Ryan's Place

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Brian Blades

I wrote this for Seahawks.net....It was also posted on Yahoo Sports and FoxSports:

With the 49th pick in the 1988 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Brian Blades from Miami University. Brian Blades came into the Seahawks organization just as Steve Largent was about to leave it. Brian had enormous shoes to fill with the departure of Largent in 1989. However, Brian made a valiant effort to make people not miss Largent, and even broke one of Steve’s records in the process. Shadowed by off-field troubles, Brian had a bad reputation to the casual observer. On second look, however, Brian was one of the hardest and most dedicated workers to play for the Seahawks in his time.

“The thing I liked best about Blades was that he was fearless on the field, and he never quit. He loved to play and he gave his body to the game” – “The Hawkstorian”, Seahawks.NET

Brian Blades had an incredible work ethic that put others to shame. Often praised by coaches for his effort, Blades became a favorite target due to his precise route running and great hands. On the other hand, Blades rarely made big plays and didn’t score many touchdowns. All of the hard work paid off when Blades made the Pro Bowl in 1989. Furthermore, Brian is the only Seahawks wide receiver to ever catch over 80 balls in one season. Brian posted 80 in 1993 and 81 in 1994. Few have come close (Largent had 79 in 1985 and Koren Robinson posted 78 in 2002), but Brian’s record for most receptions in a season has yet to be broken. Brian’s most productive seasons came in 1993-1995, where he averaged over 1,000 yards per season. However, Brian was constantly taking shots over the middle and off-field problems started to set in. Even with all of the problems and health concerns, Brian showed no fear on the field and worked hard to make up for his troubles off the field.

“I remember going to a game in Kansas City a couple of years ago. I was standing above the tunnel that the players walk through to get to the field. There weren't many Seahawk fans around but there were plenty of Chief fans wanting autographs. Several players signed, but it was Blades who kept signing...and signing...and signing...and signing. I remember that he talked to the fans, laughed with them, and lit up the eyes of the children he spoke with. I didn't get Brian's autograph that day, but I stood back watching with amazement as he was so congenial with fans...so classy...such a hero!” – Becky, beckys-place.com.

It’s sad to think that some people I have talked to only remember the bad, or perhaps unlucky Brian. However, many people have no idea how involved Brian was (and still is) with the community. Here is a short list of things Brian has done:

• Organized the Fort Lauderdale Youth Track Club;
• Volunteered as a sprint coach at Coral Springs High School;
• Hosted a Christmas party for homeless children many years in a row;
• Paid utility bills for the elderly;
• Sponsored football camps for kids;
• Provided toys to children in hospitals.

That isn’t all of it either. However, Brian’s crowning achievement is something that he put together with his brother Bennie called The Blades Foundation. The Blades Foundation provides scholarships to minority students who plan to go to college or further their education. If you would like more information about The Blades Foundation, please visit the website: http://www.ycwf.org/blades.htm.

While part of Brian’s career was overshadowed by health problems and off-field troubles, he overcame adversity and succeeded. Brian helped better the lives of people in need with his charitable work while being one of the best Seahawk wide receivers in history. So to put it simply, not only did Brian succeed as a football player, but also as a person.


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