Catching up with Jamal Fountaine: Lure of football proves too great
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jamal Fountaine may be in Portland these days, but he still calls Seattle home.
The former Huskies defensive lineman — and captain of the 1993 team — is now the secondary coach for the Portland State Vikings. Fountaine, however, still owns a house in Seattle, where his wife works. He lives in an apartment during the season and commutes much of the rest of the year.
"It's not easy, but we're making it work," Fountaine said.
But while Fountaine will coach for PSU at Sacramento State tomorrow, he'll be feeling a tug to Seattle as well, where his beloved Huskies will go for their first win of the season, against San Jose State. Fountaine's younger brother, Matt, will be in UW's starting lineup for the first time, replacing the injured Derrick Johnson.
"It's exciting," Fountaine said. "I know he's very excited. He's been working hard to get that spot, and this is a good opportunity for him."
Jamal Fountaine said he did little to persuade Matt to follow in his UW footsteps.
"At first I was kind of hesitant for him to come here," he said. "I kind of wanted him to not be known as 'Little Fountaine,' but just be Matt. But he made that decision on his own. He was always a Husky at heart."
He had little choice, seeing as the Fountaine house in Oakland, Calif., wore a purple-and-gold hue throughout Matt's childhood.
Jamal was lured north in 1989 after meeting what he described as "this regular common dude, grungy guy" on a street corner after being ditched at a party by his recruiting host, Chico Fraley. The guy didn't know who Fountaine was, and Fountaine liked hearing what someone who wasn't trying to sell him on the school and the football team was saying.
"He told me that they were tough no matter how bad the record was," Fountaine said. "They would knock the crap out of you."
Fountaine became a starter for the 1992 and 1993 seasons, then signed with the 49ers as a free agent and was on the roster when San Francisco won the 1995 Super Bowl. He then spent two years with the Atlanta Falcons before injuries waylaid his career.
After his playing days ended, Fountaine entered the construction industry, having majored in business construction at UW. Several years later, he was transferred to Seattle to be a project manager for the construction of the Seahawks' new stadium.
The second summer he was back in town, he was asked to help out at a Huskies football camp. About the same time, former Cougars quarterback Jack Thompson — who was one of Fountaine's neighbors — told him he should help coach at Ballard High School.
"The juices got flowing," he said. "I had been away from the game for four, five years, and when I got out there on the field, it was like, 'Wow, this is awesome. This is what I need to be doing.' "
He approached UW coaches such as Rick Neuheisel and assistant Tom Williams about getting back in the game full time.
"They talked to me about giving up a pretty stable career for something that isn't necessarily that stable," he said. "But I felt comfortable with it."
He served as a graduate assistant at UW in 2002, then was hired at Portland State in the summer of 2003.
He still follows the Huskies avidly and wonders what the heck has happened.
"Anybody that's a real Dawg, this is hard to see," he said.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company