RENTON — Tom Cable would rather talk about the fraternity of coaches he has long been a part of than the one he joined following the 2010 season.
That’s because Cable, now the Seahawks’ assistant head coach and offensive line coach, would much rather be defined by the fact that he is part of
a long lineage of successful coaches from Snohomish County, and not by the fact that in January he became part of the not-so-exclusive group of head coaches let go by Al Davis, the controversial owner Oakland Raiders.
Cable, who took over as Oakland’s head coach during the 2008 season, led t
he Raiders to an 8-8 season last year — their first season with more than five victories since 2002 — but that wasn’t enough for him to keep his job. And when he began to weigh his options, one job opportunity was too good to pass up.
“It’s really a blessing in so many ways,” said Cable, who graduated from Snohomish High School in 1982. “I’m back where I grew up … It’s fun to be a part of this. I used to go to games at the Kingdome, and saw all the great players from Steve Largent to Jim Zorn all the way up to Jacob Green. It’s fun to be here. I’m going check out a Snohomish High game this fall. The chance to see my mother more often is a pretty neat deal. It’s been a real blessing, it really has.”
But as good as it is to be back home, Cable said the job itself had more to do with his decision to join Pete Carroll’s coaching staff than did the chance to return home. When the Raiders beat the Seahawks last season, Cable liked what he saw out of Carroll’s team, and when he needed a job, he liked the idea of joining forces with Carroll. That said job happened to be just down the road from his home town was just a huge added bonus.
“The appeal was this organization, the coaching staff,” he said. “… It was about the job first, then you sit down when it became a reality that this could happen, that hey, I get to go home too, that makes it real cool.”
“From my experience in Oakland, I was really looking forward to a positive environment that would give us a chance to be around success and successful people.”
Cable is around successful people now in large part because of the successful people that shaped him as a coach. Playing for Snohomish head coach Dick Armstrong and assistant coach Keith Gilbertson Sr., Cable knew he wanted to be a coach long before his playing career was over.
“As a little boy I wanted to coach,” he said. “There was something to people like Dick Armstrong and Keith Gilbertson. To have an effect in the right way on people’s lives I thought was really a powerful thing and very important to me. I just thought if I could help young people like they helped me, then that’s a good life. That’s a life worthy of saying, ‘Hey you did it right, you did it to the fullest.'”
After graduating from Snohomish, Cable played for a pair of local coaches at the University of Idaho, Dennis Erickson and Keith Gilbertson Jr. Cable then launched his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Idaho, and also by helping out as an assistant at Snohomish.
Ed Lucero, the Panthers’ current offensive line coach who has been around long enough to have coached Cable in high school, remembers being impressed with the aspiring young coach.
“There are certain people, when they’re coaching, they have this approach to teaching the game to people, and he really has that,” Lucero said. “He has that more than anyone I’ve been around. He has a way of getting it across — he could be a wrestling coach or a track coach — he has that acumen about him.”
Cable has since passed on lessons he has learned as a coach to Lucero, particularly about pass blocking, something Lucero admits the run-happy Panthers haven’t had to do a lot of historically. Conversely Cable tells Lucero that NFL players are using tricks Lucero taught him in high school, though Lucero downplays those claims, saying it’s just Cable trying to make an old coach feel good about himself.
Even if that is the case, it’s clear Cable has been shaped by his home town and the long list of coaches that come from the area such as Erickson, Armstrong, both Gilbertsons, Jim Lambright and Mike Price.
“When you start stacking up all of those guys you can say you’re a part of something that is really special,” he said. “For someone like me, when you’re young and realize what those guys had done, you say, ‘I want to be like that.’ It gave you something to shoot for, and that’s a real special thing to me.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog