It was Seahawks Pride Week before the NFC championship game, and Ken Geddes dug out something special for his daughter and son to wear that Friday to their jobs in the Seattle Public Schools district.
They pulled on blue No. 36 jerseys, so old and tattered and full of history that their students and even co-workers might not have understood the significance.
But Geddes knew. And he could take a minute to feel proud himself.
Geddes, a former Nebraska linebacker and nose guard, became one of the original Seahawks in 1976 when the NFL expansion team selected him off the Los Angeles Rams’ roster. He played three seasons with Seattle as the franchise started down the runway toward this point — four decades later — that it is now preparing for its second Super Bowl in eight years.
“It’s a different era, different time, so now I’m a fan, just like any other fan,” said Geddes, an All-Big Eight player for NU in the late 1960s and considered one of the best athletes to come out of Boys Town. “But I enjoy the team and I’m enjoying this success, and I feel part of that.”
Geddes, 66, has watched it all unfold after deciding to stay in Seattle when his nine-year NFL career was finished.
There were six head coaches between the first, Jack Patera, and Pete Carroll. The Kingdome was imploded in 2000 to make room for CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks jumped from the NFC to the AFC and back to the NFC. The uniforms changed, if you hadn’t noticed.
But Geddes said there’s also been one constant.
“We’ve really got great fans up here,” he said. “The city has always been behind the team. Even in their beginning years, their formative years, they’ve backed the team. It’s really a good sports town.”
Geddes will gather with friends Sunday to watch Seattle-Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s usually his preference to catch the Seahawks on TV, although he’ll go to some games and alumni functions.
But Nebraska football still remains as much his passion as the Seahawks. Every Saturday in the fall, Ken and Carole Geddes will gather with the Washington Cornhuskers crew to see Husker games at the Lucky 7 Bar and Grill in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.
Although Ken hasn’t been back to Lincoln for a handful of years, they still have Husker season tickets. Carole, originally from York, was still going to a couple of games a season until this past fall, and they ship the tickets to family members when they aren’t going to use them.
A piece of Ken Geddes’ past as a Husker actually made it easier for him to go from the Rams to the Seahawks via the top pick in the veteran allocation draft.
Geddes was a sophomore on the Bob Devaney team that started the 1967 season with a 17-7 win at Washington. He still recalls flying into Seattle, seeing Mount Rainier and being struck by the surroundings despite a short stay.
“I fell in love with it,” he said.
Still, the Rams had gone 12-2, 10-4 and 12-2 in his last three seasons with Chuck Knox, and anybody heading for the expansion Seahawks or Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to be prepared for the worst.
“When Coach called me in and said I was drafted in the expansion draft by Seattle, I was shocked — and actually disappointed by the fact that they left me unprotected,” Geddes said. “But then I was excited, because I liked Seattle, and I had never got back to Seattle.”
So he went back, and never left.
Geddes retired recently after 21 years with the Seattle Public Schools — where he finished his career as a middle school counselor — although he still substitute teaches on occasion. Before that, he worked for a nonprofit group that helped families, and also became certified as a drug and alcohol counselor.
Enough people still remember him, he said, that he occasionally gets cards or pictures or other items in the mail, with the request to be autographed. Some correspondents might even include a question about his career.
“I don’t know why,” he said, “but it makes you feel good.”
Other than the jerseys and a few other pieces of memorabilia, though, he never got too caught up in saving stuff or displaying much around his home.
“Because for me it was like a job,” Geddes said. “I never got too involved in the hype of it.
“I had heard of and seen people that when it was time to leave, it was tough for them. All the time I was playing, I established a lifestyle that I could maintain after football.”
That goes back to lessons learned at Boys Town, where Geddes arrived as a 13-year-old after family circumstances changed in Jacksonville, Fla. He became a star athlete in three sports, and played on state championship teams in football and basketball.
“I had really good training at Boys Town,” he said. “If not for Boys Town, maybe I wouldn’t have had that kind of background.”
Some experience with fresh starts probably helped, too, when Geddes was shuffled off to Seattle and got to find out how this whole Seahawk thing would work.
The Seahawks already were posting winning records by their third and fourth seasons, while Tampa Bay struggled immensely. There have been the usual highs and lows since, but Geddes said the backing of current owner Paul Allen ensures Seattle all the financials it needs to keep soaring.
More than anything, though, Geddes credits the recent transformation to Carroll.
“He seems to be a real personable type coach,” Geddes said. “I think of him similarly to how Devaney was when I was at Nebraska, as far as how he’s involved with his players and how his players really loved him.”