John Nordstrom keeps close ties to Seahawks despite selling team years ago

Nov 20, 2015, 11:13 AM | Updated: 12:25 pm
Former Seahawks’ owner John Nordstrom visits with long snapper Clint Gresham before last Sund...
Former Seahawks' owner John Nordstrom visits with long snapper Clint Gresham before last Sunday's game against Arizona at CenturyLink Field. (Josh Kerns/KIRO Radio)
(Josh Kerns/KIRO Radio)

When the Seahawks take on the 49ers Sunday, you can count on one of their biggest fans patrolling the sidelines before the game.

Many might not recognize him, but they certainly know his name. After all, John Nordstrom isn’t merely the figurehead of the famous family. He played a huge part in bringing the team to town in the first place.

Related: Meet the top hawk at CenturyLink Field

I caught up with Nordstrom as he surveyed the scene on the sidelines as he always does before last Sunday’s game against Arizona at CenturyLink Field.

He follows the team closely all these years later, even though his family hasn’t owned the team since selling it to California real estate developer Ken Behring in 1988.

Interestingly, Nordstrom admits his family wasn’t even looking to get into football when the NFL was taking applications for an expansion franchise.

“We were going to try to get the baseball team and Danny Kaye and his group got it. We couldn’t have the baseball team so we decided ‘well, we’re organized. We know the football team is coming, let’s see if we can get the football team,'” he said.

“I had a full-time job as did the rest of my family. So we really didn’t need something to do.”

But he threw himself into the team once they got it. The game and the business was far different though back in 1976.

“It’s like this is the major leagues and when we had the team it was really kind of triple-A football,” he said as he surveyed the pregame spectacle.

Certainly, the players were far less pampered, he said.

“In our day, they brought their own sack lunches to the practices. Just a huge difference. But it’s so much better now.”

Nordstrom credits Paul Allen with pouring so many resources into the team, practice facility, and stadium. But the Seahawks we know today almost never happened.

In 1996, Behring decided to move the team to Southern California. He even opened offices in Anaheim, and moving trucks packed up team headquarters and headed south, before a potential lawsuit determined the team was locked into a lease at the Kingdome through 2005.

Nordstrom was devastated by what was happening.

“That was the very bottom. That was a very low point,” he said. “Paul (Allen) has done a great job of bringing us where we are today.”

That includes three Super Bowl appearances in the last decade, and one of the most successful franchises off the field in all of pro sports.

But Allen never forgets Nordstrom’s role in building the foundation. The billionaire made sure Nordstrom was a part of the awards ceremony held for all team employees after the Super Bowl championship, even awarding him his own ring.

Nordstrom isn’t satisfied living in the past, though. While he fondly wears his Super Bowl championship jacket on the sidelines, he’d just as soon get a new one.

“I’m dreaming about it, but I’m not counting on it yet,” he said.

“Then you better stick around,” I said.

“You bet,” he laughed.

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John Nordstrom keeps close ties to Seahawks despite selling team years ago