Sports

Ferguson returns home to lead Seahawks

Things were a lot different when Spike Ferguson moved his family to Federal Way back in 1955 to open a dentist office.

The never-ending strip malls that seem to line every corner of Federal Way hadn’t been erected yet, and people were still hunting bear in the woods which now host housing developments.

Bob Ferguson was just 3 then and clueless to the fact he would grow up to hold one of the most coveted jobs in the National Football League — the Seattle Seahawks general manager — when his father, Spike, moved them into a hotel on Highway 99.

“(Hotels) were about all there was back then,” Ferguson told a full Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club banquet room Wednesday afternoon at the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce’s June membership luncheon.

“We then moved to the corner of 312th and Eighth. Houses were about $20,000 back then and that was a lot for a house,” he said.

Ferguson went on to Mirror Lake Elementary School, Lakota Junior High and eventually graduated from Federal Way High School as a stud athlete.

“We used to call ourselves Federal Way rats,” Ferguson said. “I’ve got a lot of ties here.”

He then went on to letter three times and earn All-Pac-8 honors following his junior and senior seasons as a linebacker at the University of Washington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in radio/television communications.

Ferguson’s current tenure with the Seahawks is actually the second time he has called the Kirkland-based football team home. Following his 1973 graduation from the U of W, Seattle gave Ferguson his first job in the NFL.

“In 1975, the Seahawks got the franchise and I was fortunate enough to get a job driving people around and picking up mail,” Ferguson said. “I was bartending at night to pay the bills. That’s how I started.”

After five years with the Hawks, Ferguson moved on to the Mecca of NFL franchises — the Dallas Cowboys and their Hall of Fame coach Tom Laundry.

Ferguson handled performance testing for the Cowboys from 1984 to 1985 and after working as an esteemed talent evaluator from 1981 to ’83.

Following his tenure in “Big D,” Ferguson joined the Buffalo Bills organization in 1985 and held a variety of personnel positions before being promoted to assistant general manager/director of pro personnel in 1989.

The Bills proceeded to win four consecutive AFC titles and make four Super Bowl appearances from 1990 to 1993. His personnel guidance and decisions contributed to the acquisition of players such as running back Thurman Thomas and linebacker Cornelius Bennett, among others.

“It was fun going to those Super Bowls,” he said.

Ferguson was named director of player personnel for the Denver Broncos from 1993 to 1995 before joining the Arizona Cardinals, where he was the general manager until taking over the Seahawks.

Ferguson took over the general manager job with Seattle from Mike Holmgren following last football season.

“Mike was willing to relinquish some of his power,” Ferguson said. “And I think that was a relief for him. Now we want to reach back to the fans. We want to go out and sell the Seahawks again.”

A good opening sales pitch would be putting a winning team on the new Seahawks Stadium field –– something that hasn’t happened on a consistent basis since the 1980s.

“This is an exciting time and should be a great season,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson’s first job in the Seahawks’ front office came last month at the NFL draft when he helped pick Washington State University cornerback Marcus Trufant, a Tacoma native, in the first round.

Now, his attention turns to signing All-Pro left offensive tackle Walter Jones to a long-term contract.

“He is our only hold-out in minicamp,” Ferguson said. “We need to get (his contract) done. But I think we will.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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