Versatility is Leon Washington’s middle name

Jun 13, 2012, 12:12 PM | Updated: Jun 15, 2012, 1:20 am

By Bill Swartz

It’s no secret that the more things you can do well, the more valuable you become to your employer. Leon Washington is the Seattle Seahawks’ “Mr. Versatility,” something that’s always been in his nature.

The 29-year-old Washington told me after minicamp practice this week that he’s always tried to sample new things. Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., he enjoyed playing baseball and basketball before football became his career path.

“I try to come out here and get better at something I do every single day,” he said. “Staying after practice and fielding punts is part of it, because my goal is to become the best return man in the league.”

The Florida State alum has become one of the best returners in NFL history. He has seven career returns for touchdowns, second only to Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs. Washington takes it to the house four percent of the time. That’s fifth on the all-time list, behind players like Devin Hester, Ollie Matson and Gale Sayers.

Washington, wife Charity and their two sons have decided to immerse themselves in the Seattle community. Washington has become a huge Mariners and Sounders fan. Yes, there’s plenty to like in soccer.

“The Sounders sell out every game with 38,000, and we’re one of the best teams in MLS,” he said. “The energy is awesome. When I was at the game I was tweeting and recording Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson making big plays out there. I enjoy it so much.”

You would think a Florida guy would be cheering on the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Not quite the case for Washington.

“No, I’m a Kobe Bryant fan,” he said. “I like the Lakers, but I will be pulling for the Heat because I think in this situation they are the underdogs.”

Washington is excited about his role as the third-down running back.

“We’re going to compliment each other very well,” he said. “Obviously, we know what Marshawn [Lynch] can do, bringing Turbo [Robert Turbin] in here — you can see the guns he has — with me, my versatility being able to catch the ball out of the backfield and also run the ball from of the backfield. When I get my name called, I have to be ready.”

Washington’s personal goal for the 2012 campaign is to make the Pro Bowl as a return specialist. If he does that, he says, the Seahawks will also have a very successful season.

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Versatility is Leon Washington’s middle name