KJ Wright Always Does It Right And Other Matters

“KJ always does it right.”

Those were the words that my wife would hear out of my mouth whenever I would see KJ make a splash play as a starting linebacker for my Seattle Seahawks. Fortunately, there were a lot of those plays over the years. But that’s not the reason KJ will always be one of my favorite all-time Hawks. It runs deeper than that.

Yesterday, July 28th, 2022, was a weird day for me. I was commuting home on I-5 through downtown with my work bud when we got stuck in a major traffic stall because a truck carrying oxygen tanks caught fire and those tanks started to.. explode. To our fortune, we weren’t close to the truck of exploding tanks, and we were eventually diverted down an on ramp that led us through downtown and back on southbound lanes.

But it was there in that jam where my pal, Ray, while checking Facebook, learned that we had suddenly lost a friend. Major double whammy.

Nick Garrison was a legend in the Seattle theatre community to which both Ray and I have been a part of for many years, and have each done shows with him. Nick was breathtakingly watchable and sharply funny, but there was a lot more to him that that.

I have only been in one production with Nick. It was Twelfth Night at the Seattle Rep that featured a star studded cast of Seattle theatre royalty and some fancy actors out of New York. I had a tiny chorus role, and Nick played the tiny principal character of Fabian. In a role that required very little stage time, and dialogue, Nick Garrison stole that entire production away from a bunch of serious heavy hitters, and he did it without upstaging anyone. He was just that dynamically sharp and fascinating to watch.

But off-stage, Nick Garrison was an even bigger sweetheart with what always appeared to be a purely kind soul. I’ve never personally known another person who has that much talent and that much outward kindness. The theatre scene is ripe with talent and some expected big egos that can come with it. I was not super close with Nick, but around him, I never sensed a whiff of ego.

This is KJ Wright to me, and why I think he’s one of the absolute greatest Seahawks of all time. He was ultra talented as a player, but he was even a better person to everyone around him.

At 6-4 and 250 lbs, he looked like a NFL defensive end, but he was a pure off-ball middle linebacker who used that length and strength to his advantage along with his next level instincts. I have been a diehard Seahawks fan since the early 1980’s and there are very few games of this team that I have not watched. I have seen a lot of good linebackers play here, but I have never seen another Seahawk linebacker routinely blow up screen plays like KJ was able to do in his diagnosis of what the offense was trying to do.

“Don’t get fooled by the oke doke” is something I heard him say on sports radio when he was early in his career and quickly found himself in the starting lineup and playing at a high level. It was evident that KJ was taught and understood football awareness at a high level, and that was, for certain, one of his NFL superpowers that he used to pair with his rare size at his position.

KJ made plays. He was good in coverage. He was good in space. He was great at the line of scrimmage when needed, but I think he was even a better teammate, and that was his ultimate superpower. He deeply cared about people, and he had the courage to lift them up whenever he felt that was needed.

You cannot put a value number on what that means to any organization to have that type of person around. Sure, there were splashier players on Seattle’s legendary defense, and we can list them together, but KJ’s role within that defense, in my opinion, was absolutely as vital.

He was a galvanizing piece to the puzzle that made for one of the absolute best defenses of all time. His ultimate strength as a player was his heart and how he let it shine towards his brothers and anyone else around that organization.

Nick Garrison will deeply be remembered for his immense talent and kindness in a tight knit Seattle theatre community. He inspired many, and touched a lot of souls. I was not super close with him, but he was always one of my favorite people to bump into. He made me feel like I mattered.

As I write this out, I find this odd poetry that Nick passed away around the same time that KJ Wright signed a one day contract in order to retire a Seattle Seahawks. Having known Nick, and from what I know of KJ, they operated very similarly. Inside, they were built the same way, I suspect. There is no value to be placed on these type of people.

When my son grows throughout his life, I will tell him about KJ Wright. I will say to him that KJ always did it right. I was share with him my memories of watching him put George Kittle on his ass as well as how special of a guy we was, and how special his final press conference was to watch.

I will also tell my boy about Nick, I suspect.

“Just be a good person.”

That’s what KJ said in response to the question that asked what he wanted his legacy to be about at his final press conference. The most important thing to him is being there for others around him.

KJ Wright is many things, but a good person is what he is most, and that should mean everything in football and life. It is my hope that his legacy carries over with this new look Seattle Seahawk team, and there will be someone on that roster who will carry forth what he meant for this club. That, in my opinion, is the surest path to building this team back up again into a special one.

And to any friend of mine who knew Nick Garrison well, and happens to be reading this, I am really sorry for your loss. He was special.

Peace and love, and go Hawks.


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