This is the latest post in Kurt’s continuing series to identify the NFL’s Ultimate Franchise Player of All-Time. For an explanation of his methodology for choosing each franchise’s ultimate franchise player, and then how you and he will choose the NFL’s Ultimate Franchise Player from that list, click here.
I have never personally had a rooting interest in the team, but near the top of my bucket list would have to be a trip to Seahawks Stadium, one of the best fan experiences in the NFL.
Last years the Packers v. Seahawks Monday night game happened to fall on my birthday weekend, and I considered the trip.
Looking back at how the replacement officials became the storyline – and ultimately decided that game – I’m glad I saved the money, but still have my raincheck.
The Seahawks will be a one-bid league for the 64-player UFP Tourney. In fact Seattle got zero love out of the NFL All-Time Top 100 list.
But there are thee compelling cases at the top of Seahawks lore, and it will lead to my hardest UFP selection yet.
There is the current crop that is just blossoming with a team now positioned to make a run at the top of the NFC for the next several years. I have a feeling that by the late 2010s we will be adding some new names at the top of the list.
As of now, here is my top 25…
25. Warren Moon (QB 1997-98, HOF)
I will obviously chronicle Moon more when I get to my upcoming Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers UFP. It was nice to see Moon return to where it all began in the Pacific Northwest (with the University of Washington) towards the end of his sensational 23-year pro career. And it wasn’t like Moon was running on fumes his first year with the Seahawks – in his age 40/41 season Moon was selected to the Pro Bowl and led the entire league in average passing yards per game.
Incidentally, Moon is ranked only #5 on the list of greatest CFL players ever. Doug Flutie heads that list along with running back Mike Pringle, who played part of his career for the Baltimore ‘Horse With No Name’ franchise.
24. Earl Thomas (S 2010-present)
Some of the early players on this list are speculative stock right now, good investments to move up in the all-time Seahawks list as time goes on. The 14th overall pick of the 2010 Draft, Thomas made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2011 and earned All Pro recognition in 2012. His final ranking in the 2012 NFL Top 100 was #66.
23. Richard Sherman (CB 2011-present)
I slot Sherman a spot higher than his current secondary mate possibly on his mic skills alone (Twitter handle @RSherman_25). Sherman’s best moment may have been when he got on ESPN and tore apart Skip Bayless with the following…
‘I’m intelligent enough and capable enough to understand that you are ignorant, pompous, egotistical, cretin. I’m going to crush you on here because I’m tired of hearing about it.’
Cretin?? I have never even heard Ari Kaufman dig up that word??
The former fifth-round pick with a clear chip on the shoulder has sparked controversy amongst his NFL brethren, in addition to beating a possible four-game suspension over the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. What can’t be debated is that Sherman along with Earl Thomas was also named to the All-Pro team in 2012.
If the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl with Sherman on the roster, Media Day will be a blast!!!
22. Russell Wilson (QB 2012-present)
The Seahawks have had some nice quarterbacks over the years, just never a superstar. Wilson may change that – in his rookie campaign Wilson stole thunder off the pre-season Andrew Luck/Robert Griffin hype by finishing with a QB rating just over 100.
By comparison, the two top Seattle QBs of all time (coming later in the top 10 of the countdown) both finished their Seahawks careers with ratings just north of 82.
21. Mack Strong (FB 1993-2007)
Playing 200 games for the Seahawks, his career began clearing holes for Chris Warren and ended paving the way for Shaun Alexander. Joe Nash (NT 1982-96) is another long-tenured player who played every down of his career as a Seahawk and an undrafted player.
20. Steve Hutchinson (OG 2001-05)
Much of Hutchinson’s resume would be completed with the Minnesota Vikings, but Steve earned his first two Pro Bowl nominations as a member of the Seahawks in the early 2000s.
19. Lofa Tatupu (MLB 2005-10)
The NFL can be so fleeting, Tatupu appeared headed possibly for a Hall of Fame-type career making the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons (with one All-Pro nomination). Tatupu left the team as a free agent following the 2010 season and has not played a game in the league since. He spent the 2012 season on the Atlanta Falcons injured reserve list.
