Free-agent madeness: Porter vs. Johnson

Yesterday: The clichéd headline during Dave Krieg’s early tenure as Seahawks quarterback featured some variation of the Blitz-Krieg play on the war term that included his last name.

It also was fitting in his first-round matchup against safety Jordan Babineaux, the winner of a play-in “game” against tight end Mike Tice. Krieg blitzed Babineaux, collecting 79 percent of the 1,860 votes. That left Babineaux with 21 percent, or 399 votes – almost 1,500 fewer than Krieg.

One Facebook comment suggested Krieg be penciled into the final – now. We’ll see how that goes.

Today: Rufus Porter vs. Norm Johnson.

This one is a matchup of the highest-scoring kicker in franchise history against a player who was a kick – to watch and to interview.

Johnson came to the Seahawks just after the 1982 draft, and just in time for the players’ strike that erased eight games (Weeks 3-10). When the strike ended, the talented kicker from UCLA came close to booting himself off the roster by missing three field goals in the first game back – from 37, 41 and 23 yards.

But Johnson not only bounced back, before he was done he had scored more points (810) than anyone in club history – not just the kickers. More than Shaun Alexander (672). More than Steve Largent (608). Almost 250 more than the next-highest kicker (Josh Brown, 571).

In nine seasons, Johnson set franchise record for field goals (159), field-goal attempts (228), PATs (333) and PAT attempts (338).

Numbers also were a big part of Porter’s story – starting with the fact that the linebacker from Southern was among the last of the 105 players signed to the training-camp roster in 1988. It was a fact initially lost on Porter. But a few years later, while being interviewed for a story on the new 80-man roster limit, Porter thought for a second before offering, “If they had the rule in 1988, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

It would have the team’s loss, as well as his. Porter made his first mark on special team, leading the club with 16 coverage tackles as a rookie and 13 in 1989 while being voted to Pro Bowl each season. In 1989, coach Chuck Knox began using Porter as a pass-rushing end in the nickel defense and he responded with a team-leading 10½ sacks. In 1990, Porter cracked the lineup as a starting linebacker. In 1991, he added 10 more sacks and 85 tackles. In ’92, No. 97 collected 90 tackles and 9½ sacks.

His 37½ career sacks rank No. 7 on the club’s all-time list and the 312 wrong-way yards they generated are tied for No. 5.

Porter also coined a new category for the NFL’s injury-status report. Asked once at midweek how he would label himself for that week’s game, the injured Porter asked, “What do you mean?”

Told that the official designations were doubtful, questionable and probable, Porter said, “Playful. Put me down for playful. I’m going to play.” And he did.

Tomorrow: Mack Strong vs. Joe Nash


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