Is Dustin Ackley The Most Disappointing Draft Pick In Seattle Sports History?

Right off the bat, don’t talk to me about the Sounders, the Storm, or any other lesser sport I don’t care as much about.  This is a Seahawks/Sonics/Mariners discussion, so LAY OFF!

Also, we’re talking straight draft picks.  Believe me, I’m well aware of all the bad trades and free agent signings, as well as the draft picks we’ve traded away, but this is a look at the most disappointing players we’ve seen drafted in this city for those three professional franchises.  With that out of the way, let’s begin.

Dustin Ackley was taken with the #2 overall pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.  In 2008, the Seattle Mariners finished 61-101 for the right to pick #2 overall.  You may recall that, going into the final three games of the 2008 season, the Mariners were 58-101 and in line for the #1 overall pick.  The Washington Nationals, with three games to go, were 59-99.  So, what happened?  The Mariners swept the A’s and the Nationals got swept by the Phillies.  As such, the Nationals were graced with the #1 overall pick and the right to draft the hottest pitching prospect since Roger Clemens:  Stephen Strasburg.

You can say what you want about the injury-plagued start to Strasburg’s career, but you can’t deny he has elite stuff and you can’t deny he’s had three very good seasons from 2012-2014.  We don’t know where his career will take him – and obviously, with Mike Trout being selected by the Angels with the 25th overall pick, it’s not like he’s the best player in that draft – but one thing we do know is that he’s a HELLUVA lot better than Dustin Ackley will ever be.

We got screwed.  Dustin Ackley was supposed to be the clear best hitter and most Major League-ready player in that draft.  We were going to get an athletic guy who could play the outfield or various infield spots, and a mainstay in our lineup.  Your prototypical 2-hole hitter.  He was supposed to have a good eye, get on base at a fantastic clip, and even hit for a bit of power (mostly doubles, but the occasional homer), with just enough speed on the basepaths to keep everyone honest.

What we GOT was a guy with a poor eye at the plate, poor pitch selection, a noodle-arm, who rolls over on balls to the second or first baseman 80% of the time.  At a time (coming off of our attrocious 2008 season, continuing through our 2010 season where we were one of the worst offenses of all time), Ackley was supposed to breeze through the minors and give our lineup a boost.  Instead, he’s been spoken in the same breath as Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero WAY too often for comfort.

He sucks us in because he’s a #2-overall pick, and because he sometimes has these wonderful second halves to seasons that trick us into thinking he’s finally gotten everything figured out.  Then, he turns right back around the following spring and hits:

  • .200/.222/.341/.563, with 3 doubles, 3 homers, 7 RBI, and about 50,000 runners left on base in 30 games

This is his fifth year in the Major Leagues.  Here are his career numbers:  .243/.305/.365.  You have to wonder, if he doesn’t turn it around and I mean SOON, if this is his last chance with the Mariners.  I can’t imagine we go into 2016 with him as a starter, but I have to wonder if we go into 2016 with him even on the roster at all!

Does this make him the most disappointing draft pick in franchise history?  Well, let’s take a little look back.  Too soon to talk about Alex Jackson (2014) or D.J. Peterson (2013).  Mike Zunino was the 3rd overall pick in 2012; he’s been less than ideal at the plate.  But, he’s still probably too young (and at least hits for SOME power) to make a judgment.  Danny Hultzen was the 2nd overall pick in 2011 and has been severely injured for much of his career of late, so he has to be in the running, right?  Except, the thing is, he’s a pitcher, and the Mariners have been fairly flush with pitching in recent years since he was selected.  Hard to call him as much of a disappointment when we haven’t really needed to rely on him for anything.

Maybe we should take a look at what it means to be disappointing in a sports setting.  For starters, I feel like you have to be a first round pick.  These are the guys who – in theory – should be the closest to helping your team right away.  In baseball, you expect these guys to be on the fast track, to hit the Major Leagues in 2-4 years, depending on their development.  In football and basketball, depending on how deep your roster is, you expect these guys to contribute immediately, and in some instances even start for you immediately.  So, when they fail to live up to those reasonable expectations, they’re disappointments.  Obviously, the higher you draft them, the bigger the disappointments.

Going back, here are the rest of the Mariners’ top-10 draft picks through the years:

  • 2006 – Brandon Morrow (5)
  • 2005 – Jeff Clement (3)
  • 1995 – Jose Cruz Jr (3)
  • 1993 – Alex Rodriguez (1)
  • 1990 – Marc Newfield (6)
  • 1989 – Roger Salkeld (3)
  • 1987 – Ken Griffey Jr (1)
  • 1986 – Patrick Lennon (8)
  • 1985 – Mike Campbell (7)
  • 1984 – Bill Swift (2)
  • 1983 – Darrel Akerfelds (7)
  • 1981 – Mike Moore (1)
  • 1980 – Darnell Coles (6)
  • 1979 – Al Chambers (1)
  • 1978 – Tito Nanni (6)

Sure, Brandon Morrow was disappointing, but for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, we should’ve taken UW’s Tim Lincecum instead.  Second, we kept dicking around with Morrow by starting off his career in the bullpen.  Third, we probably gave up on him and traded him away too soon (for Brandon League, who was an all-around disaster).  Ackley still has Morrow beat in the disappointment department.

Clement was disappointing, but I think we were all more disappointed in our front office moreso than the player.  That 2005 draft was FUCKING STACKED; 6 of the first 7 players selected have been All Stars (with Clement being the only dud), and 8 of the first 12 have played in an All Star Game.  Bill Bavasi at his finest!

Jose Cruz Jr was solid when he was a Mariner, then we traded him away for two shitty relievers, then he got really bad, and then he was gone.  Again, more disappointed in our front office for giving up on a quality prospect too soon.

A-Rod was disappointing because he was a greedy scumbag & soon-to-be cheater.  But, his level of play on the field was unmatched, so there’s no way I’m calling him a bigger disappointment than Ackley (also, yes, I would have taken the money and played for the Rangers, so eat me, he’s still a greedy fuck).

Anyone before A-Rod is out of my wheelhouse (aside from Griffey, of course, who was the single greatest draft pick in franchise history).  You can post your reasons in the comments as to why you think some of those old timers might be more disappointing than Dustin Ackley, but for now, I’m saying this with full confidence:  Dustin Ackley is the most disappointing draft pick in Mariners history.