18. Jim Zorn (QB 1976-84)
He may now be more recently remembered for being Dan Snyder’s fall guy coaching the Washington Redskins, but as a player Zorn was the Seahawks first QB, and largely because of him the team was competitive from Day One. When he broke into the league, he and Kenny Stabler were the only two left-landed starting QBs. By years three and four of the franchise, the Seahawks were knocking on the playoff door at 9-7 with Zorn calling signals.
17. Eugene Robinson (S 1985-95)
Eugene may be better known for being a Packer later in his career or his infamous Super Bowl eve arrest as a member of the Falcons. But the bulk of Robinson’s career was in Seattle, and he is second all-time on the franchise interception list at 42.
16. Julian Peterson (OLB 2006-08)
Peterson spent the majority of his career down the coast with the San Francisco 49ers, but made the Pro Bowl in all three of his seasons with Seattle.
15. Dave Brown (CB 1986-96)
Brown only made the Pro Bowl once, but he intercepted 50 passes in his Seahawks career and had 62 INTs overall. He scored four times on defense in his last three years in Seattle.
14. Brian Blades (WR 1988-98)
On the field, Blades had a solid career that included four 1,000-yard receiving seasons. However, Blades is probably best remembered for facing a manslaughter rap regarding the death of his cousin. Blades was initially found guilty by a jury, but the presiding judge later overturned the verdict.
13. Michael Sinclair (DE 1992-2001)
Sinclair earned three Pro Bowl nominations at the height of his Seattle career, including a 16.5-sack season in 1998. Now in the coaching business, Sinclair will be Marc Trestman’s staff with the Chicago Bears in 2013. Sinclair had been serving under Trestman previously with the Montreal Alouettes.
12. Chad Brown (OLB 1997-2004)
Brown also spent time with the Steelers and Patriots, but the peak of his career came in Seattle. He also likes hanging around snakes in his spare time.
11. Chris Warren (RB 1990-97)
At the peak of his prowess Warren ripped off four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, including 1,545 rushing yards in 1994 and a 16-touchdown campaign the following year.
10. Jacob Green (DE 1980-91)
Another good longevity pick. Green recorded 54.5 sacks during a four-year period during the 1980s. Green is the Seahawks career leader in sacks with 97.5 officially, 116 if you count a couple of years before the stat was used officially.
9. Curt Warner (RB 1983-89)
Warner was the Seahawks first franchise-type running back, rushing for 1,449 yards and 14 TDs in his rookie season. Warner would suffer a season-ending knee injury in the season opener the following year but returned to have several more productive seasons in the league.
8. Matt Hasselbeck (QB 2001-10)
Hasselbeck had a solid decade-long run as the Seahawks QB after being one of many to previously backup for Brett Favre in Green Bay. He completed more than 60% of his passes in his time with the team and the Seahawks were 80-72 with him as starter.
Overtime back in Green Bay on January 4, 2004, was not Matt’s #1 shining moment however. There is one Seattle QB I like slightly better.
7. Marshawn Lynch (RB 2010-present)
When he was acquired after a turbulent tenure with the Buffalo Bills, I was a little underwhelmed by the Seahawks acquisition a few years back. My mind has changed after Lynch scored 25 touchdowns in the past two seasons and earned All-Pro honors after 1,590 rushing yards in 2012.
And then there was this run in the 2010 NFC Wild Card game, which made the Final Four of the NFL.com’s current 64 Greatest Plays tourney.
6. Dave Krieg (QB 1980-91)
Here is our obligatory Wisconsin representative in the countdown (although Russell Wilson can also apply for residency). And not only that, he is one of the best undrafted players in league history coming out of tiny Milton College (enrollment of about a couple hundred), which went out of business soon after Krieg departed.
Krieg was 70-49 as Seattle’s starting QB, and he lasted 19 years in the league in all playing for five other teams after the Seahawks. Krieg’s total career accomplishments fall just short of Hall of Fame status.
