Steve Largent Went Straight From an NFL Star to a Congressman

Fans of Seattle football love to debate about who was the greatest Seahawk of all time. Current quarterback Russell Wilson routinely receives plenty of love. The same can be said for Hall of Fame offensive tackle Walter Jones. Safety Kenny Easley and linebacker Bobby Wagner both also had Hall of Fame careers.

In many fans’ minds, however, the greatest Seahawk has to be Steve Largent. Even more impressive than the Hall of Fame wide receiver’s playing career was the fact that he went on to be a successful congressman as well. Here we take a look back at what Largent achieved as both as a Seahawk and as a member of Congress.

Steve Largent’s playing career

Steve Largent running after catching a pass
Steve Largent | Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Despite being a phenomenal high school athlete, Largent wasn’t extensively recruited by college programs. Instead, he chose to attend the University of Tulsa in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

After an All-American caliber college career, the Houston Oilers selected Largent in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL draft. After just four preseason games, the Oilers traded Largent to the Seahawks for a future eighth-round pick.

Largent quickly proved that he was worth the Seahawks’ minimal investment, receiving for 705 yards and scoring four touchdowns in his rookie season.

In his third year, Largent racked up an impressive 1,168 receiving yards, only to turn around and beat that with 1,237 the following season. That fourth year also saw Largent put up a career-best 82.5 yards per game.

Over the course of his 14 season career in Seattle, Largent was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times, while being the first Seahawks player selected for that honor. He twice led the league in receiving yards. At the time of his retirement in 1989, Largent also had the record for most receiving yards all-time, 13,089.

Largent established himself as both a great player and a great leader. In 1988, he received the NFL Man of the Year award. In Largent’s final year, the Seahawks named an award after him — the Steve Largent Award –and crowned him the first winner. Finally, in 1995, Largent was inducted into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot.

Steve Largent’s political career

Largent’s leadership attributes lent themselves readily to his post-playing career in politics. Five years after his retirement, Largent was elected as a Republican member of Congress for the state of Oklahoma.

Largent spent a lot of his congressional career fighting for causes close to the conservative Christian movement. Likewise, he backed numerous bills designed to reduce or abolish federal tax codes.

In 1998, Largent tried to wrest control of the Majority Leader position from Dick Armey. However, Largent’s views were considered too conservative to please moderate Republicans, and he ultimately lost in the effort. Nonetheless, Largent went on to serve four full terms in Congress, before retiring to run for governor of Oklahoma.

A failed bid for governor

Largent mounted his campaign for governor in 2002. He won the Republican nomination without any trouble and was considered a shoo-in in the largely conservative state.

In the end, however, Largent lost suffered a close loss to Democratic state senator Brad Henry. Among the factors that analysts feel led to his loss was Largent’s uncharacteristic use of profanity when asked by a reporter where he had been at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Following his failed bid for governor, Largent embarked on a career in the tech world. He took over as president and CEO of the trade association CTIA, which represents the U.S. wireless industry.

Now retired, Largent remains active on the boards of various tech companies and is a vocal proponent of innovation in the world of technology and specifically wireless communications.