The first Seahawks coach

The first Seahawks coach

About ninety miles from Centurylink Field, the loudest place in the Northwest, 81-year old Jack Patera has found a quiet place to call home.

"I really love it. I mean this is the nicest place that I've ever lived,"said Patera.

Here, outside Cle Elum, on ten scenic acres he shares with two dogs, the first head coach in Seahawks history--a man so strict some players jokingly called him "Evil Jack"--has become one of those nice old men who likes to fish in his river fed pond and play bridge a couple of times a week.

"As you get older, you get a lot more mellow," says Patera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A former pro linebacker, Patera came to the 1976 expansion team Seahawks from the Vikings where he had coached the defensive line known as " The Purple People Eaters". In just his third season, the year the Hawks went 9 and 7--Patera was named NFL coach of the year. His reaction revealed an uneasy relationship with the press.

"It isn't something that jumps out at you like you people here," said Patera surrounded by microphones in 1980.

"I think I was greatly misinterpreted by the press," says Patera today, "whether it was the print press or television".

Patera's Seahawks were an exciting team to watch.

"We beat some teams we had no business beating," he says.

In 1979 they defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football thanks to a now legendary call. It began with what looked like a 55 yard field goal attempt by the 5 foot 9 placekicker Efren Herrera. Quarterback Jim Zorn holding.

"They had nobody in the middle," says Patera. "They rushed equally from both outsides so we said why not send Efren up the middle because there's no one there and Jim just stood up and threw him the ball."

Hererra got the first down. Three plays later Dan Doornick put the Seahawks up for good.

"I think a successful coach has imagination," says Patera. "You have to have imagination."

Patera lost his job during the 1982 strike season and never coached again.If he was bitter about his dismissal then, he isn't anymore.

"I had a great time. I really did enjoy myself. I'm sorry we didn't win more."

Patera says Seahawk fans have always been the best in the league . In 2005 he came back to Seattle to raise the 12th man flag, but these days he prefers to watch the hawks on TV .

When we asked what he would be doing Saturday, when the Carolina Panthers come to town , Patera said "Probably the same thing I do every day, waiting for the game to start."

KING


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