SEATTLE (BVM) – Professional athletes tend to find themselves well recognized following their careers in their prospective sports. Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan has become one of the most recognizable former athletes thanks to his work as a TV personality. Other athletes such as Terry Crews and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have had their athletic careers eclipsed by new jobs in Hollywood.
But it takes a special kind of athlete to not only succeed in their next career but to do so in such a public setting as politics. However, that’s exactly what Pro Football Hall of Famer and Seattle Seahawks legend Steve Largent did following his NFL career, becoming a U.S. Representative for his native Oklahoma before settling down in recent years as a businessman. Largent, the quiet wide receiver thrust into Seattle’s spotlight, has gone back to his more private roots but his journey has been anything but hidden.
Early life and Tulsa football
Largent was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he went on to star for nearby Putnam City High School. An above-average athlete, never one of truly elite speed or size, Largent used hard work and discipline to attract the attention of scouts, but even then, failed to make a huge impact in recruiting circles nationally despite being an All-State selection. Instead, Largent stayed close to home, attending the University of Tulsa.
Once on campus, Largent quickly ascended to a star. After a freshman season that saw him catch 33 passes for 501 yards and four touchdowns, Largent exploded onto the scene as a sophomore catching 52 passes for 884 yards and 14 touchdowns, which led the nation. The next year, Largent put up similar numbers as he caught 51 passes for 1,000 yards and 14 more receiving touchdowns, again leading the country in that category.
The wideout finished his Golden Hurricane career with 136 receptions for 2,385 yards and 32 touchdowns, averaging a whopping 17.5 yards per catch. The two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection was inducted into the Tulsa Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and his No. 83 jersey was retired by the program in 2008.
After being drafted by the Houston Oilers in the fourth round, pick No. 117 overall, in the 1976 NFL Draft, it seemed Largent’s NFL career was over before it ever started. The Houston coaching staff was unimpressed by the lack of outstanding athleticism from Largent, figuring he was too small and too slow for the league despite his collegiate success. Rather than keep him on the roster, the Oilers shipped the wideout to the expansion Seahawks for an eighth-round pick after just four preseason games.
It didn’t take Largent long to prove how foolish of a move that was. In his first year with Seattle, Largent registered 54 receptions for 705 yards and four touchdowns, finishing the season ranked No. 3 in the NFC in catches. This would be the start of a legendary career in the Emerald City.
Over 14 seasons and 200 career games, Largent became the best player the new franchise had ever seen. At the time of his retirement, the 5-foot-11, 187-pound receiver held career records for receptions with 819, receiving yards with 13,089, receiving touchdowns with 100, most seasons with 50 or more receptions with 10, most seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards with eight and most consecutive games with a reception at 177 straight. All of this came in an era of the NFL, the 1970s-80s, where the sport hadn’t seen the inflated passing statistics in the league today, making the numbers even more impressive.
From Tulsa to @NFL Legend 👑🌀
Congratulations to our very own Steve Largent on being named one of the 10 greatest wide receivers in NFL history!
— Tulsa Football (@TulsaFootball) December 21, 2019
Largent was named to the Pro Bowl seven times and was named first-team All-Pro three times. He retired following the 1989 season. A shoo-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Largent was inducted into Canton in 1995.
Following his NFL career, Largent returned to his hometown of Tulsa where he opened an advertising and marketing consulting firm. During this time, Largent made numerous public appearances at political fundraisers in both his home state and back in Seattle where he was known as a celebrity. It was during this time that Largent decided he would throw his hat into the political ring, running for the U.S. House of Representative seat for the First District of Oklahoma as a Republican in 1994.
Largent went on to win the chair easily, earning over 60% of the vote. This made him just the fifth former NFL player to ever serve in Congress at the time.
The former NFL wideout would be a member of the House for the next decade, serving from 1994 to 2002. In February 2002, Largent announced his resignation from the House of Representatives as he went on to campaign for Governor of Oklahoma that year.
Unfortunately for Largent, this election would not go his way as he lost his bid for Governor to Democrat Brad Henry by less than 7,000 votes. This would put an end to Largent’s run in politics.
The business world
After his loss, Largent became the President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association in November 2003, a role which he held until May 2014. Given his success in the wireless industry, Largent transitioned from CTIA to B+T Group, a Tulsa-based engineering, construction and technical services company for the wireless industry where he currently serves as the Chairman of the Board.
While his days in both the NFL and politics are now long behind him, Largent has used his hardworking nature to find success in the business world, making him one of the more successful former players. Though he may not be in the spotlight these days, Largent is still working hard and making an impact in his home state of Oklahoma.