The subject is strokes. Except Steve Largent, the ex-Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, isn't asking for any, or giving them away.
In April, he suffered one.
"I went home and was in a daze," recalled Largent, 50, early in his round at Congressional Country Club's Gold Course in Bethesda. "My wife said: 'Where have you been? We've been waiting for dinner.' I said, in very delayed terms, 'I can't explain it.' After dinner, we went to the hospital."
It remains difficult to explain. There were no missed signs, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and he was working out several times a week.
Since the stroke, he has lost at least 15 yards with his short irons, although he can still drive it about 275. He also knows how to scramble. At No. 10, a 493-yard, par 5, after his tee shot nearly found the hazard, he salvaged par with a 60-yard wedge to tap-in range. A 12-handicapper, he finished with a 15-over 86.
Scoring has never been Largent's problem. In 14 seasons (1976-1989), Largent caught 819 passes for 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns. Yet, as much as he loves football, he isn't the type to constantly rehash the past. "A lot of guys leave the game involuntarily," said Largent, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. "I left when I wanted to leave."
Nor does he become overly nostalgic about his second career, which also unfolded in the public eye. A conservative Republican, he was elected four times to the U.S. House of Representatives, giving up his seat during his final term to run for governor of Oklahoma in 2002. Largent, who lost by about 6,500 votes, has wondered if he should have been more aggressive in going after his opponent's record. However, he quickly added, "I just felt there was just too much negative campaigning, and I didn't like that."
These days, he's fully involved in career number three. As president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, Largent lobbies Congress on behalf of the wireless industry and organizes two major trade shows each year.
"I think we're just seeing the beginning of all that will be known as wireless communication," he said.
After retiring from the Seahawks, he thought briefly about trying to get his golf game in decent enough shape to compete on the Celebrity Players Tour. He decided to back off.
"I think I just got a healthier perspective of life and golf," said Largent, who didn't own a set of clubs until he was 21. "I was hyper-competitive when I played football . . . hyper. And I've lost that a little bit."
Obviously, not entirely. About 15 minutes later, after a solid drive at No. 12, a 414-yard par-4, he pushed his approach into the water, leading to his only double bogey of the day. "Golly, I can't believe I did that," said Largent, who hopes to tee it up about 15 times this year. He explains his disappointment with the errant shot: "I still like to play well."
Largent is asked if he would ever make another run for public office. He resorts to the never-say-never cliche. Referring to his service in the House, he said: "I didn't get into Congress for a career. I sort of feel that's the way the founding fathers meant it to be."
As for football, he explored the possibility last year of becoming the general manager in Seattle. The Seahawks, he said, were not interested.
No matter. Largent is quite content. Except for taking a blood thinner and aspirin once a day, Largent, who has experienced temporary memory loss, hasn't made any changes in his lifestyle since the stroke.
"Now I'm going to do what every other golfer does," he joked. "I'm going to blame my irons, and go out and get a new set."