Saturday's Legend: Dave Hoffmann

Nov. 24, 2009

By Michael Jeremiah

In the early 1990's, a vicious hit and a kind word were dealt to a number ofopposing ball carriers courtesy of Husky linebacker Dave Hoffmann.Undiscriminating between quarterbacks, receivers or running backs,Hoffmann flew around the field during his five year stint at Washington, makingplays and leaving opponents on their backs, but not without a 'God bless you.'

The two-time All-American linebacker from San Luis Obispo, Calif. came toWashington in 1988. At that time, the Huskies were only a few years removedfrom their Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma, but still looking for the group ofplayers that would push them over the top.

In 1989, the Huskies got that group. The freshman class that year includedHoffmann, Beno Bryant, Steve Emtman, Shane Pahukoa and Lincoln Kennedy.

Those five players were crucial parts to the Huskies continued rise to nationalprominence, capping off their junior year with the National Championship afterWashington's victory over Michigan in the 1992 Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl victory and National Championship are the biggest tangibleaccomplishments of Hoffmann's career, but that's not the most rewarding partof his time as a Husky.

'It was the overall hunt,' said Hoffmann. 'The hunt all the way to the nationalchampionship and the three Rose Bowls that we had - working hard to achieveexcellence and then maintaining it. We didn't go out there just to win; we wentout there to dominate. We were a bunch of guys that loved to battle and lovedthe preparation and hard work that went into it.'

The moment that most Husky fans undoubtedly remember Hoffmann bywasn't a hard hit or interception. When the Huskies travelled to Eugene for animportant conference match up with the Ducks, Hoffmann set the tone for histeammates before the opening kickoff. His own words best describe the scene.

'Down at Oregon, of course they were like [Washington State], there's not alot of love for us. I'm used to everybody hollering at us but these guys weregetting boisterous and they started throwing dog biscuits at us,' said Hoffmann.

'I didn't notice it, but then Jim Lambright picked one up and called us in. Hewas about to give us a talk and I pulled up my helmet, grabbed and startedeating it. One thing I noticed is that the fans there got really quiet.'

While Hoffmann admits it wasn't the best thing he's eaten, it helped the teamget focused and go about their business that day.

Hoffmann's business at Washington was to patrol the middle of the Huskydefense, and there are few who have done it better. His throwback style andnose for the ball made him a contributor throughout his career at Washington,and a star in his final two seasons.

His junior year, Hoffmann was part of the dominating defense that led theHuskies to an undefeated season. Hoffmann built on a solid junior season as asenior in 1991, and was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

His on-field intensity was matched by an extroverted off-the-field personality.After his playing days at Washington, Hoffmann hosted a show with fellow Huskyand close friend James Clifford. 'Hoff and Cloff' would dress up in duck huntinggear and other gags that Husky fans loved.

Unfortunately for his playing career, Hoffmann's health was on the declinewhen he left Washington. He was drafted by Chicago -- also played for the SanFrancisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers -- but an injury and release fromthe 49ers in 1995 forced him to look at life after playing football. A tremendouswork ethic and obvious knowledge of the game seemed to point towardscoaching.

'There's times that I can't deny that I love the game. I think down the roadit might be fun to coach,' said Hoffmann.

Hoffmann chose a career in public service instead. The son and older brotherof clergymen, Hoffmann went to work for the government. Currently based outof Washington D.C, Hoffmann is in his 11th year working as an agent with theUnited States Secret Service.

Based across the country, Hoffmann still is present around the program today.Seattle is still a place he considers home. His wife is from Seattle and hisbrother, former Husky defensive tackle Steve Hoffmann, still lives in the area.

Hoffmann attended spring practice this year and even spoke to the Huskiesabout his career. His connection with the program is helped by the fact thatCoach Steve Sarkisian counts Hoffmann as his favorite Husky of all time. Therespect is mutual.

'I think if I went back 20 years and put myself in the place of a high schoolkid, I would love to have played for a guy like that,' said Hoffmann. 'Every yearthey will get better and better and when they hit the crest, they are going to bethere for a long time.'

The Huskies didn't go to a bowl when Hoffmann was a freshman and thehunger from no postseason spurned him on to great things later in his career.In the same way that devouring a dog biscuit calmed his teammates twodecades ago, Hoffmann points out that all Huskies should be enjoy the ride tothe top with Coach Sarkisian at the helm.

'I think people need to enjoy the hunt of getting there right now,' saidHoffmann. 'They'll be at the top of the pack before too long.'

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