Thursday, February 2, 2006
DETROIT, Feb. 1 -- Detroit native Larry Foote, a linebacker with the Steelers, is sharing this Super Bowl experience with a family member in a way that never seemed imaginable a few years ago. Foote, 25, did not know he had a son, Trey-veion, until prior to the 2004 season, when he was 8 years old. Now they are back in their home town awaiting the biggest weekend of their lives together.
Foote found out about Trey-veion when a friend called in August 2004 to tell him a former high school girlfriend was claiming the child belonged to the NFL player. His friend had "looked at the kid, and he looked just like me," Foote said. "But my head was just spinning. I was anxious. I was curious, just like anybody would" be.
The first time the father and son met, there was no denying their likeness. A blood test confirmed their relationship, and after Foote gained custody of his son, they have been living together for about two years.
Instantly, Foote's life changed, and he is savoring every moment. Fatherhood brought a new perspective and hastened the player's maturity. "It definitely helped my career, with me being more focused," Foote said. "And physically, I've got to be home at night. I can't be out. There's so much joy and peace."
The adjustment was predictably difficult at first, as Foote learned to let down his guard, embrace and hug his son, and try to build a bond after eight years of never knowing each other existed.
Foote called his father, Larry Foote Sr., for guidance and support.
"I had to talk to my father, taking a lot of advice from people," Foote said, "and they just told me to let it flow. But time went on, and we're getting much closer."
Trey-veion's size and ability astound his father -- he is 5 feet 3 -- and he's debating whether to concede to his son's wish for some "bling-bling" for his birthday.
Foote plans to coach football in a public high school in Detroit when his playing days are over -- he is 18 credits short of a college degree in physical education -- and can see glimpses of himself when he watches his son play football, linebacker to be specific. "Oh, he's competitive like me," Foote said.
There were some complications along the way. Foote was engaged at the time he learned he had a son, and it ended up being a deal-breaker.
"It was a sticky situation," Foote said. "I'm not engaged anymore."Seahawks Staying Intact
The Seahawks entered last offseason with 16 players eligible for unrestricted free agency, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, tailback Shaun Alexander and left tackle Walter Jones. But they kept the nucleus of their offense intact by re-signing Hasselbeck and Jones to long-term deals and using their franchise tag to retain Alexander.
Coach Mike Holmgren credits Mike Reinfeldt, who had returned to the team's front office as a consultant to do the Hasselbeck and Jones deals and later was named the club's vice president of football administration.
"It was a tense situation for a while," Holmgren said. . . .
The league announced Sunday's officiating crew. Bill Leavy, an 11-year NFL veteran with eight games of postseason experience, will work his first Super Bowl as a referee. He previously was a back judge in a Super Bowl.
The crew consists of the highest-rated officials at each position this season, provided they meet prescribed experience minimums.
The rest of the crew consists of umpire Garth DeFelice, head linesman Mark Hittner, line judge Mark Perlman, field judge Steve Zimmer, side judge Tom Hill and back judge Bob Waggoner.Injury Updates
The teams released their initial injury reports Wednesday. Seattle called cornerback Andre Dyson (quadricep) probable, after he did not participate in their 11-on-11 drills at practice. The Steelers listed defensive end Travis Kirschke (groin) and running back Dan Kreider (knee) as questionable, and neither practiced Wednesday, while linebacker James Harrison (ankle) is probable.
-- Jason La Canfora, Mark Maske and Wire Services