New head coach. New coordinators. New site for training camp. Several new players. Renewed outlook for the new season. New job for yours truly.
But some things never change – like the T-shirt I wore Thursday night to final practice at Seahawks training camp. This was my 31st training camp, and for the past 12 summers the Blonde’s Pizza tie-die T has been the unofficial symbol to celebrate the final practice.
This shirt tale started in 1998, when training camp was held in Cheney at Eastern Washington University. I decided the final practice deserved a special shirt, so Blondie’s it was. I had bought the T-shirt on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley during the 1997 season, when the Seahawks went to Oakland to play the Raiders. The tie-dye pattern not only resembles a pizza, it has a pizza on the front that is “sliced” with a peace sign. The message: Make Pizza, Not War.
Spotting the shirt from the field that first summer – actually, the joke was that the shirt could be seen from downtown Spokane – then-special teams coach Pete Rodriguez came over and offered, “I’ve seen some ugly shirts in my day, but that is the ugliest #*@%ing shirt I have ever seen.”
That iced the deal, and a tradition was born. On the last practice of training camp, it’s Blondie’s time.