Thursday, December 19, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Emmett Watson

If They Won't Let Knox Run Hawks, At Least Let Him Run The State

It is entirely possible - indeed, probable - that the dimwits who run the Seahawks are dumb enough to fire Chuck Knox. The climate is for wailing; the hour is for finger-pointing, the impulse is for scapegoating.

This department sheds no tears for Charles Knox. Once fired, he will be hired by somebody else at a fat salary, and he will lead yet another team out of mediocrity.

But it would be stupid to fire a man like this and, thus, let him out of our city.

Some years ago, I advanced the notion, just half-kidding, that Chuck Knox should be president of the United States. At a local level, he would make a good governor. Not county exec. That would be like hiring a brain surgeon to remove warts.

No, he should be president, I think. Governor at the very least.

Chuck, a man I have never really met, would be a lousy candidate. He could not endure the sophistry, the euphemisms, the slyness, the cant, the insincerity that it takes to win a campaign.

He speaks in homilies that are too often dismissed as cliches.

What he is, basically, is a realist; he cannot abide the oratorical gingerbread trappings that obscure truth. He seeks realism, and truth is realism.

Some years ago, I read his autobiography, a treatise called "Hard Knox." One passage stands out.

"By the time I was 5 years old," he wrote, "I knew about getting conned. I learned that the world is full of phony baloneys who like you only for what you have.

"I can smell a con. I can feel a con. It helps when you are dealing with players who fake injuries and team owners who fake money problems."

A guy like this, I submit only half in jest, should be leading the nation. Or our own state. A guy who will talk about things as they are, not about how we wish them to be.

In his nine years here, has anyone heard Knox complain of bad luck? Has anyone ever heard him hint that the playing field wasn't level, that Divine Providence dealt him a bad hand, that injuries to his players, bad weather, a skewed schedule, or anything else could be blamed for a defeat?

I will be terribly surprised that if, or when, the team's owner, Ken Behring, sends Knox packing, Chuck will so much as murmur a parting shot over his shoulder.

Life is not fair; he knows that, "so you play the hand you're dealt."

If he were president, or governor, there would be no caterwauling from Knox. He would talk to all of us straight. Just as he does with his football players, he would prepare us with straight talk.

He would not mince words. He would tell us what sacrifices we must make in order to win - i.e. survive.

In this fantasy of mine, I'm not sure how a Knoxian game plan would translate into social and political needs. Maybe it would go something like this:

"Suck it up and try harder. Don't spend what you don't have. Get ready for new taxes, because we're going to need them. Let's get the homeless off the streets and into shelters.

"Football players make plays, and citizens can make a difference. We're getting our butts kicked, so let's turn it around. Here are some things we have to do if we expect to win. . . "

The country is in deep trouble right now, up to its ears in debt, unemployment, economic malaise and fear. Fear of the unknown. A leader like Knox would make us face the unknown, learn more about it.

The great writer, John Steinbeck, once wrote a letter to a friend. He said, "I think that most of our difficulties arise from our failure to inspect. The unknown is always more fearful than the known and the rejected is the fiercest of all.

"We don't inspect our bomb, our world. Right here in America we reject thinking of the U.S.S.R. or the Chinese complex and by this means render them frightful."

Many of us in today's world think we have been dealt a bad hand. Maybe we have, but it becomes fatal only if we whine about it and do nothing.

As a leader like Knox would say, it's up to us, or to use one of his favorite maxims: "Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear the words you say."

Emmett Watson's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday in the Northwest section of The Times.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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