The Beginning: "I think when I was 5 years old, I got my first Bart Starr uniform," Krieg said.
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The Seahawk Years: Dave Krieg trotted from the bench, threw touchdown passes to Steve Largent and Paul Johns and engineered a third.
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Retirement: Fitting that after so many years, Dave Krieg chose to return to the place where he began his NFL career to announce his retirement.
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What Others Say About Dave: Jerry Wunsch -- "When I was growing up, Seattle was my favorite team because of a guy name Dave Krieg. ...
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Dave on Dave: "Sometimes you just wonder how I've been able to last 17 years coming from Milton College," Krieg said.
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What You Say about Dave: Dave is my favorite football player of all time for one reason. He played at the highest possible level that his talent would allow and then he squeezed out even more by working hard.
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Dave Krieg for Ring of Honor! He's made it! Thanks to all of you who sent letters to petition the Seahawks for Dave's rightful place in the Ring of Honor!
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Dave's World Tour: Dave's been ... uh ... he's been ... well ... I'm not sure where all he's been but some of our super secret Seahawks fans have spotted him in some interesting places and we've got the film to prove it!!
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Dave's Stats: He ranks seventh in the NFL all-time in attempts (5,309), completions (3,105) and passing touchdowns (261). His 38,147 passing yards rank eighth.
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From Pinto to BMW – A Tribute to Dave Krieg

By Don Christensen
Date: Sep 26, 2004

On Sunday, September 26, quarterback Dave Krieg became the eighth member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor.  Freelance writer,  Don Christensen looks back at a man who enjoyed a 19 year NFL career that began at age 20 ...against all odds.


Before the Seahawks media guides were made available to correct any mispronunciations, a buzz about a “Dave Kreeg” began circulating during the 1980 pre-season. Word was spreading around the Puget Sound area that Dave Krieg (pronounced “Craig”) looked to be a promising young passer for the Seahawks, with a knack for throwing the deep ball.

At $25,000 per year with a $500.00 signing bonus, Krieg did well to drive his Ford Pinto and survive his first years, symbolizing his status as an undrafted free agent with only a dream and barely enough resources to get to camp. Rumor has it that he even brought along the helmet from his alma mater, the NCAA Div. III Independent Milton Wildcats.

The Zorn Days

Although Seattle had a respectable 9-7 season in 1979, fans were getting uneasy about a team that had gone over-the-top with fake punts, field goals and muffed passes to kickers. The gimmicks that characterized Seahawks football raised eyebrows in a more sophisticated football city, basking in the gold plated “Purple Haze” of success, discipline and tradition by Don James and The University of Washington Athletic Department.

While local hero Jim Zorn was running for his life with little protection by the O-line, his career was not taking on Fran Tarkenton qualities. As if Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s promise to bring parity to the NFL were a money-back guarantee, Dan Fouts became the standard against which pro quarterbacks were measured by all expectations. Additionally, on the West Coast, Joe Montana quickly advanced as the rising star of the early 1980s. In the minds of local sportswriters and fans, Zorn was not measuring up.

The abysmal 4-12 1980 season included back-to-back nationally televised embarrassments from a Monday Night debacle to a Thanksgiving Day disaster against the Dallas Cowboys, which eventually pushed Jack Patera to the hot seat. Seattle’s sparkling, silver bird of an NFL franchise had crashed and burned like a 707 without a horizontal stabilizer.

Whether you call it intuition or desperation, Coach Patera benched Zorn and started Krieg at the beginning of the 1982 season. It was an astounding decision to some, but made sense considering Krieg’s first NFL start, on December 6th, 1981 when he showcased 20 of 26 passes for 264 yards with two TD's and a rushing TD on the road in Denver.

Krieg’s run at the helm lasted only two weeks until the players' strike. Before the walkout, Krieg was nursing an injured thumb. Before long, Patera was fired. Interim Coach Mike McCormack went back to Zorn at the end of the 1982 season when the strike was over.