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Let’s jump right into the Seattle Seahawks.  Who is their most disappointing first round draft pick?  Again, I’ll run through all the top 10 picks (even though I think we all have a pretty good idea who this is going to end up being):

  • 2010 – Russell Okung (6)
  • 2009 – Aaron Curry (4)
  • 2001 – Koren Robinson (9)
  • 1997 – Shawn Springs (3)
  • 1997 – Walter Jones (6)
  • 1995 – Joey Galloway (8)
  • 1994 – Sam Adams (8)
  • 1993 – Rick Mirer (2)
  • 1992 – Ray Roberts (10)
  • 1990 – Cortez Kennedy (3)
  • 1983 – Curt Warner (3)
  • 1982 – Jeff Bryant (6)
  • 1981 – Kenny Easley (4)
  • 1980 – Jacob Green (10)
  • 1978 – Keith Simpson (9)
  • 1976 – Steve Niehaus (2)

Not gonna lie to you, I’m not up on my Steve Niehaus or Keith Simpson knowledge, but let’s just assume they’re not the most disappointing draft picks in Seahawks history.  Green, Easley, and Bryant were mainstays of a dominant defense in the 1980s, so count them out.  Curt Warner was only disappointing because we didn’t use that pick to try to trade up for John Elway (or trade back to take one of the other amazing quarterbacks in that class).  Curt Warner the player was dynamic when he was healthy.

Cortez and Walter Jones are probably tied for the very best draft picks in Seahawks history, as both are Hall of Famers.  Ray Roberts was a solid offensive lineman in his career (if not specifically his Seahawks career).  Sam Adams was a fringe Hall of Famer for the Ravens, but had a nice and long career elsewhere (including Seattle for a few productive seasons).  Joey Galloway and Shawn Springs were studs who had their best years away from the northwest (but, again, were no slouches in a Seahawks uniform).  Okung has been a steady starter at left tackle (and a fine Walter Jones replacement when healthy) since he was a rookie.

For me, the disappointments come down to Aaron Curry, Koren Robinson, and Rick Mirer.  But, before I talk about this trio of Top 10 turds, let’s take a look at some honorable mentions from a little lower in the first round.

Lawrence Jackson was taken 28th overall.  He was supposed to come in and breathe life into our tepid pass rush.  Instead, he joined our team in 2008 as the franchise bottomed out, let Mike Holmgren walk, and eventually ushered in the Era of Good Feelings that has been Pete Carroll and John Schneider.  Oh yeah, and Jackson stunk the whole while and it wasn’t long before Carroll traded him away for scraps.

In 2006, the Seahawks selected Kelly Jennings with the 31st overall pick.  Coming off of our first-ever Super Bowl appearance, we were in desperate need of shoring up our secondary.  Kelly Jennings was no help in this regard.  While it’s hard to expect super-greatness out of your 31st overall draft pick, he was still a member of this team – and a starter at that – for far too long, leading us to suffer a barrage of long bombs over his outstretched midget arms.

In 2002, the Seahawks selected Jerramy Stevens 28th overall.  That’s all I need to say about this wretch.

In the 1987 NFL Supplemental Draft, the Seahawks took Brian Bosworth with what amounts to a first round draft pick.  He was subsequently given the largest contract in franchise history, and rewarded us with lackluster and often embarrassing play.  He was a better action movie star than a football player, and that’s REALLY not saying much.

But, let’s get back to our Top 3 disappointments from before.  I’m scratching off Koren Robinson, for starters.  Yes, he had the talent to be elite – and pissed it all away with addiction – but one has to wonder if he was even the right fit for this type of offense to begin with.  And, while he wasn’t spectacular, he was far from dreadful.  I’m giving him a pass.

This boils down to Aaron Curry and Rick Mirer.  You may recall with Aaron Curry, we were coming off of our dreadful 2008 season.  With the 4th overall pick, people were screaming for the Seahawks to take a quarterback.  With Matthew Stafford already off the board, and Mark Sanchez sitting there, the Seahawks opted to do the prudent thing:  take the “safest pick in the draft”.  Aaron Curry was an outside linebacker and – depending on who you talked to – was some mix of Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas.  We were going to pair him with Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill to have the best linebacking corps in the entire NFL.

Instead, he was slow to pick up the game mentally, slow to pick up the intricacies of his position, and just all-around slow on the field.  He did practically nothing for us, wound up being traded for a low-round draft pick, and was replaced on the field by a mid-round draft pick.  But, considering the Seahawks were bottoming out all over the roster, it’s hard to peg all of our troubles on Curry.  Even if he’d panned out as we’d hoped, he still would have been just a good player on a crappy team.

Rick Mirer, on the other hand, was supposed to save us.  In 1992, the Seahawks shared the worst record in the NFL with the New England Patriots at 2-14.  Thanks to our victory over those very same Patriots, they held the tie-breaker for the #1 overall pick.  As a result, they got to select the best quarterback of that class – Wazzu’s Drew Bledsoe – while we had to settle for Rick Mirer out of Notre Dame.

Mirer came out of the gate on fire, breaking many rookie quarterback records that would eventually be broken by Peyton Manning (the only time Rick Mirer should ever be mentioned in the same sentence as Peyton Manning, by the way).  He quickly either regressed or simply failed to develop, but either way, he SUUUUUUCKED thereafter.  Adding fuel to the fire of his disappointment, I recently was referred to this article (hat tip to Dave Krieg’s Strike Beard) that revealed there was an outside shot of the Seahawks getting Steve Young from the 49ers for the rights to allow the 49ers to draft Mirer to be Joe Montana’s heir apparent.  Isn’t THAT just the ultimate kick to the groin?  Doesn’t that make Rick Mirer the ultimate slam dunk most disappointing draft pick in Seahawks history?

I want to say yes, but RACING PAST THE PACK ON THE OUTSIDE, OUR DARK-HORSE CONTENDER:  1991’s 16th overall draft pick, Dan McGwire!

What’s the meaning of THIS?  Well, I’ll tell you:  the Seahawks brass was very high on the 6’8 towering suckferno, while Chuck Knox – easily our greatest head coach in franchise history to that point – wanted to select a little guy out of Southern Mississippi, the 6’2 Brett Favre.

Dan McGwire started all of five games with the Seahawks in four seasons.  Chuck Knox left the franchise after 1991, right before everything bottomed out in 1992.  As stated above, the Seahawks would use the #2 overall pick on yet another quarterback two years later, and the franchise overall would founder in mediocrity for a decade until Mike Holmgren turned things around.  All of this MAY have been avoided, if Chuck Knox had his way and we’d drafted a certain hall of famer who owns or owned just about every passing record in NFL history.

Most disappointing draft pick?  For all those reasons, I’m going with Dan McGwire by a nose over Rick Mirer (bottom line:  at least Mirer had ONE good season).

