Remembering George Hickman: Tuskegee Airman, 12th Man

George Hickman

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. And though the nationally-observed holiday originally honored those that died in combat during the Civil War, the honor has extended to all who died in military service to the United States Armed Forces.

That being said, because George Hickman was fortunate enough to have survived World War II, he is not typically one of those we’re “supposed” to remember on Memorial Day. His passing came many years after his military service as a pioneer in the all-black 99th Air Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen. It came whilst under the employ of  the 12th Man and the Seattle Seahawks. And this is why my thoughts are drawn to this unassuming war hero on this Memorial Day – a serviceman who was with us just a year ago.

Hickman came to us at the Seattle Seahawks, as he did with the University of Washington, as a game day usher four decades ago while we were but an infant franchise at the Kingdome. He stood his post at the entrance of our press box where he greeted visitors and staff up until his passing on August 20, 2012. His final game with the Seahawks saw the return of Matt Hasselbeck when we hosted the Titans in the first preseason game of 2012 on August 11.

Emily Heffter of the Seattle Times gave this obituary in his memory.

His photo still hangs framed on the press box wall near the entrance to the office many of us call our Sunday home.  If you ever find yourself in the Gary Wright Press Box, don’t forget to say hello on  your way in – just like Hickman did, with a humble smile and a firm-but-kind handshake, every football game day.

Back on November 13, 2011, Hickman raised the 12th Man Flag at CenturyLink Field before the Military Appreciation game against the Ravens. In his interview, he described the experience as “heaven on earth.” Today, it is us on earth raising a flag for you in heaven, George. Along with countless others who served our country and are no longer with us – today is your Memorial Day.


Tuesday cyber surfing: Which QB will it be at KC?

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, August 21.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times remembers long-time Seahawks and University of Washington athletics usher George Hickman, who passed away over the weekend at age 88, “George Hickman was kind, compassionate, feisty, thoughtful, but most of all he was genuine. He experienced so many thrilling moments late in his life, and all of us felt as if we shared in his good fortune.”

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times speculates on whether or not rookie quarterback Russell Wilson will start this week’s preseason game against Kansas City, “Carroll has been very tight-lipped about the process, declining to say after Saturday’s exhibition game in Denver and again on his weekly radio appearance on ESPN 710 Seattle if Wilson will start this week. But that might change Tuesday, as there were multiple indications that Wilson will start at Kansas City on Friday, which would be considered a sharp change of direction given that Matt Flynn started the first two exhibition games.”

O’Neil also has a couple of notes after the Seahawks traded veteran linebacker Barrett Ruud to the New Orleans Saints late yesterday, “The move nets Seattle what the Saints termed an undisclosed draft pick in their announcement of the deal. It also reflects the Seahawks’ confidence in rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner. New Orleans had a need at linebacker after Hawthorne underwent knee surgery this week to repair a damaged meniscus. The Saints’ Curtis Lofton is sidelined with a high ankle sprain.”

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says Pete Carroll’s quarterback decision this week could define the early part of the Seahawks’ season, “If it’s an open competition, then Carroll should be intrigued enough with Wilson to want more information about him, and seeing him against Kansas City’s starting defense is a must. But if he’s leaning heavily toward Flynn based on practices and two preseason games, then now is the time to stop trying to push Flynn and start getting him ready for Week 1 against Arizona. I’m fine with whatever Carroll chooses. I’ve already written that he deserves some trust. But if you can’t see that this quarterback battle is odd, then you’re not being honest. Fortunately, the urgency of this week dictates that we’ll receive some clarity, probably on Tuesday.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his take on the Seahawks’ trade of Ruud to the Saints, “Ruud became expendable after the Seahawks drafted Bobby Wagner in the second round, and the rookie from Utah State performed well as Seattle’s starting middle linebacker in the team’s first two exhibition games. The Saints are looking to increase depth at middle linebacker after projected starter Curtis Lofton suffered a high ankle sprain. Former Seahawks stalwart David Hawthorne, projected as New Orleans’ starting weakside linebacker, also had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.”

