Seahawk tackle Russell Okung’s offseason training: Spain’s running of the bulls
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn’t crazy about the idea when left tackle Russell Okung told him he planned to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, during the offseason.
Seattle Times staff reporter
But before Seattle’s starting left tackle departed for Pamplona, Spain, and decided to participate in the annual running of the bulls, Okung felt he’d better let Carroll know of his plans.
“It didn’t go too well,” Okung said with a smile Friday, recalling the conversation with Carroll. “But the thing they knew about me is that I would be safe, and really as much as I could do the right thing.”
Okung’s presence at Seattle’s practice Friday was evidence that he survived to tell the tale, even if the event has reportedly killed 15 people in the last century.
“I like hearing that he made it,’’ Carroll said this week. “I did ask him: ‘Did you really run with the bulls? Did you run alongside of them?’ I think he might have been running alongside the last bull, though.”
Okung insisted he was right in the middle of the action, though he acknowledged the event is just as chaotic as it looks from afar.
“It’s like 900 yards and, man, all I know is you have a plan and it goes straight out the window,’’ he said. “It felt a lot like a game. It’s third-and-long, and the game is on the line and you’ve really got to do your job. That’s how it felt, except you are really running for your life.’’
Okung, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2010, is due to make more than $7 million this season, and putting all of that at risk might raise a few eyebrows (among those participating with Okung, however, was his agent, Peter Schaffer).
Okung, though, doesn’t see being a professional athlete as a reason not to indulge in some of the same memory-of-a-lifetime adventures as anyone else his age.
“I think it’s extremely important,” Okung said. “We are young guys and we’ve got a whole life ahead of us to really enjoy the experience that life has to offer. So, you know, why not?”
Okung said the run wasn’t really by design.
“I originally just wanted to go so Spain, and I’m looking at stuff to do, and all of the sudden I see this guy getting gored by a bull,’’ he said, breaking into a smile. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do.’ ”
Not that he necessarily knew what he was getting himself into.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound lineman might be used to scouring film of his opponents, but said he had little desire to scout the bulls.
“I didn’t really want to talk myself out of it,” he said. “Just kind of went there and did it, and it was great.”
Even if his efforts to save some memories of the run were foiled. He intended to wear a camera to film it, but that’s not allowed by race organizers.
He said his group was initially tossed out because of the camera, so he threw it away and jumped over the fence and rejoined the race.
Now he’s rejoined a more familiar race, attempting to help the Seahawks make a serious run at the Super Bowl.
Okung was voted a starter in the Pro Bowl in 2012, his third season in the league, and played in all but one game of the season after having battled a slew of nagging injuries in his first two years.
Okung says he doesn’t feel he proved anything in 2012, nor necessarily felt he had anything to prove after 2010 and 2011. Like the running of the bulls, he says each season is its own adventure.
“All that’s in the past,” he said. “Even last year is in the past. I’m just looking forward to having a great camp and going into having a great season.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.