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Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Hawks Q&A: Faith in self, family support guide Wunsch

By Greg Bishop
Seattle Times staff reporter

Jerry Wunsch
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KIRKLAND — After the second time the Seahawks released Jerry Wunsch this year, he stayed at home on a Saturday when his two young children assumed he was traveling with the team to Arizona.

Seeing his dad on the couch, 4-year-old Collin succinctly summed up the situation.

"Daddy," he asked, "did you get fired again?"

Indeed. Wunsch has spent this season as the Seahawks' personnel yo-yo. Let him go, keep him close and pull him back. He takes up a good portion of the team's transactions list: released (Sept. 11), re-signed (Oct. 13), released (Oct. 23), re-signed (Oct. 25).

And when All Pro guard Steve Hutchinson missed part of Sunday's victory against Carolina with an ankle injury, a recently re-signed Wunsch found himself on the field, playing so much center Robbie Tobeck could hear heavy breathing to his left.

"Daddy," Collin exclaimed afterward, "you didn't get fired again!"

"To be thrust in there, that's a great example when I talk to the team," coach Mike Holmgren said. "They think it's all coach-talk. Well, boom. Steve gets hurt. Jerry, go in. He did fine. In fact, he did very well."

In the following conversation, Wunsch talks about training after being cut, what he held on to and what he thinks he proved Sunday.

Seattle Times: What have the last few weeks been like?
Jerry Wunsch: It has been tough. Any time you get fired, it's not a fun thing. Trust me. Anybody who's ever been fired understands that, whether you understand the circumstances or not.

ST: What did you do during your 'time off'?

JW: My ankle wasn't 100 percent, so they released me. I hurt it in the Green Bay (preseason) game. I just kept on working out, surrounded myself with people that believed in me. I went over to G2 sports in Northgate. I went there every day, got up at 9 in the morning, and by the time I got done with everything, it was like 5 at night. I tried to make it like a regular workday that I would have in the NFL. My wife understood. My family understood. Without them, I couldn't have got it done to be able to step in (Sunday) and play.

ST: This is your eighth season in the NFL. Did you consider retiring?

JW: I knew I could play. I had no doubt in my mind I could play. I hoped it was here (in Seattle). I'm in a situation where we have a lot of good offensive linemen here, and we have a good offensive line. Things happen. All you can control in life is the things you can control. If I got an opportunity, I was going to take advantage of it.

ST: You injured your ankle last season and missed some games. Then another ankle injury this season. Then the whole release re-sign deal. What did you hold onto?

JW: All you have is your faith in yourself and your belief in yourself. Follow what you feel in your heart and in your gut. Believe in that. Stand up for it. It would have been really easy to not have worked out every day or said, 'Well, I'm not on a team, so I can do that tomorrow.' It helped drive me even more, to be better, do better and work harder.

ST: That sounds like it's easier said than done.

JW: I just focus on what I can control. The thing is, I went out and showed that I can still play. That's what I wanted to accomplish. And anything beyond that, it's out of my control. This is a business. A lot of times people forget when they say it's just a game. For us, it's our livelihood, it's how we put food on the table and it's our pride, something that we've worked since high school to try and achieve. I'm not anywhere near ready to give that up yet. I worked too damn hard to.

ST: Do you feel like your patience was rewarded?

JW: If you're in a situation where you have a feeling, in your gut, then if you follow it, patience is a good thing. If you don't have that feeling, or if it doesn't feel right, there's nothing to be patient about. I know a lot of guys where it wasn't in their heart anymore. If I ever get that feeling, then that will be it. But until I get that feeling, I'm going to keep on keeping on.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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