Fan Noise - "All Rhodes Lead to Seattle"

Does a single name have enough draw power to entice pro athletes to come to the forbidding, dreary Pacific Northwest? Glenn Geiss thinks so.

When was the last time we’ve had an NFL player say they WANT to come and play in Seattle? OK, OK, not just say it, but actually mean it? Forget players like Hugh Douglas, who only expressed their desire to play in Seattle as negotiating leverage with other teams. Can you think of any from the start of the 2002 season back to their start in 1976?

Me neither.

It’s too far away. It rains a lot. The town is one inbred generation away from authentic frontier gibberish. Cost of living is a nightmare. Traffic is horrible. Or so they say.

Partly, it’s our own fault. I know when I’ve traveled all over the country, I’ve had serious reservations about mentioning how great it is in the Pacific Northwest, for fear of encouraging even more Californians and Coloradoans to move up here. If I see one more SUV driving 60 miles per hour in the left lane down Interstate 5 with Californian license plates, I’ll scream. Apparently, other folks haven’t felt the compulsion to lie and instead gush on and on about how wonderful it is. Clean air, wildlife, mountains, rivers, oceans white with foam, temperate weather and honestly, it only SEEMS like it rains a lot.

It’s surprising just how many people I’ve talked to over the years that actually came here from somewhere else. A lot of them came here during the economic boom days of the 80s and 90s, chasing the bucks. Or came after hearing how Seattle was one of the best cities in the U.S. of A. to live in. Or they watched too many episodes of Twin Peaks. Not a heck of a lot, however, were pro athletes.

The ones that do want to come up here actually were from here to begin with, so they don’t count. For every Chad Eaton, who went to school in Puyallup and Pullman, there are thousands players that couldn’t even pronounce Puyallup if they tried. For every Willie Bloomquist and John Olerud there are millions who think you pronounce Geoduck like the little car that quacks.

Sure, for the most part, like everyone else, once you move up here, you generally tend to fall in love with the place. Every time I drive over the Narrows Bridge on a crisp clear morning, and see the sunrise framing Mount Rainier in all it’s majestic glory, I’m reminded what’s so great about living in this part of the country. Now, if we could get rid of all the liberals, it would be paradise.

But pro athletes avoid this place like the plague. In the Seahawks’ case, a lot would have to do with the team being horrible to mediocre for over 15 years, I’d bet. But not all of it. How many players over the years proclaimed their undying wish to come play for Tom Flores?

A few things have changed in the last couple of years.

First and foremost, Seattle has started to ever so slowly (some say too slowly) emerge as a legitimate contender. That’s good. Heck, one popular offseason poll has Seattle ranked sixth and front runners for the NFC West title. But even better was the hiring of Ray Rhodes.

I’m not knocking Mike Holmgren’s “star power”, but there has been little evidence of anyone coming to play here specifically because he was the grand poobah. Almost every offensive player we have, though, has been acquired though trades and the draft, not through free agency. It’s been the defense that has been propped up haphazardly with a parade of free agent quick fixes over the past five years. Some defenders just can’t wait to get out of town, as a matter of fact. That was the case, until Ray Rhodes strolled into town.

It all started when Ray Rhodes rescued one of our best linebackers in Anthony Simmons from bolting out of Dodge. Ray Rhodes has also instilled a sense of toughness and accountability in his players, and is widely respected on both sides of the ball. Now we’re actually hearing players in the league that want to come to Seattle, like Jeremiah Trotter, one of the NFL’s best middle linebackers (a position of definite need in Seattle) that is expected to become available June 1st when the Redskins will most likely cut him.

Imagine that. A top-tier NFL player that wants to come here. That lone voice, after so many years of silence, is deafening. It’s shouting, loud and clear, two things – that Ray Rhodes was the right man to hire for the job, and second that Seattle finally is getting the respect it deserves.

Respect. After all these years. Who would’ve thought?

Glenn Geiss writes a column for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to send him feedback at awpilot@wavecable.com.


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