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  • Writer's picturePaul L. Schneiderman

Sports Untold 122 Joe Steele

black and white photo of football player joe steele

The University of Washington has been a part of my life since I was born. I grew up in northeast Seattle near the UW campus, and I would see various buildings affiliated with the university on almost every day in my growing up years.

Not only did I attend and graduate from the UW, various family members on both sides of my family are UW graduates, including my parents. In fact, my late grandfather Harry Schneiderman (1906-1990) is a 1928 University of Washington football varsity letterman.

Attending Husky football games was part of my Seattle growing up experience, and it is something that I continue to enjoy doing (although I will comment that UW football, and college football in general, has certainly changed with the night games, the big money pressures, the substantial increase in ticket prices, and in other aspects). Memories of attending games with my late father, grandfathers, and others will always be positives in my memory bank of growing up in Seattle in the 1970s and 1980s.

I make this little introduction here to give some background of how my recent interview with UW football legend Joe Steele has nostalgic and sentimental aspects to the August 2022 discussion. As a young football fan, and I mention this in my interview with Joe, some of my first football memories-literally- involve watching Joe, Warren Moon, and other Husky players play at Husky Stadium in those late 1970s years.

Joe Steele stood out as a powerful running back on the field. I remember seeing Joe in his number 24 running and scoring touchdowns and getting first downs. Joe seemed like he would be a top pro player. When the Seattle Seahawks drafted Joe in 1980, I was excited as a young kid with the prospects of watching Joe play for my favorite NFL team after his UW career concluded.

Joe sustained some injuries, he never played in a regular season NFL game, yet I learned years ago that he went on to have a good career in the real estate industry. It is a nice story about how Joe was able to move on from football, have a family, and establish a very good career in a different industry.

As we fast forward decades after me being a youth watching Joe play at Husky Stadium, it was a pleasure to have the opportunity for Joe Steele to accept my invitation to be a guest on my ‘Sports Untold’ podcast. Although I am not a youngster anymore, there is something about interviewing Joe whereas I still felt like the young kid thinking “Wow, I am talking to Joe Steele.”

My August 2022 discussion with Joe hit on a lot of subjects.

Some of the tidbits of learning about Joe’s family and his growing up years in the Richmond Beach area of North King County are fun stories.

Another aspect of the conversation that is fascinating is hearing Joe’s perspectives about his concerns and frustrations as to how much college football has changed. Joe is old-school where he really does not like the big money aspects of college football, and he is skeptical about college players being paid and getting big bonuses. The transfer portal is also a new change that Joe is not a fan of: there is a lack of commitment to players moving around to different colleges that he does not like.

In regard to some of these issues, I tend to see some of them differently at least from a legal standpoint than Joe does, yet he makes some good practical points, and he certainly has some firsthand experience as a college football player that I do not have. When I asked Joe whether he would support a workers compensation type of program for injured college athletes, Joe communicated that he is open minded on that subject. This subject of how to protect injured college athletes more is something that has now come up on several of my shows.

Another part of my chat with Joe that I found very interesting is the subject of Warren Moon being the first black quarterback at the UW. Joe has a lot of admiration for Warren, and Joe mentions in the interview that Warren was going through some challenges during that time being a junior college transfer from California and coming to the UW and being the starting quarterback.

Joe states that the legendary late Husky coach Don James taught the players to treat everyone with respect, which includes the people serving food in the mess hall. I can tell that Joe continues to adhere to Coach James’s teachings in being kind and respectful to all. This is something that I have noticed in my interactions and interviews with various other players and people who worked with and played under the late Don James.

There is more great information to share in my interview with Joe, listen to the interview and you can hear more!


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