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In an effort to prevent this post from going beyond the 5,000 word mark, I’m going to give the abbreviated version of the Sonics’ most disappointing draft pick:  it doesn’t compare to what the Seahawks and Mariners have stacked against them.  Purely for disappointment’s sake, it’s disappointing to see Scottie Pippen’s name as our #5 overall draft pick in 1987 (he would be traded to the Bulls and replaced by Olden Polynice, but again, this isn’t a post about trades), but at least Pippen’s departure eventually led to Shawn Kemp’s rise.

The fact of the matter is, the Sonics – for the most part, until the last decade or so – were a well-run and successful organization (crazy, I know).  Our first round draft picks were generally low in the round, if we had them at all.  The high ones tended to pan out (Payton, #2 overall; McKey, #9 overall; McDaniel, #4 overall).  And, since once again I’m not all that familiar with all the old-timers, I’m not even going to go there and you can hash it out in the comments.

In an effort to save time, let’s just say the most disappointing draft pick in Seattle Sonics history is Robert Swift (#12 overall in 2004, when we were in DESPERATE need of a big man; he would be the first of three consecutive first round draft pick duds – Petro & Sene to follow – that would ultimately cost this franchise dearly).  Now, let’s call it a day and everyone agree that Robert Swift is nowhere NEAR as disappointing as Dan McGwire or Dustin Ackley.

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So, where do we land on all of this?  Is Dustin Ackley the most disappointing draft pick in Seattle sports history?

Welp, I’ve already discussed the cases for both he and Dan McGwire.  With Ackley, we’re still talking about an Incomplete.  We don’t know how his career is going to pan out, even if we have a pretty solid idea that he’s going to continue to be terrible.  With McGwire, we know how it panned out, and we know what we could’ve had with Favre.  McGwire FEELS like the more disappointing of the two, but before we give him the crown, we have to speculate on the ol’ butterfly effect.

Dan McGwire kept us from drafting Brett Favre (or, rather, the organization choosing to go with him over Knox’s preferred choice).  That’s the case, right in a nutshell.  So, we have to wonder:  how good could the Seahawks have been with Brett Favre at the helm?

Would Chuck Knox have stayed on past 1991?  Would the team have drafted appropriately around him?  It’s pretty safe to say that Brett Favre would’ve been great wherever he went, but how much of his career was molded by Mike Holmgren?  I wouldn’t call the Packers a bastion of a franchise when they traded for him, so it’s not like the team was great and then Favre appeared as the last piece of the puzzle.  He grew with that franchise to be one of the best in football.  Could that have rubbed off on the Seahawks?  Or, would our franchise bumbling have prevented Favre from being his very best?

I would argue that the Seahawks would’ve been rock solid throughout the 90s.  Much better than the string of .500 (or near-.500) records we were saddled with.  There was always talent on those 90s Seahawks teams, but we were ALWAYS missing out on the quarterback position.  Warren Moon had a couple good years, but that was at the tail end of his career, and he kept getting injured when we needed him most.  Every other quarterback we had in the 90s was terrible.

With Favre in Seattle, does Mike Holmgren become MIKE HOLMGREN in Green Bay?  Does he find another quarterback to mold and turn that franchise around?  I think it’s safe to say, Favre in Seattle means we never hire Holmgren later.  And, you have to wonder if we have the group in place that we have now.

Does Favre turn this franchise around before Ken Behring sells the team to Paul Allen?  Does he have a change of heart and decide to keep the Seahawks and keep them in Seattle?  Do we have what is now CenturyLink Field?  If Paul Allen isn’t the owner, we certainly don’t have our stadium in its current form; I’m sure it would look much different now.  And, I have to wonder if we have the Sounders either, for what it’s worth.

Ultimately, does Brett Favre lead the Seahawks to be world champions?  THAT, I’m not totally sure about.  It’s nice to think so, but you have to wonder how it happens.  How long does Chuck Knox stick around if we give him the quarterback he wants?  He was already getting up there in age by 1991; how many years does he stick around after that?  And, who becomes his replacement?  I would argue Tom Flores was the worst head coach we’ve ever had in Seahawks history; I don’t think he wins even with the mid-90s Cowboys.  Does he still replace Knox?  Do we grab someone else?

The point is:  there are SO MANY “what if’s” that go into the Brett Favre as a Seahawk scenario.  And, what I would argue is most important in all of this is:  if Brett Favre never leads us to a world championship (whether or not it’s his fault, or the fault of ownership, or just the players we saddled him with), then he is 100% not worth the trouble.  The way things actually happened – with the Seahawks winning it all in the 2013 season – made a lot of the previous suffering worth it.  That’s all that matters.

Now, if Brett Favre coming here means the Seahawks would’ve been a dynasty much earlier, then I think he is worth it and I think Dan McGwire wins the title of most disappointing draft pick.  Even if it means the team we have now (in this hypothetical universe) looks nothing like the team we have in our real, actual universe.

Ultimately, my gut tells me that even if the Seahawks had taken Brett Favre, and he’d turned into the franchise quarterback we waited SO LONG to get, I kinda doubt we ever would’ve won it all with him.  Too many variables.  We likely wouldn’t have had the type of hall of fame coaching staff that Holmgren assembled in Green Bay, and we likely wouldn’t have gotten the type of championship talent to put around Favre like they were able to do under Ron Wolf.  Let’s face it, for a lot of reasons, the Seahawks were just plain broken as a franchise in the 1990s.  It took all the tumult, the disaster of an owner, the mis-management of the general manager, the bumbling of the coaching staff, and the underperforming of the players to lead to Paul Allen, Mike Holmgren 2.0, Matt Hasselbeck and our success in the 2000s, the bottoming out in 2008 & 2009, and the foresight to bring in Pete Carroll and pairing him with John Schneider to finally turn this organization into a world-class sports franchise.

You COULD say that Dan McGwire was a big part in giving us all of this!  And, I must say, as a fan in my 30s, I’m certainly appreciating all of our good fortune MUCH more than I would have been as a fan in my teens in the 1990s.

Yes, Dustin Ackley is a disappointment.  Yes, there were truly great players taken after him (including the aforementioned Mike Trout).  And yes, he’s been a big part of all the sucking the Mariners have been a part of in his time in the Major Leagues.  He’s been given MANY more chances to start and play a huge part on this team, and he’s done JUST enough to keep earning those chances even though he’s never broken through to make good on all of his promise.  Dan McGwire, for as enraging as his selection was, was never much more than a longshot prospect.  His college career wasn’t some amazing slam dunk; we were picking him based on his size, his strong arm, and the fact that he “looked” like a starting quarterback.  These types of quarterbacks are selected in the first round every single year, and these types of quarterbacks end up falling well short of their potential every single year.

#2 overall Major League Baseball draft picks are supposed to be different.  At #2, you know you have the opportunity to draft that year’s very best pitcher or hitter.  In our case, we took the “best hitter”.  That guy isn’t supposed to continuously be as mediocre as Ackley has been.  Either he’s great, or he gets injured and we all sit around wondering “what if”.  Ackley has been nothing if not healthy, and he’s been sometimes intriguing, but most of all he’s been a complete failure.

The Mariners missed and missed big when they selected Dustin Ackley.  He not only prevented us from taking a better hitter, but he’s actively hurting us now with his sucking.  If he panned out – as the so-called best hitter in his class should have – we’d be looking at a monster lineup with him paired with Cano, Cruz, and Seager.  Instead, he’s one of our ever-growing cadre of black holes.  We can’t sit him, because we don’t have anyone better (depending on your opinion of Justin Ruggiano), we can’t trade him because we’ll get nothing in return, and we can’t cut him because – as I said before – we don’t have anyone better.  The bottom line in all of this is, while the Mariners are improving as a franchise, there are too many holes on this team for it to be a championship contender.  Dustin Ackley is a huge reason why there are as many holes as there are.  And, for that reason, I’m calling him our most disappointing draft pick in Seattle sports history.

Revising My All-Time Seahawks Greats

The last time I did something like this, we were in the middle of the offseason in 2011.  In all likelihood, I was looking for some way to fill space in the dreadful month of March when all the other local sports are effectively shut down and you can only say so much about Spring Training.

You may recall at the time that we were just coming off Pete Carroll’s first year with the team.  We made the playoffs at 7-9 and upset the reigning champion Saints in the Beastquake Game.  It was all very fun, but built on a house of cards.  The roster was aging, as leftovers from the Holmgren Era clung for dear life.  We drafted some promising rookies before the 2010 season – including Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor – which may go down as the all-time greatest draft class in franchise history (and, indeed, probably ranks pretty high in NFL history as well).

To be fair, my list of the greatest Seahawks of all time was pretty solid for what it was.  But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now.  So, I thought I’d go back and compare what my list would be today vs. what it was nearly four full years ago.  Let’s go to town:

Quarterback

2011:  Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn
2014:  Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg

You’re going to see a pattern here as we go forward:  better players from the current era will be pushing down players from previous eras.  It’s difficult to compare someone like Wilson – who is working on his third year in the pros – against someone like Hasselbeck who played for us for so much longer.  But, in this case, I’m going to keep it nice and simple:  Russell Wilson led us to three playoff appearances, two division titles, two #1 seeds, and one Super Bowl title (pending what happens in this year’s playoffs).  Wilson is a winner, and he’s the guy who’s starting for me in my hypothetical Greatest Seahawks Team Of All Time.

Running Back

2011:  Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Ricky Watters
2014:  Marshawn Lynch, Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner

I opted to throw out the numbers here.  If I went strictly by numbers, Shaun Alexander would still be the clear starter for this team.  9,429 yards and 100 TDs with the Seahawks for Alexander against 5,930 yards and 54 TDs with the Seahawks for Lynch.  The numbers say it’s a no-brainer.  But, I’m going with my heart on this one, and my heart says BEASTMODE!

Wide Receiver

2011:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Paul Skansi
2014:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin

So, the thing is, it’s going to be VERY difficult to overtake the top three (and damn near impossible to overtake the top receiver on my list, because Largent is my favorite), what with how this offense is constructed and executed.  Furthermore, I realize Skansi was a reach, but I’m not sure I had a whole lot to work with.  Also, with Golden Tate playing for the Lions now, he’s obviously stuck where he is, with no chance for advancement unless he – by some miracle – returns to the Seahawks.  Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, if he sticks it out long term, could be a quick riser.  We’ll see where we are in another 3-4 years.  I could see someone like Baldwin topping out in the top 2 or 3.

Tight End

2011:  Itula Mili, John Carlson, Christian Fauria
2014:  Zach Miller, Itula Mili, John Carlson

The tight end position for the Seahawks throughout history is a vast wasteland of sadness.  Numbers might say that Jerramy Stevens deserves to be in the top 3, but numbers can suck my dick because Jerramy Stevens can suck my dick.  Zach Miller is a lynchpin for this offense who’s equal parts offensive lineman and soft-hands-pass-catcher.  He’s adorbs and I hope he gets well soon and sticks around another couple years.  I also hope someone like Luke Willson improves his catching ability, because I could see him being a fast riser here too.  It’s pretty sad that someone like Carlson is still hanging around on this list, what with how short his time was with us.

Fullback

2011:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams
2014:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams

While the fullback position is going the way of the dodo bird, I still got love!  And, while I think the world of Michael Robinson as a leader, a special teams stalwart, and a powerful lead blocker for Beastmode in previous seasons (before being forced into retirement and a new career in the media), there’s just no way his impact surpassed what Mack Strong and John L. Williams were able to do.  And, not for nothing, but I think those two names are going to be 1 & 2 on this fullback list for the duration of my lifetime.

Offensive Line

2011:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
2014:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard

So, the thing here is:  I’ve made a conscious decision to list a man for every spot along the line (as opposed to, say, listing the five best linemen regardless of where they played along the line).  That having been said, if I felt like cheating (or, if I had the power of some sort of god), I’d probably look to put Russell Okung in at right tackle (because, let’s face it, he nor anyone else will be supplanting hall of famer Walter Jones).  Max Unger is a curious omission, but quite frankly, he’s been too injured in his stint as this team’s starting center to get serious consideration.  An interesting case will be J.R. Sweezy.  If he sticks around and continues his trajectory of improvement, we could be looking at a switch at right guard.  But, for now, Sweezy’s a little too loose in pass protection to take over that spot.

Defensive End

2011:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Phillip Daniels
2014:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Michael Bennett

Chris Clemons gets an honorable mention here.  I’ve split these up by first and second team.  Green & Sinclair are the clear 1 & 2 in Seahawks history and will be for the foreseeable future.  Michael Bennett jumps up into the second team because he’s been a force since his return and can pretty much do it all.  I opted to put him in with the ends because, to be honest, there are too many good defensive tackles, which you will see shortly.

Defensive Tackle

2011:  Cortez Kennedy, Joe Nash / Rocky Bernard, Sam Adams, John Randle
2014:  Cortez Kennedy, Brandon Mebane / Joe Nash, Rocky Bernard

The only reason Mebane was left off of my 2011 list is because he hadn’t quite played long enough, and because there was a question about whether he’d be sticking around long term.  Luckily for us, Carroll & Schneider saw fit to extend him, which has been a boon to our line.  You get a great sense of his value with him out of the lineup, as there are many things we just can’t do without him.  It has taken a rotation of 3-4 guys to try to make up for Mebane’s absence, which is about as impressive as it gets.

