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Originally published January 25, 2012 at 9:44 PM | Page modified January 26, 2012 at 5:42 AM

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Across the Benaroya red carpet, Seattle's sports stars shine

The city's sporting past and present rubbed elbows, shook hands and exchanged jokes at the 77th Sports Star of the Year banquet.

Seattle Times NFL reporter

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The red carpet was more than a metaphor Wednesday night.

It led into Benaroya Hall for Seattle's Sports Star of the Year banquet. While no one was going to mistake this for the Academy Awards, it would take some pretty dark cynicism not to crack a smile and enjoy an evening in which Seattle celebrated its best from the past sporting year.

It's not always easy to do that in a city where the NFL team has suffered four straight losing seasons, the baseball franchise hasn't reached the postseason in a decade and a gaping hole remains where an NBA franchise once stood. But the banquet is a civic tradition now in its 77th year, and it provides a reminder that sports aren't all sorrow in this city.

The incredible still occurs, and some of it happened last year.

Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run in the Seahawks' playoff victory over the Saints was one such moment. So was Sounders FC winning a third consecutive U.S. Open Cup. Yet both of those moments were topped by Eastern Washington winning a national football title as the sports story of the year.

Jason Terry, an alum of Franklin High School, won an NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks. Isaiah Thomas won the Pac-10 tournament with a jump shot that announcer Gus Williams labeled as "cold-blooded." Washington native Hope Solo was the starting goalkeeper on the U.S. Women's National Team, which played for the World Cup Final.

So Seattle took a break from high-wind advisories on Wednesday night, gathered downtown at the home of the city's symphony and let the city's sporting past and present rub elbows, shake hands and exchange jokes.

Detlef Schrempf was recognized for the years of community service with the foundation he and his wife, Mari, formed in 1996. Gary Wright was named the sports executive year for his work in helping launch first the Seattle Seahawks and then Sounders FC. WSU announcer Bob Robertson was honored. So was basketball player Bob Houbregs, who led the Washington Huskies to their only Final Four appearance.

Quarterback Jake Locker, a first-round pick by Tennessee, was there. So was Keith Price, his heir in the Huskies' pocket. New Mariners catcher Jesus Montero was on hand. So was his manager, Eric Wedge, whose mustache, however, remains absent. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik looked sharp in his paisley tie.

Former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien handed out an award. So did former Guns 'N Roses bassist Duff McKagan, who is now a sports columnist and looked every bit the rock star, presenting in a black tank top with tattooed arms.

It was an evening that was quintessentially Seattle, and while this past year fell well short of being unforgettable, it's worth acknowledging that there were plenty of moments to remember.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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About Danny O'Neil

Danny O'Neil will comment on issues, events and personalities in the NFL. His column will appear on Sundays during the regular season. He also posts most days on the Seahawks Blog.
doneil@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2364

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