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Meet and Greet

Sunday quarterbacking with a legend

Service members spend the afternoon watching the NFL Pro Bowl with former Oakland Raiders defensive end Otis Sistrunk during an event at the Warrior Zone

Published: 10:58AM January 31st, 2013
Sunday quarterbacking with a legend

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Service members (from left) Earl Prince, Johnathon Hobbs and Josiah Denike visit with Oakland Raiders great Otis Sistrunk while watching the NFL Pro Bowl Jan. 27 at the Warrior Zone on JBLM Lewis North. Sistrunk took time to visit with service members and sign autographs. Sistrunk has been the Cowan and Memorial Stadiums manager for the past 22 years.

Johnathan Hobbs understands time is valuable.

The JBLM Soldier with the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade was grateful Super Bowl champion Otis Sistrunk took the time to not only meet service members, but also watch the National Football League’s Pro Bowl with them Sunday at the JBLM Warrior Zone. Sistrunk played in the same NFL all-star game as a player.

“I think it’s cool that people take their own time to meet people and appreciate what they do,” Hobbs said. “It means a whole lot.”

And even though Hobbs is a San Francisco 49ers fan, he didn’t turn down the opportunity to get a signed photo — or three — of the 6-foot-4 former Oakland Raiders defensive end/tackle. Sistrunk played for Oakland from 1972 to 1980 and was a part of the Super Bowl XI championship team in 1977. Sistrunk’s Pro Bowl appearance was in 1975 — the NFL’s 25th annual all-star game — Jan. 20, 1975 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. In talking with Sistrunk, Hobbs learned the former football great has been the Cowan Stadium and Memorial Stadium manager on Lewis Main the last 22 years.

Sistrunk, 68, stopped by the Warrior Zone to sign autographs, pose for photos and also to watch the Pro Bowl. Sistrunk joined a handful of service members, including Hobbs, in front of one of 53 TVs at the Warrior Zone to watch the National Football Conference defeat the AFC, 62-35.

Wearing an Oakland hat and jacket that read “Just Win Baby,” Sistrunk talked football with his company and passed around his Super Bowl ring. He was asked a variety of football questions.

His Super Bowl pick was for Sunday’s championship is the 49ers over the Baltimore Ravens).

Earl Prince grew up in California and will always be a Raiders fan, while he admits the Indianapolis Colts are his favorite team. The Soldier with the 62nd Medical Brigade asked Sistrunk for an autograph for his father, who grew up watching the Raiders’ No. 60 recover seven fumbles and pick off three interceptions in 98 games played (quarterback sack statistics were not recorded when he played).

During his tenure the Raiders went 75-23-2. Prince said he also grew up watching some of the films Sistrunk acted in.

“I’m a big football fan, and even for a person who isn’t a football fan, to have someone famous or a star come out and hang out for a day and watch the game with you, it lifts up your spirits,” Prince said.

Sunday’s event was the first time Prince had the opportunity to talk with Sistrunk one-on-one. Prince and Hobbs shared a couch with Sistrunk while they watched the game.

Warrior Zone supervisor Bill Strock invited Sistrunk to watch the game at the state-of-the-art entertainment center Sunday, the same day the Warrior Zone also celebrated the completion of its first year serving service members.

“It’s good to see these guys and hang out with them,” Sistrunk said. “It’s an honor to be here.”

As for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII, Sistrunk said he plans to watch it from the comfort of his own home.