Also, can you IMAGINE what a defensive line would look like with a healthy Mebane in at nose tackle and an in-his-prime Cortez playing right alongside him?  Partner those two up with literally any of the defensive ends I’ve listed above and you’re talking about a powerhouse line on par with some of the best in the history of the NFL!

And, for the record, I understand going with a 3-man second team in 2011 was a total cop out.  Glad Mebane is here on this list to clean up my mess.

Linebacker

2011:  Chad Brown, Lofa Tutupu, Rufus Porter
2014:  Chad Brown, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright

So, yeah.  In my hypothetical defense here, I’m sticking with just the lone middle linebacker, but I’ve opted to essentially interchange who plays at outside linebacker.  In other words, I haven’t differentiated between strongside and weakside.  K.J. Wright’s primary position is weakside, but I THINK that’s where Brown played as well.  What puts Wright ahead of most other linebackers in Seahawks history is his versatility.  He can play all three spots, he’s been a stud since he joined the team, and he was just extended long term.  For the record, if I was picking linebackers regardless of position, Lofa certainly makes this list.  But, Bobby Wagner is lethal and should be for many more years than Tatupu.

Cornerback

2011:  Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant, Shawn Springs
2014:  Richard Sherman, Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant

This one is kind of irritating.  Right off the bat, Richard Sherman is the greatest cornerback we’ve ever had, full stop.  Dave Brown is a Ring Of Honor member and a VERY good corner in his own right.  Before Sherm came along, it was Dave Brown and everyone else a distant second.  Now, if I’m going by any cornerback who has ever put on a Seahawks uniform, then I’m looking at either Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell over Trufant in a heartbeat (gun to my head:  I probably pick Maxwell because he can play inside and outside corner spots).  BUT, Trufant had a Ring Of Honor career in his own right, and Maxwell will only have a year and change as a starter before he moves on to another team (as the Seahawks surely won’t be able to afford to extend him).  And, not for nothing, but Trufant in his prime was as good as any other corner, so I don’t feel SO bad putting him third on this list.  Nevertheless, if the Seahawks do somehow find a way to squeeze blood from a stone and extend Maxwell, I’m coming back to this page and revising it immediately!

Safety

2011:  Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson
2014:  Earl Thomas, Kenny Easley, Kam Chancellor

If I’m being 100% honest, I’m probably not splitting up Earl & Kam if I’m starting up this team.  But, I know I’m not the only one who wonders just what it would look like if Earl played alongside Kenny in his prime.  SICK!

Special Teams

2011:  Norm Johnson (Kicker), Rick Tuten (Punter), Steve Broussard (KR), Nate Burleson (PR)
2014:  Steven Hauschka (Kicker), Jon Ryan (Punter), Leon Washington (KR), Nate Burlson (PR)

I hope I’m not totally jinxing things, but I’m taking Hauschka as my all-time kicker.  Jon Ryan is sort of a no-brainer (he is, after all, the MVP of our hearts).  Leon Washington, while short in his time with us, made a HUGE impact (plus, let’s face it, the Seahawks don’t have a long and storied history with kickoff returners; also, Percy Harvin can suck it).  And the challengers to Nate Burleson’s throne never quite did enough (in this case, Joey Galloway – who didn’t last long as a return man – and Golden Tate – who was awesome, but is no longer with us, and wasn’t quite as dynamic).

So, there you have it.  A blog post for Thursday.  Giddyup.

The Greatest Seahawks First Round Draft Picks Of All Time

In honor of the Seattle Seahawks not having a draft pick last night, I decided to go through all the drafts and rank all the best Seahawks first rounders. 

I don’t want to shock you, but there are Hall of Famers on this list!  There are some Ring of Honor folks, there are some good players, there are some guys still playing, and there are busts.  A whole lotta busts.  And not-busts who are just sorta sub-par.  You get the idea.

I didn’t totally discredit what these players may have done once they left the team, but I weighted heavily their time in Seattle.  For the record, there are people I’ve never heard of on this list, as well as people I don’t remember very well (because who remembers offensive linemen from teams they followed when they were five?), so don’t expect the most thorough of analysis.  Just sit back and bask at how much you disagree with my order.

The Hall of Famers

1.  Walter Jones (1997, #6 overall)
2.  Cortez Kennedy (1990, #3 overall)

You know me (no, you don’t), I love me some Tez.  That guy was right behind Steve Largent for my Most Favorite Football Player Of All Time pretty much since he won Defensive Player of the Year back in the day 1992.  But, Walter Jones is Walter Jones.  Cortez Kennedy is a Hall of Famer, but Walter Jones might be the best who has ever played his position.  He’s a legend.  And if you don’t think he’s a legend, go look up some stories about his off-season training regimen.  How many guys do you know who go around pulling cars to get in football shape?

The Ring of Honor-ers

3.  Shaun Alexander (2000, #19 overall)
4.  Jacob Green (1980, #10 overall)
5.  Kenny Easley (1981, #4 overall)

Shaun Alexander is the best running back to ever put on a Seahawks uniform.  He was an MVP, he set the single-season touchdown record (until it was broken by LDT the very next year), and he led us to a Super Bowl.  THAT’S why he’s ranked ahead of the other two.  Jacob Green is the career sacks leader in team history.  And Kenny Easley is one of the greatest safeties in league history.  Had he not been injured, he would’ve been in the Hall of Fame.  Easily.

Next-Tier, Really Good Players

6.  Steve Hutchinson (2001, #17 overall)
7.  Marcus Trufant (2003, #11 overall)
8.  Jeff Bryant (1982, #6 overall)
9.  John L. Williams (1986, #15 overall)
10.  Curt Warner (1983, #3 overall)
11.  Joey Galloway (1995, #8 overall)
12.  Earl Thomas (2010, #14 overall)

I can’t imagine Hutch ever making the Ring of Honor, simply because he played elsewhere for longer than he played for Seattle.  Though, had Ruskell not fucked things up so royally, Hutch would’ve been on the inside track and probably would’ve landed at #3 on this list.  Good going, stupid.

People are kind of down on Marcus Trufant because he’s old and washed up, but you have to remember that for most of a decade he was a quality starter for this team.  Right out of college!  Remember all those shitty secondaries that were run out there by Ruskell?  Well, don’t lump Trufant into that group, because he was the only thing holding the back end of our defense together!

Jeff Bryant was another quality starter for our defensive line through most of the 80s.  He and Jacob Green really tormented opposing quarterbacks.  Bryant lands at 3rd all time in sacks.

