to grant wishes
Jerry Hermanson and football go together like Jerry Rice and wide receivers.
“I always wanted to be the guy who caught the ball,” said Hermanson, a Bonney Lake resident and former Auburn High tight end.
Now he’s the one with the ball – a custom-made stainless steel football and stand designed by his grandpa and signed by more than 50 National Football League legends, plus a few other dignitaries.
On Dec. 3, Hermanson will receive the longest pass yet when he puts it on the eBay auction block for 10 days, with all proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska, Montana, Northern Idaho and Washington.
Up for grabs is not only the football, but two 50-yard charter section tickets to watch the Dec. 21 New York Jets vs. the Seattle Seahawks, two pregame sideline passes, a 12th-man flag, a gift certificate to F.X. McRory’s and Touch Seahawks apparel designed and autographed by Alyssa Milano are also included.
The 30-year-old Lake Tapps resident first caught the football fever as a child when he watched Steve Largent play as a Seahawk wide receiver and then met him, thanks to his grandpa and creator of the custom football, Jerry Hermanson, Sr.
“My grandpa won a day of golf with Chuck Knox at a Kennedy High auction,” he recalled. “My grandpa’s such a fisherman, so he changed that to a day of fishing with Chuck, himself and (Huskies Coach) Don James.”
When the guys returned to the family’s beach house, it was Jerry Hermanson who made the greatest catch.
“Before they left, Knox said, ‘OK, kid, I got a deal for you – two tickets, best seats in the house for any (Seahawks) game next year or you can come down on the sidelines for any game,’” he said. “Of course, I chose the sidelines – I was eight years old.’”
The two chose the Dec. 8, 1986 game against the Raiders, courtesy of tickets No. 000001 and 000002 – souvenirs he carries with him even today. They not only watched from the sidelines but were invited to watch the coin toss. There, he met Largent, Marcus Allen and Howie Long, he recalled.
“I also got to ride around the Kingdome in the football helmet cart with the Seattle Seagals,” he said. “We almost got ran over by Curt Warner when he ran out of bounds. I ducked behind my grandpa.
That game launched a life-long fascination for Hermanson.
“When I look back, that’s kind of the fun one,” he said. “So many of my memories have involved my grandpa and dad with (fundraising) auctions and games.”
Ten years later, he received the stainless steel football from his grandpa. Then in 2004 he sought Jerry Rice’s autograph after a game.
“Rice is one of the best all-time receivers – plus, the name ‘Jerry…’” he said with a laugh.
He didn’t stop there.
“I always kind of looked at that ball and said, ‘There’s a lot of blank space on it,’” he said.
It was only the beginning. In just four years, that blank space has been filled with names such as Largent, Jim Zorn, Norm Johnson, Curt Warner, Dave Krieg, Cortez Kennedy, Kenny Easley, Jacob Green, Warren Moon, Steve Raible, Shaun Alexander, Tom Flores, Lofa Tatupu, Seneca Wallace, Jordan Babineaux and Mike Holmgren.
Then there’s the original Seahawks coach, Jack Patera; Mike McCormack, former general manager and NFL Hall of Fame member; original offensive coordinator Sam Boghosian and Jim Mora, future head coach.
The list grew, name by name. Like Washington State University’s ‘throwin’ Somoan’ quarterback Jack Thompson, Don James, New York Vinnie, ESPN’s John Clayton and Kenny Mayne, Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson. Add to that Vulcan, Inc.’s Paul Allen and Jody Patton; Ken Behring, who founded the Wheelchair Foundation; his son, former Hawks president Dave Behring and John Nordstrom.
There was still space left for another name: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
As word of his charity project has grown, the names have covered the ball.
“I’ve had to ask people to write small to leave space for others,” he said.
Hermanson said he wasn’t afraid to ask for autographs.
“I’ve never paid for an autograph,” he said. “A lot of it is not being afraid of ‘no’ or rejection.”
There are two more names he hopes to add before the football hits the international auction just one week from today, Wednesday: the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
“Anything else is a bonus,” he said.
The ball will be on display Dec. 7 at F.X. McRory’s in Seattle before the start of the Seahawks vs. New England Patriots game.
Hermanson said although the ball could be kept to pass down to his 9-month-old son, he has no regrets for donating it to charity.
“There will be other things I do for him,” he said. “And what I hope this shows is that in the end, I want to reflect my appreciation for my grandpa and my whole family.”
Besides, his uncle – the owner of a sheet metal shop – is already busy with the newest project.
“It’s a copper basketball,” he said.
And perhaps another chance to help make children’s wishes come true.
For information about Jerry Hermanson’s autographed stainless steel football, visit www.hermie.com.
Reach Judy Halone at email@example.com or 360-802-8210.