5. Shaun Alexander (RB 2000-07)
With 98 touchdowns scored and 7,500 rushing yards during a five-year period, some would make a case for Shaun even being closer to the top. After his 370-carry/28-touchdown season in 2005, Alexander’s production fell dramatically and he found himself out of the league just three years later. Still, the numbers were so prolific at its peak that Shaun deserves top-five status.
4. Kenny Easley (S 1981-87)
Easley and Ronnie Lott were rivals playing the same position collegiately at UCLA and USC in 1980, and both became top-ten overall draft choices. If it wasn’t for coming down with kidney failure after his seventh season in the league, we would still be talking about Easley and Lott in the same breath.
In his too-brief career, Easley earned All-Pro recognition four times and was the 1984 Defensive Player of the year, deserving of being the first face on the Seahawks Mt. Rushmore.
THEN THERE WERE THREE
Just call them 1A, 1B, and 1C…
Walter Jones (OT 1997-2008)
One of the best to play his position in recent generations, and Jones was only responsible for allowing 23 quarterback sacks in his 12 years in the league. A Pro Bowl selection nine out of his last ten seasons, Jones’ quiet personality was the only thing that kept him from getting the deserved acclaimed nationally. Jones was the team’s MVP in its five consecutive playoff appearances from 2003-07, and many feel he was one of the best players in the league at any position during that period.
As it is, smart money has Jones going to Canton in 2014.
Cortez Kennedy (DT 1990-2000, HOF)
With the third overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks did not mess up. Then coach Chuck Knox put Tez at the same slot in the defensive line he played at the University of Miami. In Tez’s words, he just let ‘the big dog hunt’ after that, as he earned five All-Pro nominations and joined Kenny Easley as the two players in franchise history to win Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, a season in which the team finished 2-14.
Steve Largent (WR 1976-1989, HOF)
Largent is a perfect example of an individual who excelled based on opportunity, which unfortunately equal talents do not always get.
Largent wasn’t close to being the fastest or most impressive physical specimen to ever play his position. He was drafted in the eighth round by the Houston Oilers in 1976 and was considered a long shot to make the team out of camp.
The Oilers, though, found a taker for Largent’s services in the then-expansion Seahawks. The rest was history. By the time he retired, Largent had set a league record catching a pass in 177 consecutive games and had broken league records in receptions (819) and receiving yards (13,000+). He also finally broke Don Hutson’s long-standing record with his 100th receiving touchdown.
AND THE WINNER IS…
As I said previously, toughest decision yet.
I really wanted to choose Walter Jones as Seahawks UFP. When in doubt, I like to go with one of the big uglies on the line.
But then I went to my social media connections and asked the people out there, a few of which have followed the Seahawks over the years. I got two responses back, both said Steve Largent.
At that point I reconsidered.
Largent was actually ranked 46th on the Sporting News All-Time Top 100 Pro Football Players in 1999. Eleven years later Largent was kept entirely off the NFL Network’s Top 100 countdown.
Did 55 players really zoom past Largent in just a decade’s time??
The NFL Top 100 show puts Lance Alworth at #38 and snubbed Largent completely out of the Top 100. Pro Football Reference has Largent at #38, which might be slightly high, but I wouldn’t put him too much lower than that.
In my opinion, Largent is a victim of forgotten greatness, in part to the insane stats put up by many receivers who followed as the game we know today continued to evolve.
Following the 2012 season, Largent is now just 13th on the total yards list and 21st in receptions.
And those 100 career TD receptions??
Terrell Owens would finish with 153. Randy Moss 156, Cris Carter 130, Marvin Harrison 128, and finally Jerry Rice with a ridiculous 197.
In fact, Rice actually finished his career with the Seahawks and briefly un-retired Largent’s #80 in the process.
What Rice can’t un-retire however is Largent’s own place in history.
So, after much thought, my nomination for Seattle Seahawks Ultimate Franchise Player goes to…