Sat, Sep 25, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Bold move for Grant Wistrom brings quick reward


Any Seahawks fan properly encrusted by 20 years without a postseason victory knows not to go the full Labrador puppy over a 2-0 start, even when the wins were on the road.

History says that trap doors and upturned rakes will intrude on every footfall. Anvils loom on ledges above. Land sharks knock at the door.

But while said Seahawks fan ponders whether to look under the bed for the inevitable monster, it is possible to draw courage at this early juncture of the season from the fact the local club did a splendid thing when it signed Grant Wistrom.

Even if they paid him like a sheikh when he wasn't "The Freak."

When it was announced in March the Seahawks gave Wistrom US$14 million for his signature on a contract (total value US$33 million over six years), tongues wagged in the NFL bazaars. It was said that the bonus was way too much, as was the value of the contract.

As a defensive end, Wistrom was very good, but he was also a bit small and a bit slow, especially compared to Jevon Kearse, the widely hailed "Freak" who left Tennessee in free agency to join Philadelphia.

A couple of days earlier in March, Kearse was given the biggest contract awarded a defensive lineman, US$66 million over eight years, including a US$16 million signing bonus.

Monday night Kearse helped explain the investment when the Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-16 largely by throttling one of the league's best offenses. Even though the Vikings spent most of the game in Eagles territory, they came away with just three field goals until a fairly meaningless touchdown late in the game.

Although Kearse was credited with only two tackles, he was so isruptive the Vikings were thrown off by his mere presence.

"What they did was to make us find him before we could block him," Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper told "He was all over the place. It was like he had a [clone] or something."

Such game-altering talents are so rare, especially in football, that premium coin is required for such services. While Wistrom isn't as versatile as Kearse, his game in the Seahawks' 10-6 win over Tampa Sunday -- a forced fumble, two sacks and seven tackles -- demonstrated similar impact, as well as similar justification for investment.

And, hey, they got him practically for half price.

The Seahawks also needed another leader, a guy with a relentless motor, as they like to say in the NFL. So, much in the fashion of the 1997 move to swoop free agent linebacker Chad Brown from Pittsburgh, they flew in Wistrom, locked the door and threw so much money at him he had to say yes.

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