Fred Anderson is Torn Between Seahawks & Steelers
February 4, 2006
Fred Anderson was strictly a defensive lineman in his day, someone who chased down quarterbacks and running backs for a living, a guy bent on getting off the block and making the tackle.
For Sunday’s Super Bowl XL, he’ll be a two-way player. Anderson, 51, will be rooting for the Seahawks – and the Steelers. He’s one of a handful of guys who have played for both teams (John L. Williams, Willie Williams, Levon Kirkland, Franco Harris, Chad Brown and the late Dave Brown are among others), but remains the only one with a Northwest address.
He was with Seattle for the 1980, ’81 and ’82 seasons as a part-time starter, splitting time with Bill Gregory at defensive end, especially when an opposing quarterback such as Dan Fouts would try to pass the Seahawks silly and leaves tongues hanging out. Anderson spent the ’78 and ’79 seasons in Pittsburgh, backing up L.C. Greenwood and playing special teams.
He has a couple of diamond-filled Super Bowl rings to show for it. He’ll be in Detroit for the game Sunday. Considering his NFL playing connections, he might have more party invitations than most attendees. “It would be nice to get around to functions for both sides, to see the Rooneys and congratulate everyone,” Anderson said. “I just wish this Super Bowl was in a warm climate.”
These days, Anderson lives in Kirkland and owns a construction company, based in Mountlake Terrace. His wife of 30 years, Darla, is a fourth-grade teacher. They have three children, Tanisha, 26, Quailen, 22, and Calvin, 18. The latter two are Southern University baseball players, both first basemen and extra large like their dad.
Anderson grew up in the Yakima Valley, leaving Toppenish High for Oregon State, where he was a three-year starter but did not finish his career. After Beavers long-time coach Dee Andros was forced to retire, the defensive lineman wasn’t enamored with the replacement, Craig Fertig, and transferred to Prairie View A&M for his senior year. In 1978, he signed as a free agent with the Steelers, made the team and ended his rookie season in Super Bowl XIII in Miami, sharing in a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at the Orange Bowl.
“It was a football player’s dream,” Anderson said. “Guys play whole pro careers, and don’t get a chance to sniff it. I never thought I’d get that lucky to be on a team like that.” He was on the Pittsburgh kickoff unit and got a few licks on Cowboys’ superstar Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson. He was on the sideline when the outcome was certain, saw an excitable Terry Bradshaw running off the field and ran out and caught the Steelers quarterback in a leaping victory embrace.
Anderson had to enjoy the good times while he could. He broke his hand three times as a pro player, the first mishap coming in training camp while preparing for the following season. Surgery resulted, sending him to injured reserve and preventing him from playing in Super Bowl XIV, a 31-19 Steelers victory over the Los Angeles Rams. He still got a full playoff share and a ring. He fractured his hand in his next camp, too, was let go by Pittsburgh, played a couple of exhibition games for Cincinnati and finally landed in Seattle for 22 games, starting six times. Anderson next played two seasons for the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions, a fun and financially profitable time for him, though weird from a football seasonal standpoint.
“Playing in Tampa in June was not fun,” he said. “It was so hot, I remember going on the field and it was 130 degrees. You almost needed a fire truck out there to hose us down. Then we went up to Denver in May, and we had snow flurries.”
It’s been a couple of decades since he pulled on a helmet and pads, but Anderson doesn’t go anywhere without wearing one of his Super Bowl rings. The first one is practically as big as a wristwatch. The second is smaller, yet has four huge diamonds on it representing each of the Steelers’ Super Bowl victories. “I trade them off,” he said. “I wear one ring a couple of months, switch off and wear the other one.”
Anderson will treat his teams in a similar manner Sunday.