PORT ANGELES — Jim Michalczik, one of the best football players to ever don a Port Angeles High School uniform, came so close to be near his alma mater and lending his support to the school and football program.
But it wasn’t to be, at least right now.
Michalczik, who was named the new offensive coordinator for the Washington Huskies just two months ago, quit his new job Monday.
That’s because he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The Oakland Raiders came calling, offering him a job as the head offensive line coach for pretty much the same pay, $350,000, he was getting at Washington.
He liked his job in Seattle and working for new Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian, Michalczik said in an interview from his cell phone Tuesday night.
“I have been lucky to work with great coaches, and Steve Sarkisian is a great coach,” he said.
But Michalczik has had a dream of working in the NFL, and when friend Tom Cable, the new Oakland head coach, called, the Port Angeles product politely listened, and then snapped up the job.
“It’s hard to break into the NFL,” Michalczik said. “And you usually break in as the offensive line assistant coach. But I was offered the offensive line head coaching position.
“I couldn’t pass it up.”
Plus, the Michalcziks — with their two young sons — still have their home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Michalczik coached at California for the past seven years.
The family likes it in the Bay Area.
“One of my sons asked that if I did well at Washington, if I would get a job at the Raiders,” Michalczik said.
“We have been lucky to be at one place for seven years,” he added. “Maybe we can be there for at least a couple of more years. But my sons know that we may have to move at any time.”
But there are regrets for Michalczik. And that includes not moving up close to his parents, Joe and Maxine Michalczik, who are longtime Port Angeles residents.
“They’re snowbirds,” Michalczik said about his parents. They usually winter in Arizona, he said.
“Maybe we can talk them into stopping in the Bay Area for a week to-and-from Sun City and Seattle.”
But there is another regret, too. Having the chance to visit Port Angeles High School, watch a few football games from the stands and to give his support to the old hometown team.
“I have been so busy that I haven’t had the chance to get up there,” Michalczik said.
And he won’t have time now because he will be one of the Raiders’ representatives at the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis starting Feb. 18.
That’s where NFL officials check out the top college players in the country.
Besides helping draft quality offensive linemen, Michalczik will be coaching the Oakland line, which has a good mix of experience and youth, according to the coach.
His job will be to get them to protect young quarterback JaMarcus Russell and to block for the running game.
The Raiders’ line hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in recent years despite drafting highly regarded Robert Gallery No. 2 a few years ago.
“You don’t get a lot of glory working on the offensive line,” Michalczik said.
“That’s for guys who really want to compete. The blue-collar players.”
While Michalczik might be coaching the players laboring away in the trenches, he is stepping onto the biggest stage football has to offer.
And he started on that humble field right off Park Avenue in Port Angeles.