Steve Largent says he doesn't need another plaque honoring him.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer wants the plaque unveiled at Putnam City High School on Thursday to resemble inspiration to current and future Putnam City students.
Maybe they have a difficult home life, or they're struggling with grades — just like Largent was — and the plaque can remind them that those factors don't have to determine future success.
The plaque, which will permanently reside inside the school, was provided by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate to recognize Largent as a “Hometown Hall of Famer.”
“Steve Largent worked at it,” said his high school baseball coach, Larry Guerkink, who presented the plaque during a ceremony in Putnam City's auditorium. “He worked at it as an athlete. He worked at it as a student — not as much here, but later on. He worked hard to achieve success.”
Largent spoke to the student body about his life in high school, coming from a broken home with an alcoholic step-father. His grades were mediocre — “I was lucky to get a ‘B,'” he said — until a counselor told him he needed to go to trade school or get a job when he graduated, because he wouldn't survive in college academically.
That moment inspired him, and he graduated from Tulsa University with better than a 3.0 grade-point average. He went on to play 15 NFL seasons for the Seattle Seahawks with 13,089 receiving yards and 100 touchdowns.
But he points to key moments in his life at Putnam City that pulled him out of difficult situations and pushed him toward greatness.
“As the turmoil at my house erupted, I would turn to my friends and coaches to basically get out of the house, whether it was for football or baseball,” he said. “That was a real refuge for me, to be involved in athletics and feel some camaraderie with your teammates and coaches that you didn't feel at your house.”
The plaque at Putnam City, Largent hopes, won't be looked at as a celebration of his career, but a reminder of what can be accomplished, even out of a bad situation.
“Like I told the kids, I want this to represent a symbol of encouragement and hope about your future,” he said. “Maybe you didn't have the best grades at Putnam City High School. Go on and get better grades and establish yourself in whatever your future will be.
“There are people who weren't straight-A students and have excelled beyond high school and college. This should serve as a beacon of hope. And I hope that it is. That's the reason I came back.”