We can argue John L. Williams and Curt Warner’s spots on this list until the cows come home.  Curt Warner had 6,705 rushing hards, good for third on the Seahawks career rushing list.  And that’s WITH all his injuries that drastically shortened his career!  I mean, let’s face it, Warner is in the Ring of Honor and Williams is not.  Do the Seahawks know more about this than I do?  Probably, but here’s my rationale for putting John L. ahead of Curt.  Yes, Mr. Warner is third all time rushing.  But, John L. is fourth, with 4,579 rushing yards.  And don’t forget, John L. Williams was one of those hybrid fullbacks who could run you the ball, could block for you, and who caught a lot of passes.  471 to be precise, for 4,151 yards (6th all time).  If we’re talking total yardage, then we’re talking John L. Williams – 8,730, Curt Warner – 8,172.  Advantage:  me.

Joey Galloway was a firecracker when he hit the scene in 1995.  He would’ve been a surefire Ring of Honor guy too had he been willing to play ball and not hold out on Holmgren.  We ended up trading him, and he ended up having a nice little career for himself.  Injuries prevented him from really breaking some records, but his longevity was impressive considering what he was forced to play through.

Earl Thomas is a curious choice to have so high on this list, considering he has only played three seasons.  But, I’m giving him a little extra juice because I fully expect him to be great.  Also, not for nothing, but you’ll see why he’s so high as we get to the rest of the names.

Good Guys With Better Careers After Leaving Seattle

13.  Pete Kendall (1996, #21 overall)
14.  Sam Adams (1994, #8 overall)
15.  Shawn Springs (1997, #3 overall)

Pete Kendall played his first five years in Seattle and played pretty well along our line.  He was never a Pro Bowl guy, but paired with Walter Jones, he really helped improve this team’s running game.  Then again, who knows?  Maybe Walter Jones just made him look better than he really was.  Either way, he went on to Arizona and seemed to improve.  I think his three years as a Cardinal were better than any he had as a Seahawk.  He would go on to finish his career with the Jets and Redskins, playing many more years as a non-Seahawk than a Seahawk.

To be honest, I remember Sam Adams having all the potential in the world when we drafted him.  I also remember him largely being a disappointment.  I wouldn’t call him that; I like the guy.  I’ve got one of his old practice jerseys signed by him; I think he’s great.  But, you can’t deny the fact that he really stepped his game up once he left Seattle and started playing for Baltimore.  He was a Pro Bowler both seasons he was in a Ravens uniform.  And, oh yeah, he helped them win a Super Bowl with one of the best defenses of all time.

Shawn Springs had a couple of good seasons with the Seahawks, but he wasn’t worthy of hanging on to for the duration of his career.  I seem to remember him having a bigger impact with the Redskins than with the Seahawks, even if the numbers don’t necessarily bare that out.

Linemen!  (Both offensive & defensive, so leave me alone)

16.  Tony Woods (1987, #18 overall)
17.  Russell Okung (2010, #6 overall)
18.  Steve August (1977, #14 overall)
19.  Andy Heck (1989, #15 overall)
20.  Ray Roberts (1992, #10 overall)

Right here, we’re talking about guys who were starters, who were fairly productive, but who were never superstars.  The exception might be Okung, who has a lot of room to climb this list as long as he stays healthy and keeps his production up.

Old Guys I Know Next-To-Nothing About

21.  Terry Taylor (1984, #22 overall)
22.  Keith Simpson (1978, #9 overall)
23.  Manu Tuiasosopo (1979, #18 overall)

I went and looked them up on Pro Football Reference and I STILL have no idea who these people are or what they did for the Seahawks.  I know what Manu did for the Huskies, he fathered one of the greatest Husky quarterbacks of all time.  Good for you!

Disappointments

24.  Anthony Simmons (1998, #15 overall)
25.  Koren Robinson (2001, #9 overall)
26.  Rick Mirer (1993, #2 overall)
27.  Chris Spencer (2005, #26 overall)
28.  Kelly Jennings (2006, #31 overall)
29.  Jerramy Stevens (2002, #28 overall)

These are players who flashed some potential, but ultimately didn’t live up to the hype.  I always remember liking Simmons, and lamenting he couldn’t stay on the field.  I also forgot that he was a first round pick.  We all know about Koren Robinson.  He’s the guy who drank and drugged his way out of the league, right?  I don’t really care enough to look it up to confirm; all I know is that he was supposed to be a stud receiver for us and he wasn’t.  Mirer was the pick just AFTER Drew Bledsoe, who was drafted by the Patriots (who were also 2-14 in 1992).  Why was he drafted by the Patriots?  Because the Seahawks BEAT the Patriots, thereby giving the tie-breaker for the #1 overall pick to New England.  Spencer was supposed to lock down the center position for us for a decade; he did not.  Jennings was a joke, but he started for us because this team was incapable of finding anyone better.  The less said about Jerramy Stevens the better (because I hate that guy).

Hopefully NOT A Bust

30.  Bruce Irvin (2012, #15 overall)

He had a fine rookie season with 8 sacks.  Is that the best we’re ever going to get from him?  Or, will he explode for double-digits pretty soon?  It could go either way and it wouldn’t surprise me.  He could be a fast-climber on this list too if he plays his cards right.

A Supplemental Bust

31.  Brian Bosworth (1987 Supplemental Draft, #28.5 overall)

This guy, QUITE the character.  If you have a few hours to spare, I’d recommend reading his biography.  If you like The Boz, then I’d recommend NOT watching that 30 for 30 featuring Bo Jackson.  Because The Boz looks like The Bitch.

Injury Plagued

32.  Steve Niehaus (1976, #2 overall)
33.  Marcus Tubbs (2004, #23 overall)
34.  James Carpenter (2011, #25 overall)

The Seahawks entered the league at the same time as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Bucs received the #1 overall pick.  That, and a lot of weird happenstance, has resulted in the Seahawks never having the #1 overall pick.  Ever.  Steve Niehaus was the first player drafted in franchise history and he was largely injured for his brief career.  Tubbs was a force on the inside during our Super Bowl run.  But, he got injured and never recovered.  He played in 29 games over 3 seasons and was out of the league.  Carpenter is a 2-year vet and he has finished both of his first two seasons on the IR.  Not a good sign.  Here’s to 2013 being where he turns his career around.

The Huge Busts

35.  Lawrence Jackson (2008, #28 overall)
36.  Aaron Curry (2009, #4 overall)
37.  Lamar King (1999, #22 overall)
38.  Chris McIntosh (2000, #22 overall)

L0-Jack was a microcosm of the Tim Ruskell years.  His inability to draft quality players in the lower half of the first round doomed this team.  Many other teams are able to find starters in the second and/or third rounds.  It would stand to reason, then, that you SHOULD be able to find a starter with the 28th overall pick in the first round.  Think again.

