- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2008

Two of Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn’s daughters, Dani and Sarah, and his son, Isaac, occupy the top floor of his home in Mercer Island, Wash., near Seattle. In the basement are Kramer and Kelly Largent, sons of Zorn’s best friend and former Seahawks teammate, Steve Largent.

Isaac is 13 and the others are in their 20s, creating a scenario fraught with real comedy potential - “Friends II,” maybe, or a new version of “Upstairs, Downstairs” or something Seinfeldian (especially with a Kramer). “It’s hilarious, really,” Zorn said.

But wait, it gets even funnier. There’s a dog, plus a gecko and frog that dine on a chirping supply of crickets.

How about “Animal House,” in more ways than one? “They feel like they’re in the Greek system,” said Joy Zorn, Jim’s wife. “They feel like they’ve got a fraternity and sorority all in one place.”

With training camp a month away, Joy and Jim are there, too, presiding over the scene and figuring out what to take back to their home in Northern Virginia. They are moving east in stages. Things have been a little hectic since Zorn ascended from the Seahawks’ quarterback coach to Redskins offensive coordinator to Joe Gibbs’ successor as coach in February.

Only an unusually solid friendship between families could facilitate such an unusual living arrangement. Steve Largent and Jim Zorn have remained close for more than 30 years, a special relationship generally uncommon among ex-teammates in any sport. Zorn, a left-handed quarterback, and Largent, a smallish wide receiver, met in 1976 as members of the expansion Seahawks and immediately hit it off.

“We were determined to make something of ourselves and the Seattle Seahawks,” Zorn said. “When practice was over, that wasn’t enough. We would not allow ourselves, as athletes, to be satisfied with being mediocre.”

Both were free agents cut by other teams, but they soon would become the twin faces of a new franchise and, eventually, one of the most prolific passing combinations in NFL history. Even after Zorn’s release in 1985, their names remain linked in Seahawks lore.

With their playing careers long finished, Zorn, 55, and Largent, 53, also stayed connected. They forged an ironclad bond that endured in spite of distance and disparate career paths (coaching for Zorn, politics for Largent).

“My relationship with Jim is unique almost beyond the borders of football, and it’s something I really treasure,” Largent said.

They roomed together on the road for nine years, playing goofy games like “1-2,” in which one would try to guess how many fingers the others was hiding (no cheating allowed). Absent a remote control, the loser had to sit by the television and change channels.

Citing their strong Christian beliefs, they defied a players strike. Largent, who got married before he met Zorn, was best man at Zorn’s wedding. Zorn attended Largent’s Hall of Fame induction. Largent, known for his sure hands and precise route-running, led the NFL in career receptions, yards and touchdown catches when he retired in 1989 and became the first player selected to the team’s Ring of Honor. Zorn was the second. Each has four children, but Zorn is one up on Largent in the grandchild department.

Their families have taken frequent vacations together and laughed and cried together, such as when Kramer Largent was born in 1985 with spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the development of the spinal cord.

“Jim did what a friend does,” Joy said. “Listen and be there.”

When Zorn was out of a job after a staff shakeup at the University of Minnesota, one of his many coaching stops, Largent told his pal to use the time to earn his college degree. Zorn did it, taking 22 credit hours in a single semester. As a congressman from Oklahoma, Largent invited Zorn to the District. Famous politicians, big names in their own right, were thrilled to meet a football star.

Story Continues →