Catching up with David Hughes

David Hughes left his native Hawaii to play college football at Boise State, then became a second-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 1981. When his playing days ended five years later, Hughes, like so many Hawaiians who leave the islands for the mainland, wanted to go back home.

His wife, Holly, did not. She felt that the Northwest was the place for the couple to raise their family. And so it was.

Holly and David agreed on one thing, though: They would raise their children to know and understand the pride and traditions of their Hawaiian culture. Such pride exists in the names of the Hughes' five children — Lahela, 22; Kela, 18; Keoni, 16; Kaniela, 13, and I'okepa, 9.

"Their names mean something," Hughes said, a hint of the Hawaiian pidgin accent in his voice.

As a fullback for the Seahawks, Hughes' play meant a lot to so many in the early 1980s, when the Seahawks began their rise to the most successful era of professional football in Seattle. The organization had taken hold in town, fans packed the Kingdome, and Hughes was a key contributor as a runner, blocker, return man and receiver.

But Hughes was never the typical NFL player. Unlike his peers in college, he never had a desire to play professionally until his junior year at Boise State, when he realized that teams were interested in drafting him.

In Seattle, his world changed. "I have a lot of great memories," the Seahawks' leading rusher in 1984 said. "Moving to another city, meeting people from all over the country. It was a great organization (the Seahawks) with the Nordstroms (as owners) and although I played for three different coaches (Jack Patera, Mike McCormack and Chuck Knox), each year we improved."

Hughes went on to play five games with Pittsburgh, but a knee injury ended his career in 1986, and he decided he wanted to look out for his family rather than risk a comeback. He became active in religious ministry, and in 1994 moved to Eagle, Idaho, to continue with that as well as serve as running-backs coach for Eagle High School, which won a state Class A Division II title in 1998.

The Hughes family came back to the Seattle area in 1999, and lives in Redmond. Hughes oversees missions and evangelism at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, and helps coach the sophomore and junior varsity at Eastlake High School.

Hughes, 44, has been married 23 years, and follows the Hawks.

"Last week was kind of weird," he said. "I really enjoyed (playing in) Pittsburgh. I've been very blessed to play in two great cities."