Sometimes a free agent is looking at more than the bottom line. Sometimes he wants to be wooed. Consider the case of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the free-agent receiver from Cincinnati who never felt fully appreciated with the Bengals, even though he’s the only NFL player with at least 90 catches each of the last three seasons. Houshmandzadeh signed with Seattle last week, picking the Seahawks over the Minnesota Vikings. And check out the lengths the Seahawks went — above and beyond a five-year, $40-million contract — to convince him he was their guy. First, they dispatched one of the jets belonging to Seahawks owner Paul Allen, the Microsoft mega-billionaire, to pick up Houshmandzadeh and his wife and kids in Los Angeles and fly them to Seattle. Then, once the family arrived, they hopped on Allen’s seaplane for a tour of the city, including a pass over Qwest Field, where the scoreboard was lighted with a shot of the receiver and his career stats. Also onboard the seaplane were Seahawks Coach Jim Mora, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and a couple of Seattle defensive backs, who, Mora joked, “didn’t want to have to cover T.J. if he went to the Vikings.” After the hourlong tour, the plane swooped down and landed on Lake Washington, directly in front of the Seahawks’ massive new training facility, where Houshmandzadeh got a full-court-press sales pitch about how he would be featured in next season’s offense. This type of free-agent visit — far more elaborate than one for a typical player — is choreographed to the last detail. For instance, one of the Seahawks’ equipment men used to work in Cincinnati, and knew the kind of shoes and gloves that Houshmandzadeh prefers. And there they were, the same brand of shoes and gloves, complete with the lime-green Seahawks detail, positioned just so on a table where Houshmandzadeh couldn’t help but notice them.
Tags: Bengals, Billionaire, Bottom Line, Coach Jim, defensive backs, Free Agent, Full Court Press, Gloves, greg knapp, Jets, Minnesota Vikings, Nfl Player, offensive coordinator, paul allen, Qwest, Scoreboard, Seaplane, T J Houshmandzadeh, three seasons
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