Honestly, I thought Bobby Engram would be angry when I talked with him early Wednesday afternoon.
After eight seasons, after 399 pass receptions, after being as dependable as the tides, after being one of the leaders during the Super Bowl season of 2005, I thought he would be mad and hurt that the Seahawks hadn’t offered him a contract.
I was expecting him to vent.
But Engram was philosophical, not angry. He was appreciative of the eight seasons he was able to play under coach Mike Holmgren and was ready to take the next step in a remarkable, true-grit career.
“The NFL is a tough business, man,” Engram said. “Did a part of me want to stay here? Yeah, I wanted to finish my career with the Seahawks, but I’m OK with the change. I’m excited by the new challenge. I’m not bitter, I’m not upset. I love Seattle, but I feel like it’s time to move on. Change is in the air with the Seahawks. I’ll keep the memories of my time here, and I will cherish them.”
I believe there still is a place for Engram in the Seahawks’ lineup. General manager Tim Ruskell rightfully believes in signing high-character players, and nobody in the league can question the depth of Engram’s character.
And, even with the much-heralded, much-needed signing of free-agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, even with the return to health of Nate Burleson and Deion Branch, and even though Engram is 36, there are going to be a gaggle of third downs this season when the Hawks will miss him in the slot.
But an era ended in Seattle on Tuesday when Engram signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, who were 2-14 last season.
So much happened to Engram here. He established himself in Seattle. He proved the Chicago Bears were wrong when they cut him after he suffered a torn ACL in 2000.
He went to his only Super Bowl as a Seahawk. His family endured the painful discovery that his daughter had Sickle-cell anemia. And the community rallied to support him and support the foundation he started to help fund Sickle-cell research.
He will be missed.
And the feeling is mutual.
“I’ll miss Qwest with the 12th Man,” Engram said. “Just running out of that tunnel, there’s not much in life that can replace that thrill and that adrenaline rush. And I’ll miss the city. I’ll miss the views, the June days when the mountains are out and the air is so fresh.”
Engram was here for the best days in the franchise’s history. His contribution to those teams was immeasurable. He matured as a player in Seattle.
He could retire today and his legacy would be secure. Engram has caught 645 passes and scored 37 touchdowns. He is a pro and a leader, a throwback, as tough as Dick Butkus or Sam Huff, fearlessly willing to run crossing patterns against bad-intentioned cornerbacks and safeties.
“You don’t get this far without being a fighter,” Engram said. “I’ve been in this league 13 years now, and I don’t feel like I really have anything I have to prove