T.J. Houshmandzadeh sat on stage in the auditorium at Seahawks headquarters, about to be introduced as the team’s $40 million man. ¶ It was the kind of moment he’d spent more than a decade working for. But none of those years had prepared him for the situation because he didn’t quite know what it was like to feel coveted. ¶ Not like this, anyway.
Seahawks president Tim Ruskell sat on his right, coach Jim Mora on his left, and they introduced their free-agent prize who had been the premier wide receiver available. Houshmandzadeh looked out at a crowd that included reporters, half a dozen television cameras and at least 50 employees, and he found himself searching for words.
“First of all, it’s good to see that all of y’all came out here just to see me,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I don’t understand why.”
Introductions have never been this auspicious. Not for Houshmandzadeh.
He’s more accustomed to being an afterthought, overlooked and underestimated. He left high school without a diploma and headed to junior college. He entered the NFL as a seventh-round pick, spent his first three seasons in Cincinnati and was so buried on the Bengals’ bench he wanted to be traded.
He’s not used to being given anything, but during the past four seasons no receiver has caught more passes than Houshmandzadeh. No receiver was more coveted on the free-agent market than Houshmandzadeh, and no one has waited longer, or worked harder, to reach this point than him.
So now that Houshmandzadeh is here in Seattle, the marquee offseason addition, what title would he give his path from poverty in Southern California to riches in the upper left corner of the country?
“The unbelievable journey,” he said.