Because of all the shitty drafting, the Seahawks found themselves the very next year with the #4 overall pick.  Aaron Curry was the “safest” pick on the board and we all looked at him to dominate for years to come.  He did nothing of the sort and ultimately got Ruskell’s ass fired.

Mike Holmgren’s first couple drafts resulted in a couple of terrible players.  Lamar King was just a bad pick any way you slice it.  McIntosh was supposed to be good, but he couldn’t stay healthy (and was soon replaced by Steve Hutchinson).  Put them together, and you wonder how the Seahawks ever turned their fortunes around under Holmgren.

The Very Worst First Round Draft Pick In Seahawks History

39.  Dan McGwire (1991, #16 overall)

This doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation.  Rest assured, it’s picks like this and Mirer two years later that doomed this franchise to the wilderness for the entirety of the 1990s.

Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings

Editor’s NoteThis is the original blog post.  If you want to see the comprehensive list, click HERE.  I update the master list semi-regularly, whenever I can find the time.

You don’t become a city that’s gone 32 years (and counting) between professional sports championships without a little help along the way.  I don’t know everything there is to know about all the other cities with pro teams; hell, I don’t even know everything there is to know about Seattle’s sports history … but I have to figure we’re at least in the top two as far as player personnel incompetence is concerned.

The following is a timeline of all the botched trades, busted draft picks, and lousy free agent signings that have befallen this city, at least since I started becoming a sports fan.  I’m gonna throw this thing in the ol’ menu bar at the top and the plan is to update it continuously.  Obviously, it’ll never be complete, so I thoroughly encourage any suggestions.

April 28, 1987 – (Seahawks) – Brian Bosworth, 1st Round Supplemental Draft Pick:  the Seahawks went big on the defensive side of the ball in this draft, highlighted by the pick of Brian Bosworth out of Oklahoma at the end of the 1st round (I don’t know what happened to the Supplemental Round draft picks, so don’t look to me for an explanation here).  I don’t know what it says about Bosworth, but the Seahawks also went after the linebacker position right before and after The Boz, with Tony Woods and David Wyman.  It says all that needs to be said, however, that both of those guys would have better professional careers.  But, did either of those guys star in “Stone Cold“?  I think I rest my case.

April 23, 1988 – (Seahawks) – Undisclosed Draft Picks to Phoenix Cardinals for Kelly Stouffer:  it’s difficult to peg down exactly which picks we gave up to get this stiff, but rest assured that Kelly Stouffer was the beginning of the end for the Seahawks.  We got a taste of glory in the 80s under Chuck Knox, with Dave Krieg at the helm and Steve Largent breaking all the receiving records later to be broken by Jerry Rice.  But, as we looked to a new decade, it was apparent that Quarterback would be a position of need that we needed to fill.  Starting with Stouffer, culminating with Rick Mirer, and still unsettled until Matt Hasselbeck took charge late in the 2002 season, the Seahawks were a blind franchise in an unforgiving wilderness for the entirety of the 1990s.  All you need to know about Kelly Stouffer is that he held out his rookie season with the Cardinals due to a contract dispute.  Then, the Seahawks tried to trade local legend Kenny Easley to get him, except Easley couldn’t pass the physical due to failing kidneys.  We finally got our man, only to find out our man was good for a mere 2,333 yards in 22 games over 4 seasons, with 7 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

April 21, 1991 – (Seahawks) – Dan McGwire, 1st Round Draft Pick:  17 picks later, the Atlanta Falcons would select future Hall of Famer Brett Favre.  Little known fact:  Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox WANTED to draft Brett Favre.  Unfortunately, the Seahawks brass couldn’t be bothered with such matters, instead finding McGwire’s 6 foot 8 inch frame to be simply irresistible.  Our “Quarterback of the Future” ended his Seahawks career after the 1994 season having thrown for 745 yards in 12 games with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

April 25, 1993 – (Seahawks) – Rick Mirer, 1st Round Draft Pick:  we’ll always remember this as our golden opportunity to grab Drew Bledsoe first overall.  Unfortunately, in week 3 of the 1992 season (on our way to a 2-14 finish), the Seahawks just HAD to go into New England and beat the Patriots 10-6 (who would also go on to finish 2-14).  The Pats had the Number 1 pick as a result, and we settled for Rick Mirer.  It should be noted that this was a particularly brutal year for incoming quarterbacks; though if we’d been a little patient, there was a 5th rounder by the name of Mark Brunell who was grabbed by the Packers and went on to bigger and better things with the Jaguars.  Rick Mirer, on the other hand, ended his 4-year Seahawks career with 41 touchdowns and 56 interceptions, getting worse each and every year.  On a positive note, one of the best trades in franchise history involved us unloading Mirer to the Bears for a first round pick we would use to trade up and get Shawn Springs.  So, it’s hard to hate on the guy TOO much.

December 10, 1993 – (Mariners) – Mike Hampton & Mike Felder to Houston Astros for Eric Anthony:  think Mike Hampton would’ve been a nice pitcher to have on all those pitching-starved teams of the late 90s?  No, I don’t remember Eric Anthony either.

December 20, 1993 – (Mariners) – Omar Vizquel to Cleveland Indians for Felix Fermin & Reggie Jefferson:  honestly, I don’t know WHAT we were thinking on this one.  But, just 10 days after we made Mike Hampton a throw-in to a deal, we gave up Little-O for the equivalent of TWO throw-ins.  Neither of whom would ever make a dent.  That’s a bad fortnight for the Seattle Mariners.

February 25, 1994 – (Seahawks) – Nate Odomes signs 4-year, $8.4 million deal:  I know the money doesn’t sound like a lot NOW, but back then that was a hefty price, especially for a cornerback.  But, Odomes was one of the best while he played for the Bills.  He was a Pro Bowler in ’92 and ’93, he had 19 interceptions from ’91-’93, and he was a guy other teams had to throw away from!  Then, a few months later, he blew out his knee in a charity basketball game, missed all of 1994.  THEN, he re-injured the same knee in training camp and missed all of 1995!  We had him for 2 seasons, he never played a down for us, and ended up walking away with $4+ million.  The long, lost, forgotten Seahawk Nate Odomes might go down as the worst free agent signing in team history.

December 7, 1995 – (Mariners) – Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir & Jeff Nelson to New York Yankees for Sterling Hitchcock & Russ Davis:  *sigh*.  So, we traded a first baseman in the beginning of his prime, and one of the best set-up men of the next DECADE for a couple of AAAA guys with huge flaws to their game.  Hitchcock would forever be a disappointment, and Russ Davis would go on to be one of the worst defensive third basemen I’ve ever seen.  I don’t care what anyone says, ultimately for what we gave away, this trade only rivals the Lowe/Varitek debacle for most completely idiotic in team history.