Uncertain of his future, Krieg patiently drove his Pinto back and forth to the Kirkland facility, forming friendships with fellow players like Ron Essink while working under the tutelage of Jim Zorn.

Before camp opened the following summer, new coach Chuck Knox, known for a ball control offense, announced that he was opting to start Zorn. At face value, this made sense for a couple of reasons. Zorn was considered to be one of the best play-fake QBs in the NFL where play-action can sync very well with a consistent running game. Also, Zorn’s range and style fit Knox’s conservative playbook, since real estate on the run was the first objective and passing, while important, came second. As a part of his approach, Knox favored experience over youth, bringing in names like Harold Jackson, Charlie Young, Reggie McKenzie and Blair Bush. Household names like Zorn and Largent fit right into Knox’s plan. Knox was an offensive line coach at heart, so for once, Zorn would finally get the protection he needed to play his best game.

Deep down, Dave Krieg had other aspirations. "I knew I had to deliver a knockout blow to dislodge the champ", Krieg once intimated, regarding his hopes of replacing Zorn as the starter one day.

Statistically, Zorn was not featured in the Seahawk offense for the first 8 games of the season. The focus was on running back Curt Warner. Additionally, Tom Catlin’s ball-hawking defense factored into most of the success early in the Knox era, where in the first half of the 1983 season, the Hawks were winning only half of their games and that, mostly by turnovers.

From day one, Knox preached a modified message of Vince Lombardi’s: in a game of inches, a team needs to find that little, minute difference that enables a team to move from the status of “the have-nots to becoming one of the haves.”

In games where the QB’s ability to bring a team from behind was the critical factor (in other words, where “Ground Chuck” was not enough offense to play catch-up football) Zorn was having difficulty rallying the troops to produce. His diminished passing ability began to uncover a reality with which several players on the team were already familiar.

Rolling out and circling back and forth to get a pass off had proven to put Zorn in peril too often. More than his share of sacks to the point of injury had eventually altered his skills and abilities as a pro passer. Throwing from the pocket sounds great in theory, but years of pocketless offense simply took its toll. One can only wonder what Zorn’s career would have been like had the offensive line been disciplined and developed under Knox’s system from day one.

The New QB

On October 23, 1983 a Kingdome crowd of 61,615, normally roaring like thunder and engulfed in waves, sat stunned as the Pittsburgh Steelers led the Seahawks 24-0 at halftime. Zorn had thrown eight passes and completed one, for two yards, and had two interceptions. Chuck Knox was still looking for the single factor that pushed his Seahawks to the level of competing head-to-head with the Chuck Nolls and the Steelers of the NFL.

After halftime, Dave Krieg trotted onto the field and immediately clicked with the offense. Coach Chuck Knox had made a decision that became known to be “the turning point” of the “Cinderella Season,” hoping to "get something going". And get something going he did. While watching this game on national television in the Midwest, this writer recalls that it was as if the Seahawk offensive line deliberately allowed the Steelers to maul Jim Zorn during the first half, only to give Dave Krieg sublime protection during the second half. Whether it was conspiratorial or not, Dave Krieg inspired his team, as he proceeded to throw touchdown passes to Steve Largent and Paul Johns.

In the ensuing defensive series, Manu Tuiasosopo hit Franco Harris to force a fumble that was snapped-up by Kenny Easley at the Steelers’ 11 yard line. On the next play, Krieg was forced out of the pocket and he scrambled for 11 yards for an apparent touchdown. A holding penalty took the score away and gave Seattle a first and 20 from the 21. On the very next play, Krieg hit Largent for the third touchdown. With 1:49 left to play, Krieg and the Seahawks had the ball on their own 30. A 28 yard march downfield came up short at the Pittsburgh 42 as Krieg’s fourth-down passing attempt was deflected by the Steelers Dwyane Woodruff.

It became the loss that was in reality the “win” for the Seahawks.

