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Steven Michael "Steve" Largent (born September 28, 1954, Tulsa, Oklahomamarker) is a retired American football player, enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker, and a former U.S. Congressman, having served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Oklahomamarker from 1994 until 2002. He made an unsuccessful run for Governor of Oklahoma in 2002.

Football career

Despite an All-American career at the University of Tulsamarker, Largent was not selected until the fourth round of the 1976 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. After four preseason games, he was slated to be cut, but was instead traded to the expansion Seattle Seahawks for a 1977 eighth-round pick.

Largent spent thirteen years with the Seahawks, and, while not particularly fast, was extremely sure-handed. He was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl seven times, and was the first Seahawk to earn that honor. In 1982, Largent, along with teammate Jim Zorn, ended his participation in the NFL strike, after the 3rd and final week of the strike, citing religious principles, specifically based on Matthew 5:36–37, stating that "your word is your bond" and that all contracts shall be honored as with God.

Largent also provided one of the most jaw-shattering hits in NFL history. In a game during the 1988 season, Denver Broncos Safety Mike Harden intercepted a ball thrown by Seahawks Quarterback Dave Krieg. While returning the interception, Harden took a blindside hit from Largent. The hit was so hard that it caused Harden to fumble the ball, which was recovered by Largent. Largent later said in an interview that the hit was retaliation in part for an illegal hit that Harden gave him in another game earlier in the season which knocked out two of his teeth.

In 1989, Steve Largent became the first Seahawks player to win the Steve Largent Award for his spirit, dedication and integrity.

When Largent retired, he held all major NFL receiving records, including: most receptions in a career (819), most receiving yards in a career (13,089), and most touchdown receptions (100). He was also in possession of a then-record streak of 177 consecutive regular-season games with a reception.

Largent was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker in 1995. In 1999, he was ranked number 46 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the only Seahawk on the list.

His number (80) was retired in 1992; he is the only Seahawk to be so honored (although the team has retired number 12 in honor of the fans, the “twelfth man”). During Jerry Rice's stint with the Seahawks in 2004, Largent's number 80 was temporarily "unretired" after a conversation between Rice and Largent that was reportedly initiated by then Seahawks president Bob Whitsitt. Largent remains the most prolific receiver in team history. On October 26, 2008 Largent's University of Tulsa number (83) was also retired.

Political career

In 1994, Oklahoma's 1st District Congressman Jim Inhofe resigned to run in a special election to succeed Senator David Boren, so the Governor of Oklahoma appointed Largent to the 103rd Congress to fill the vacancy and was subsequently elected to the 104th Congress.

He took office on November 29, 1994 and was reelected to the three succeeding Congresses, never winning less than 60 percent of the vote in the heavily Republican Tulsamarker-based district. He served until his resignation on February 15, 2002 to devote his attention to his gubernatorial campaign. Like many of his colleagues of the Republican freshmen class elected in 1994 — when the Republicans took control of the House for the first time in 40 years — Largent's voting record was very conservative. Largent was one of the "true believers" in that freshman class. He devoted most of his time to issues important to the conservative Christians.

One of his first bills was a "parental rights" bill that died in committee after it attracted opposition even from other Christian conservatives. Another one of his early bills would have abolished the federal tax code at the end of 2001. He opposed ending the 1995 federal government shutdown. Largent introduced a bill that would ban adoptions by gay and lesbian parents in Washington, D.C.marker He was later criticized as anti-Catholic due to his line of questioning of a House of Representatives chaplain in 2000, though he denied this.

Largent himself tried to take advantage of discontent with Majority Leader Dick Armey by challenging Armey for the post. Armey was very unpopular in the Republican caucus, but managed to defeat Largent because Largent wasn't seen as a team player. However, the bruising contest all but ended Armey's chances of becoming Speaker. Largent decided to run for Governor of Oklahoma in 2002. He easily won the Republican nomination and resigned his House seat to devote all his energy to the race. Initially seen as an overwhelming favorite against Democratic state senator Brad Henry, Largent lost to Henry by just under 7,000 votes in the three-way race.

Largent's loss has been attributed by analysts to factors that included:
  • The presence of a well-funded independent (Gary Richardson, a former Republican) on the general election ballot;
  • Henry's support of cockfighting, garnering a last minute endorsement by rural cockfighting interests who turned out in large numbers as the legality of cockfighting was on the ballot;
  • Largent's unfamiliarity with hostile press interviews, as he had been somewhat of a popular local celebrity in Tulsa. This led to a incident (publicized in a Richardson campaign commercial) in which Largent used vulgar language in responding to an Oklahoma Citymarker television reporter who wanted to know where he was at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was later learned that Largent had been on a hunting trip and didn't find out about the events of 9/11 until a day or so later.


Largent became President & CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Associationmarker in 2003. CTIA is an international nonprofit membership organization founded in 1984, representing all sectors of wireless communications – cellular, personal communication services and enhanced specialized mobile radio.

Electoral history

: Results 1994–2000
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1994 Stuart Price 63,753 37% 107,085 63%
1996 57,996 28% Steve Largent 143,415 68% Karla Condray Independent 8,996 4%
1998 Howard Plowman 56,309 38% Steve Largent 91,031 62%
2000 Dan Lowe 58,493 29% Steve Largent 138,528 69% Michael A. Clem Libertarian 2,984 1%

References

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