Brady Henderson of recaps a segment of “Brock and Salk”in which head coach Pete Carroll joined the show, and says quarterback Matt Flynn’s performance Saturday night at Denver was better than it looked, “Flynn played the first half and finished 6 of 13 for 31 yards. Carroll was pleased with the effort considering the two would-be touchdown passes and the pressure Flynn was under from Denver’s defense. ‘He had two touchdown-opportunity throws that were there, and I think he was 6 for 13, so that makes him 8 for 13 with two touchdowns in the first half. That would have been a fantastic start,’ Carroll said. ‘So we have to be very clear-minded and not emotional and work our way through the film, and we did, and I think he did a nice job under the circumstances. There were a couple opportunities in there that he would like to have back – that’s how that goes. I think he played a solid game and we would have loved to cash in on those two touchdowns.’ ”

Mike Sando of takes a look at the number of snaps Seattle’s preseason quarterbacks – Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson – have taken in comparison to other potential starting quarterbacks around the NFC West, “Seattle’s two candidates, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson, have taken far more snaps than their peers in the division. Flynn has played full first halves, giving him snaps with the first-team offense. Wilson could get that opportunity when the Seahawks face Kansas City on Friday night, although coach Pete Carroll hasn’t made an announcement yet.  NFL teams have traditionally used the third preseason game to get their starters extended playing time for the regular season. Priorities can change for teams without starting quarterbacks in place.”

Sando also revisits a few under-the-radar moves the Seahawks have made, including a look at the added depth along the offensive line, “3. Churning the OL depth. Adding veteran Deuce Lutui in free agency is paying off now that starting left guard John Moffitt is recovering from elbow surgery. Late-round choice J.R. Sweezy is making a surprisingly quickly transition from defensive line to guard. It remains to be seen whether Alex Barron provides value as a swing tackle. Overall, though, the Seahawks appear to have done the right thing by churning the line depth. The situation with Gallery comes to mind especially.”

Bucky Brooks of believes the Seahawks’ quarterback battle might be closer than most people think, “It will be hard to bypass Flynn as the starting quarterback, considering his solid play throughout the preseason and the hefty financial investment Seattle made in him. Flynn was recruited to be the franchise quarterback and hasn’t done anything to disappoint thus far. However, Wilson appears to have special skills at the position, and his ability to thrive as a dual threat could be problematic for opponents in the regular season. I expect Flynn to get the first crack at the job when the regular season opens, but if the marquee free agent struggles at any point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wilson get the call.”

Here at Clare Farnsworth tells us what worked and what needs work in Saturday night’s preseason game at Denver in his Monday Metatarsal Musings, and also has a look at one pass that wasn’t caught Saturday night, “Terrell Owens, who had practiced with the Seahawks for the first time only 11 days earlier and had not played in the league since 2010, was a step behind Broncos cornerback Chris Harris as he neared the north end zone. Matt Flynn, making his second start in as many preseason games, threw what might have been his best pass since signing with the Seahawks in free agency in March. But instead of a touchdown 46-yard catch, the ball eluded Owens’ grasp and fell incomplete. With the catch, Flynn would have finished with seven completions in 13 attempts for 77 yards – rather than 31 on 6-of-13 passing. With the catch, Owens would have had one big reception in the five times he was targeted by Flynn. With the catch, the No. 1 offense would have scored its first touchdown of the preseason. With the catch, coach Pete Carroll could have stepped to the podium after the game and discussed the progress that had been made by that No. 1 offense’s passing game in the team’s second preseason game; and the remarkable next step in Owens’ return to the NFL. Instead, Carroll was left to say, “It’s the first big ball he had thrown to him in a long time, and unfortunately it got away from him. That would have been a really big event for us to score on that play in the first half; I think it would have made a difference in how that first half would have gone. ‘It’s unfortunate. But he’s got to get back in action. It’s his first time out there. He’s been very much on point in practice and he’s worked very hard – and he’s caught a lot of deep balls in practice, too. So I know he can make those plays for us. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get it right off the bat. I wish for him, and for everybody, we would have caught that thing.’ ”

Farnsworth also looks at the four Seahawks who were selected in Matt Williamson’s Top 200 players in the NFL, “Matt Williamson has released his annual list of the Top 200 players in the NFL at and the Seahawks are represented by four players: defensive end Chris Clemons (No. 105), free safety Earl Thomas (No. 120), running back Marshawn Lynch (No. 131) and defensive end Red Bryant (No. 194).”

Lastly, Farnsworth recaps quarterback Russell Wilson’s impressive stat line through two preseason games, and also has a note on the Seahawks’ impressive team statistics, “As a team, the Seahawks lead the NFL in rushing defense after two games and are third in rushing offense, after running for 228 yards against the Broncos on Saturday night.”

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Remembering George

The Seahawks have lost a member of their extended family.

George Hickman, a press box greeter on game days at CenturyLink Field, Husky Stadium and former member of the Tuskegee Airman, died Sunday. He was 88.

Hickman raised the 12th Man flag prior to kickoff for the Seahawks’ game against the Ravens last November, and the moment is captured in a photo that hangs on the wall where Hickman stood on game days since the stadium opened in 2002.

He was always quick with a handshake and a smile to those entering the press box and when asked how he was doing, Hickman’s would answer, “Blessed to be here.”

Dave Boling at the New Tribune did a column on Hickman, and his memorable life, to commemorate him raising the 12th Man flag.

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