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Tempest-Tossed Trojan Secures Work in Seattle

September 03, 1986|LARRY STEWART | Times Staff Writer

Sean Salisbury, who couldn't hold his job as USC's starting quarterback last season and then was passed over by all 28 NFL teams in last April's draft, made the Seattle Seahawks' 45-man roster Tuesday.

The Seahawks kept three quarterbacks, starter Dave Krieg, veteran backup Gale Gilbert and Salisbury, who was signed as a free agent.

The Seahawks had earlier released Paul McDonald, another former USC quarterback and a one-time starter with the Cleveland Browns, and David Norrie, UCLA's starting quarterback last season who was drafted in the 11th round.

Salisbury finished the exhibition season with 35 completions in 64 attempts, 482 yards passing, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Krieg, meanwhile, completed 30 of 51 for 260 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Gilbert suffered an injury to his left thumb during the first series of a game against the Indianapolis Colts and hasn't played since.

Football fans in the Pacific Northwest, apparently souring on Krieg, view Salisbury as something of a savior. Suddenly, Seattle has a quarterback controversy. Salisbury is getting the cheers, Krieg the boos.

Salisbury, up now, was down a number of times during a five-year career at USC. He missed the final four games of the 1982 season after injurying his right knee at Arizona State, struggled through a 4-6-1 season in 1983, then redshirted the 1984 campaign after going down with another injury to his right knee, again at Arizona State, this time the second game of the season. So he was on the sideline when USC beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, 20-17, on Jan. 1, 1985.

Last season, with four games remaining, Salisbury was benched in favor of redshirt freshman Rodney Peete. Salisbury watched as Peete led the Trojans over UCLA, 17-13, the high point of a 6-6 season.

But Salisbury now is an NFL quarterback. "I'm playing more relaxed and more confident than I ever have," he said Tuesday from Seattle. "I'm not looking over my shoulder, just free flowing and going. The offense here suits me better than USC's. I'm rolling out and throwing on first down, things I didn't do at USC because there we had a power, run-oriented team."

Said Kenny Meyer, Seahawk quarterback coach: "He's been a pleasant surprise. Sean has a strong, quick arm and he's got good body quickness for someone 6-5 and 217 pounds. He moves more like a 195-pounder."

Salisbury said he is not bitter about his experience at USC. "I still give full support to USC. I'm still a Trojan rooter. I talked to Coach (Ted) Tollner on the phone the other day. We had a nice talk. He told me he was proud of me."

By making the Seahawks, Salisbury will make $82,000 this season, and possibly as much as $100,000 if he meets some incentive clauses in his contract. That's not much by NFL standards, but Salisbury isn't complaining. He's just thrilled to still be playing football.

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