and physical gifts to take guys on and get away from people so I like his style.”
Then I asked him to give us a little bit of insight into what might be going through Kam Chancellor’s head as he sits at home, apparently willing to miss a significant portion of the season in his continued holdout over what he feels is a subpar contract. Warner never did anything like that himself, but I thought maybe he could relate to sitting at home watching your team play without you. In the season opener of Warner’s second season, while running a toss sweep to the right at home against Cleveland his ACL popped, ending his season. While he was out, the Seahawks went 12-4 and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs. He says it was different for him, because he knew he didn’t have a choice in the matter:
“I was in the middle of rehab so yeah I would have loved to been out there, but I had a job to do and all I could do was be very happy for what was going on, but at the same time I had to rehab. You just don’t know if you’re ever going to play again so all I could focus on was trying to get back out there.”
Until he “gets back out there,” how much will Chancellor be missed on the field? Warner says that all comes down to how well other guys play in his place while he’s gone:
“Obviously you’re going to miss him because he brings a lot of experience and a lot of himself. He’s a leader emotionally, and physically he brings a lot to the table. Not having that, they’re going to feel it, they’ll feel the effects. Hopefully you got a guy out there who’s going to at least maintain what he’s going to do. It’s going to be one of those things where we’re going to just have to find out, we’ll find out Sunday.”
As Warner talks about football, he doesn’t come across like so many other retired athletes I’ve spoken with. There’s no longing in his voice, no tangible regret, even though it’s fair to wonder how much longer he might have been able to play had it not been for all the injuries. Perhaps it’s because he’s done so well after his playing days ended. First a long-time auto dealership owner, now he’s in the health care field specializing in employee benefits. He prepared for this even before he was ever a Seahawk, graduating from Penn State with a degree in Communications. Maybe that’s why he looks back so fondly on his career as a whole, even with all the highs and lows he experienced during his 8 years in the league.
“I can’t focus in on any one thing in particular. Overall, I’ve been out of it long enough to know I don’t dwell on one single think but overall it was a great experience, and I got to play with some great football players and we had a lot of success.”
And he’s enjoying the Seahawks recent success as well, calling himself “a fan like everyone else.” He has high hopes for the 2015 team, even though he knows they have the deck stacked against them in many ways:
“The NFL does not reward you for winning, your draft picks are at the end of the draft and you got guys that think they’re worth more than what they are. You have a tough schedule you’re going up against. They’ve been able to overcome that, they were able to last year and they’ll have to do it again this year. I wouldn’t count them out from going back to the Super Bowl. They were right there, a few seconds from winning it.”
Ah yes. We finish right where we started, talking once again about that game. So I couldn’t help it, I had to ask how he felt about that fateful final play. Surely a running back would voice regret about the Hawks not putting the game in Marshawn’s hands, right?
“I’m sitting here watching it again on our Xfinity X1 platform and I’m really hoping Comcast can somehow come up with a way to change outcomes of games. That’s gotta be the next step.”