Knox said to Krieg, “the job is yours until you lose it.” Finally, Krieg had delivered the “knockout blow to dislodge the champ.” In sportsman-like fashion, Zorn gave his public endorsement of Krieg, emphasizing number 17’s good vision downfield, his strong arm and his ability to improvise and rally the team.

While competitors by position, it is well known that Jim Zorn and Dave Krieg maintained a close, cordial relationship through their time as Seahawk QBs, reflecting a sense of unity in the locker room that became infectious to the entire team. That relationship of mutual respect between Zorn and Krieg continues to this very day.

It is no wonder that Zorn, after facing his share of criticism by the press and fans, would be vindicated by multiple honors. As the team’s quarterbacks coach today, he continues to shape the destiny and future of the Seahawks on a variety of levels.

Krieg eventually led Seattle to a 5-3 record for the last half of the season. With only 8 NFL starts, Krieg's totals for the 1983 season (147 passes completed of 243 attempts, for 2,139 yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions) were more typically seen in players with far greater experience, finishing the season as the NFL’s fourth-rated passer. Krieg led Seattle to defeat the New England Patriots in the last game of the 1983 season en route to their first playoff berth ever.

In that very first playoff game, Seattle hosted the Denver Broncos at home on Christmas Eve. Victoriously at the end of the game, Pete Gross announced Seattle’s first playoff victory over the radio, “you can pack your bags for Miami, it is all over here.” As the Seahawks man-handled the Broncos, Krieg utilized several receivers in that game, passing right through the coverage of famed Denver defensive back Louis Wright. Some say that it was one of the most poised performances Krieg ever put up in the Kingdome.

One of Krieg’s moments of resiliency came to life in the next playoff game in Miami after he threw an untimely interception in the 4th quarter to put the game momentum back into the hands of Dan Marino’s Dolphins. Krieg had been connecting with Paul Johns all day as Largent was covered by a zone defense that prevented a completion between the two. Suddenly, the Dolphins went to a man-to-man defense which (to the surprise and delight of Krieg) gave him an opening to make a midfield completion to Largent. That completion eventually set up Curt Warner for a risky, but effective sweep to the end zone for the win.

The bench ran onto the the field at that win in celebration and the Nordstroms, who were deliberately incognito for much of Knox’s charge, were seen victorious on the sidelines with unprecedented jubilation.

By the next day, the unknown Dave Krieg had become a national celebrity as he was interviewed by Len Berman via KING TV5 during an NBC nationally televised halftime. Krieg acknowledged that the win (now logged-in as the “Miracle over Miami”) had more to do with “character on [his] team’s part” than any single stand-out performer.

Going on to face the Raiders in Los Angeles in one last game away from the Super Bowl very likely epitomized Krieg’s accomplishments and limitations on a single occasion. The eventual Super Bowl Champion Raiders came-on hard and heavy after Krieg, hammering him in play after play. They hit Seattle’s offense with schemes that exceeded the Seahawks’ preparation and poise. Krieg had his first major let down, both in mechanics and confidence. It is a rite-of-passage that every aspiring NFL quarterback must face, but very few face this challenge at the conference championship level.

The Revenge Season

During that off-season, the Seahawks courted Warren Moon heavily, offering him what was rumored to be a blank check (reportedly over $1 million, very high by 1984 standards). However, Moon signed with Houston while Krieg was forced to step-up with far more than expected of him, due to the season-ending injury of Curt Warner at the outset of the ’84 campaign.

Krieg had re-negotiated his contract and soon traded his old worn-out Ford Pinto for a BMW. Transitions between a Pinto and the BMW appropriately symbolized the advance of his career that year. The ’84 Seahawks became the defensive machine that took the AFC by storm. Assistants Tom Catlin (defense) and Rusty Tillman (special teams) redefined the industry standards on creating opportunities in other aspects of the game besides offense. Krieg managed 3,671 in passing yards with 32 TDs. The result was an unforgettable 12 and 4 season, the Seahawks best ever.

