SEATTLE - Jack Patera, the Seattle Seahawks' original head coach and one of the most important figures in the team's history, has died at age 85. The cause of death was listed as complications from pancreatic cancer.
Patera coached the team starting in its expansion year of 1976, and he and the Seahawks had their first winning season in 1978 with a record of 9-7.
Patera's career win-loss record with the Seahawks was 35-59, and he was fired two games into the 1982 season. But nowadays, as the team has matured into a real contender, 12s have fonder memories of those earlier days when Patera was coach.
Patera, who recently had been living in Cle Elum, treasured fond memories of those early years, too, when he spoke with KOMO News two years ago at a reunion of his former players.
"When we had our first training camp, I had everybody put their name no the front of their helmet so I could know who they were," he laughed.
Patera originally joined the NFL in 1955 as a fourth-round draft pick with the Baltimore Colts. He later played with the Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys before retiring from the field with a knee injury.
After his playing career, Patera spent 1963 to 1975 as an assistant coach and defensive line coach with the New York Giants, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Los Angeles Rams.
Then, in 1976, he was given the chance to coach the expansion Seahawks. He achieved two winning seasons, in 1978 and 1979, with quarterbacks Jim Zorn and Steve Largent, during his seven years as head coach. Patera was named the NFL coach of the year in 1978 when the Seahawks missed the playoffs by one game.
It was to be his only head coaching job in the NFL.
After his retirement in 1982, Patera remained a hard-core Seahawks fan and helped raise the 12th Man flag in 2005 at CenturyLink Field ahead of the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance.