Seattle – It was a night of fond farewells to decades of memories at 92-year-old Husky Stadium.
But it was also a welcome-back party.
A troop of older, huskier, less intimidating but more relaxed players from the 1991 UW national-championship team returned as part of a 20-year anniversary reunion.
Big names, too – such as receivers Mario Bailey (remember the Heisman Trophy pose?) and Joe Kralik; offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy; quarterback Billy Joe Hobert; defensive tackle Steve Emtman; and linebackers Donald Jones and Dave Hoffman were all there.
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“It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years for us,” Kennedy said. “Really, I can’t wrap my hands around that.”
Many of the players arrived Friday. They attended UW’s walkthrough in preparation for the game Saturday against Oregon. And coach Steve Sarkisian allowed a few of them, notably Kennedy and Jones, to address current players.
“It is like what I told the guys, ‘You stand on the shoulders of generations before you, just as I did when I was here.’ There is a lot of pride,” Kennedy said. “It really means something to the community – this team always has, this school always has.”
Billy Joe Hobert, the Puyallup product who now runs a training facility in California called “Prodigy Athletes,” spent time in an outer parking lot tailgating with his family – including son Joey.
“Two years ago, it was purely a business trip, except coming to the game and getting back into UW football,” Hobert said. “This year, it is all personal – all about rehashing memories and walking down memory lane and reminiscing with all the boys on the team, and remembering what we did. Often times, you forget how good you used to be – for the most part.”
For one weekend, the boys were hailed as the most accomplished in school history – and one of the best ever in college football.
NEXT 48 HOURS: QUIET
With so much fanfare and buildup surrounding the closing of Husky Stadium, activity over the next couple of days will be benign.
“It will be silent,” UW athletic director Scott Woodward said. “There will be a lot of moving, but no excavation – unlike at Stanford where they were working day and night. … Ours is going to be more methodical – at a frenetic pace but just not as dramatic.”
Former coach Don James and his wife, Carol, were part of the pregame coin flip ceremony that Oregon won. …The 1991 national-title team was honored in the west end zone at the start of the second quarter – with a highlight video. … “Mighty are the Memories” buttons were passed out to spectators attending the game. … Evan Hudson made his first career start when the Huskies came out in a three tight end set on their first play. … Running back Chris Polk needed 84 yards coming into the game to become the only UW rusher to post three 1,100-yard seasons.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442