A revenge playoff match in the Kingdome against the Raiders set the stage for Krieg to hit Daryl Turner in the end zone for the winning score after a defensive battle. It was to be the last playoff game Seattle would ever win to date. After the 1984 season, Krieg was elected to his first Pro Bowl.

Over time and exposure to persistent high pressure, however, Krieg unfurled some of his weaknesses (fumbles, interceptions and miscues) as fans began to debate his consistency. After an up and down 1985 season and a four game meltdown during the middle of the 1986 season, columnists and critics alike began describing Krieg as a “Jekyll and Hyde” player with hostile comments coming from the fans, including boos in the Dome.

Whereas Zorn was under pressure in his day to live up to the greatness of a Dan Fouts, before long, Krieg’s performances were measured against the likes of John Elway. Eventually, Chuck Knox found himself in a situation with Krieg reminiscent of the Jim Zorn scenario. Before long, however, the differences would be obvious.

At a press conference Knox announced that Gale Gilbert would take over the starting quarterback position from Dave Krieg. This move was not a great shock, but became a definitive point for Krieg’s future where becoming Seattle’s “franchise QB” so-to-speak, never materialized quite the way many had hoped.

The inexperienced Gale Gilbert did little to help the Hawks, however, as they fell to the New York Jets in the Kingdome, 38-7. Ironically it was the Jets who, by winning the last game of their season, edged a solid Seattle team out of the playoffs. Pulling Dave Krieg from the line-up proved to be more costly than the Seahawks might have imagined.

Returning to the starting role for the remainder of 1986, Krieg responded by leading the Hawks to a 5-game winning streak and one of the most memorable finishes at 10 and 6, including a defeat of the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

The Pinnacle Year

It was the 1988 season that became a pinnacle year for Krieg, even though he was only able to play about half of the games. His first game of the season was nearly over-shadowed by the antics of Brian Bosworth in Denver. In that outing, Krieg was only 4 of 13 in the first-half. As was often the case throughout his career, Krieg’s resiliency won out as he threw for two touchdowns in the third quarter to lead the Seahawks to a 21-14 season-opening victory over the Broncos.

“Mudbone,” as his lineman were fond of calling him, was hit very hard in San Diego that season, separating his shoulder and lowering the boom on hopes for an outstanding season for Krieg and the Hawks. After seven weeks in rehab and out of play, Krieg returned (11/13/88) to put together a fight to the finish against Warren Moon’s Houston Oilers. After comparable play by both quarterbacks, Krieg helped cap off the game off with a 10-play drive. This set up Norm Johnson’s game-winning field goal with less than one second to go for a 27-24 victory.

In that 1988 season, Krieg led the NFL in touchdown efficiency and was named AFC player-of-the-week after leading the Seahawks past the Raiders for the division title. In that game, (12-8-88) Krieg passed for 410 yards and four touchdowns. He finished that season with a fourth quarter rally against the Cincinatti Bengals in the playoffs, despite the post-season loss, and was elected to his second Pro Bowl with a QB rating of 94.6 -- second in the NFL.


Among many unsurpassed accomplishments by Dave Krieg, few may be more important than his directing the team as quarterback to
the only three playoff victories in Seahawks history – defeating the Broncos and Dolphins after the '83 season and eliminating the defending champion Raiders after the '84 season.

A three time pro bowler, Dave Krieg stands in the NFL record books ranked 11th all time in passing yardage and 9th in total touchdowns.

Virtually unnoticed, a Ford Pinto showed up at Seahawks camp one day in the early 80s. A very classy BMW drove away in 1992. Just like that finely engineered, classic motor car, its passenger, number 17, Dave Krieg, will remain to be one of the most legendary performers ever to be on display in any Seahawks showroom.

Thanks for the memories, Dave - you are cherished by your fans and we will never forget you!

Don Christensen, a native of the Seattle area  is a freelance writer on sports topics. You can reach him at   

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