DK edit: This interview was originally published on January 6th. Our own Joshua Kasparek will be working on a piece over the next few days that will take a look at the remarkable career that Marcus Trufant has had here in Seattle, but for now I wanted to re-post this because it paints a pretty good picture of the type of guy that Marcus really is - a true class act. The title of this interview says it all - Marcus will always be a Seahawk - and wherever he continues his playing career, that will not change.
There was a time when NFL players spent their entire career with one team. Now, many wistful nostalgics will tell you it's because they played in a time before all the me-first, million-dollar, prima donna nonsense you see nowadays and, if you don't cut them off, they'll also tell you about how when you bought a toaster in the '60s, you bought that toaster for life, not like now, where you gotta go get a new one every two years. Perhaps there was more loyalty in the olden days of the NFL, and maybe players did feel obliged to finish where they started, but more likely it's because before free agency players couldn't say diddly poo about where and for whom they played.
Either way, there's no question that the days of spending an entire career with one team are all but over. There are still some exceptions (Ed Reed and Ray Lewis of the Ravens, Donald Driver with the Packers, and a few others) but by and large, most players with long careers end up spending at least some time in a uniform other than the one they started with.
For what it's worth, I've got no problem with players exercising their leverage regarding where they play and for how much and I actually tend to side with most players in contract disputes. Even so, I think there's something special about a player staying with one team for the majority, if not entirety, of his playing days and Seattle been fortunate enough to have someone who has done just that.
Marcus Trufant has been such a consistent part of the Seahawks that it's easy to forget just how valuable he's been. Drafted 11th overall in 2003, Trufant established himself as a viable concern for opposing quarterbacks pretty early on and eventually developed into a bona fide All-Pro talent, peaking with an incredibly boxscore-filling 2007 season (7 picks, 15 passes broken up, 85 tackles). Back then, the Truf did anything but set people free, instead clamping down on opposing wide-outs and turning even the slightest throwing mistakes into immediate regrets. Toss in the facts that he was born in Tacoma (on Christmas!), was All-Everything at Wilson High, and developed into a first-round talent at Washington State University before being taken by the Seahawks, and Marcus Trufant is a certified state treasure.
A string of injuries, including the sacrum-related one that cost him this most recent season, and his struggles to regain the lockdown status he once had, have limited his impact and has (sadly) diminished many a fan's memory of how good he's been. For those wondering, he's still hanging around with the 'Hawks and lending his wisdom to the fleet of young DBs we've become so enamored with, as well as continuing his long-standing charity work in the PNW.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview the longest-tenured Seahawks player on the roster, the Hawkfather, if you will (and even if you won't) and I can say that he was as engaging and friendly as could possibly be expected from a pro athlete, or really anyone else for that matter. Click through the jump to read more.
As I mentioned before, the version of Marcus Trufant that is prominent in many of our minds is the one that has been struggling to come back from injuries the last three years, most recently from one that sounds like a forced George Lucas movie: Indiana Jones and the Bruised Sacrum. I openly admitted to Trufant that I didn't know what a bruised sacrum was, and he was happy to clarify. "It started as a bruised tailbone you know, but it turned into a herniated disc. Your back is connected to everything and if that's out of whack, your whole body is."
When I was 23, I dislocated both of my shoulders and, thinking I was macho and seeing as I was without health insurance, I thought I'd just re-set them myself. I spent the next eight months being unable to raise my arms over my head and couldn't believe how infuriating it was to go without doing things I had gotten so used to doing -- and I'm just some guy. Trufant has spent damn near the entirety of his life being one of the most athletically capable individuals on any field of play he's ever been on and he admitted just how frustrating it is to be reduced to a version of himself that can't do the things he's accustomed to. "It's tough; I love being on the field, being in the game, being with the fellas and it's frustrating not being out there. I mean, it's gotten a whole lot better, I can do a little bit of everything, but no contact or anything like that."
I can't help but feel that if I was in Marcus' place, it would be easy to retreat into my own little world, discouraged by the series of events that may spell the end of my career, forcing myself to be content with my adjusted future, but he seems anything but resigned, "I'm still there everyday. I can't practice yet, but I still attend meetings, do my own workouts." Instead of allowing his inactivity to distance him from the younger incarnation of the Seahawks secondary he has so dutifully inhabited for the better part of a decade, Trufant has kept himself involved with the squad, especially with the cornerbacks, "I still feel like I'm a part of the team. Brandon (Browner), Richard (Sherman) -- they're great corners and they ask questions, so I do my best to help them out as someone who's been in the league for while." And his response to the youngsters? "I just try to lead by example for them. I don't give a bunch of speeches, and I'm not always perfect, but I just try to work hard and hopefully they can see that that's what it takes."
Many of us have played sports, or been a part of something in which our personal achievements and failures affect the performance of the group as a whole. In those situations, sometimes what's best for you personally is not necessarily what's best for the collective and, if you're anything like me in those situations, an internal struggle exists between trying to get yours and wanting what's best for the collective. It's an honest challenge for me, so to hear someone who has accomplished so much be as gracious and helpful as Trufant has been is truly remarkable. I asked him what lay ahead of him, in that regard, and he answered quickly and earnestly, "It's too early to say, exactly, but I'm just focusing on getting healthy so I can do what's best for the team."
In the meantime, Marcus has spent much of his free time contributing to the Trufant Family Foundation. We constantly hear about professional athletes starting charities and, at least for me, it kind of rolls over me like of course so-and-so has a charity, but after asking him a number of football-related questions, the one query I posed that got the most enthusiastic response was the one regarding TFF. "Oh man, that is near an dear to my heart. I got the whole fam involved; mom, dad, aunts, uncle, everyone is helping out. The goal is to set up scholarships for kids by working with local high schools and Boys & Girls Clubs. It's for everyone, you know. Hopefully we can set an example that if you have a plan and stick with it, good things will happen. Everyone has a chance."
Look, like most of you, I've been a Seahawks fan my whole life and, despite my often fanatical impulses, I've always prided myself on a rational, what's-best-for-the-team mindset, even when it comes at the expense of the feel good story. That said, there's a huge part of me that hopes that the only Seahawk who's been with the team for eight years, and one of the few, if not the only (Davis, a little help here?) to survive the ruthless PC/JS roster-churn, can finish out his career with the team. I asked Marcus about the possibility of playing elsewhere and he said, in no uncertain terms, "I'm a Seahawk, man. Always have been. That's where my focus is."
The NFL is a frozen-steel threshing machine that has chopped many a career into stunted chapters. A lifelong member of one team, especially one that has seen so much turnover, is really something special. As Trufant told me, "Not many people have done that." Marcus Trufant may not get to finish his career as a one-team player -- both management and player have a big decision looming -- but the amount of time he's spent with the team we love is something to be appreciated.
As far as being the 'Hawkfather, "Nah man, (laughing), I can't say that."
Yes you can, Marcus.