September 13, 1996 – (Mariners) – David Arias to Minnesota Twins for Dave Hollins:  we all know him as David Ortiz, and in 1996 we had him in our farm system.  I guess we all know what the Twins saw in him; too bad we didn’t see the same, otherwise maybe we wouldn’t have had this revolving door at first base and DH ever since Edgar and Olerud retired.

July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek to Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb:  here we are, the mother of all bad trades.  Now, these two may not have been hall of famers, but they’re legends in Boston since they both helped to bring a world championship to town in 2004.  Meanwhile, Heathcliff Slocumb was the BEST we could do at the time?  We knew he was crap when we got him, yet HE was all we could get???  My fondest memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was when I was in the Kingdome as we clinched the AL West later that season.  My least fond memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was every time I saw a Red Sox game with Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek.

July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Jose Cruz Jr. to Toronto Blue Jays for Paul Spoljaric & Mike Timlin:  do you know what kind of disaster area the Seattle Mariners bullpen was in 1997?  It single-handedly caused Woody Woodward to lose his fucking mind at the trading deadline.  On the same day he would make the single worst Mariners trade ever, he also shipped off highly-touted prospect (probably the highest touting since A-Rod) for two pieces of dog meat.  On the one hand, could you blame him?  I mean, Norm Charlton and Bobby Ayala led the team in appearances that year with 71(!) apiece.  Of course, on the other hand, Woody Woodward was a huge dope on this day, a day that will live on in infamy.

2000 – (Seahawks) – Ahman Green & 5th Round Pick to Green Bay Packers for Fred Vinson & 6th Round Pick:  can’t seem to lock down an official date for this one, but figure it was sometime before April 16th in the year 2000.  The late-round picks were a wash; neither worked out for either team.  However, Fred Vinson was a total bust while Ahman Green would go on to lead the Packers in rushing.  Granted, we still had Shaun Alexander, but we still should’ve gotten more for such a stud.

July 31, 2000 – (Mariners) – John Mabry & Tom Davey to San Diego Padres for Al Martin:  this trade isn’t necessarily bad for the guys we gave away; neither meant all that much to me personally, nor did they go on to have outstanding careers after they left.  But, this trade was the epitome of the Pat Gillick era in Seattle.  Pat Gillick was a brilliant baseball man who did wonderful things in Toronto in the early 90s (2 World Series championships) and he would go on to do wonderful things in Philly (2008 title).  But, in Seattle, it wasn’t in the cards, and it was because of trades like this.  Or, more accurately, the LACK of trades period.  I don’t hate Al Martin because he sucked.  I hate Al Martin because he wasn’t someone better.  Pat Gillick needed to go out and get us a quality bat, consequences be damned.  Instead, he got Al Martin and in the year 2000, the Seattle Mariners went nowhere.

December 16, 2001 – (Mariners) – Brian Fuentes, Jose Paniagua & Denny Stark to Colorado Rockies for Jeff Cirillo:  a couple months after we finished the regular season with the most wins in the modern era, we felt it necessary to keep on tinkering.  Forget the fact we probably could’ve used a starting pitcher more; we had to go out and get Jeff Cirillo – a guy who had shown he could hit in Coors Field and nowhere else.  A guy who, in spite of playing in such a bandbox, had a career high of only 17 homers the year before he came here.  What happened next?  Well, we stuck him in Safeco Field and he hit .234 over two seasons.  Just one of many National Leaguers we’ve brought to the American League over the years who absolutely fell off the map.

April 20, 2002 – (Seahawks) – Jerramy Stevens, 1st Round Draft Pick:  a loaded draft for the tight end position … and the Seahawks got Public Enemy #1.  Jerramy Stevens was a bust because you could argue he was the biggest reason we lost Super Bowl XL (I know that’s what I would argue, anyway).  But, forget all that.  He’s a bust plain and simple because he probably had more God-given ability than any other tight end in that draft (with Jeremy Shockey and Daniel Graham going before him; Chris Baker and Randy McMichael going after him), yet he squandered it all away because he couldn’t stay out of trouble and had the work-ethic of a wino on skid row.  He’s the only Husky I’ll forever hate, and on this day the Seahawks made a tremendous mistake.

March 4, 2004 – (Seahawks) – Grant Wistrom signs 6-year, $33 million deal:  and out of that we got 3 seasons before biting the bullet and cutting him.  He “earned” $21 million in that time; for our trouble we got back a whopping 11.5 sacks.  Or, just a little under $2 million per sack.  This was a signing you could easily loathe from the beginning.  After it was all said and done, we traded in for a younger version of the white defensive end:  Patrick Kerney.  But, Wistrom was by FAR the worse of the two.

June 27, 2004 – (Mariners) – Freddy Garcia & Ben Davis to Chicago White Sox for Jeremy Reed, Mike Morse & Miguel Olivo:  it was the right time to trade the Chief, his stock would never be higher again and we were in the midst of a total organizational meltdown.  2004 was the beginning of a long slide into futility for the Mariners; what we needed at the time were some prospects who could come in and lift us back to prominence.  Olivo was supposed to be our catcher of the future, Reed was supposed to lock down left field for the next decade, and Mike Morse should’ve been a solid utility guy.  Instead, Olivo was (and still is) a dud, Reed never panned out, and Morse has always turned into a pumpkin whenever the calendar flips to April.

February 23, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Steve Hutchinson assigned Transition Tag:  this was the beginning of the end for Tim Ruskell.  The Seahawks saved a little less than $600,000 in cap room, but in the process initiated one of the most notorious swindles in recent memory.  One month later, Hutchinson would be a Minnesota Viking thanks to their Poison Pill-laced contract, and the Seahawks would descend into the abyss thanks to a below-average offensive line.  For a team that had just made its first Super Bowl thanks to that very amazing offensive line, losing Hutch would be heartbreaking.  And it would also lead to one of the more hilarious retaliatory signings ever.

March 20, 2006 – (Mariners) – Matt Thornton to Chicago White Sox for Joe Borchard:  an eye for talent:  Bill Bavasi lacked it.  Joe Borchard sounds like a name that would suck at baseball.  Matt Thornton, meanwhile, has been a pretty lockdown reliever for the Sox ever since.  Too bad he never made good on any of his promise while a Mariner.

March 24, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Nate Burleson signs 7-year, $49 million deal:  granted, it would turn out that Burleson never got anything approaching $49 million (that was the Poison Pill number we put on to rub it in Minnesota’s face), but essentially Burleson was a huge trade-down compared to what we lost in Steve Hutchinson.  It’s not an unforgivable signing; Nate was a highly productive return man and a moderately productive receiver.  But, we’ll never be able to separate Nate’s signing from Hutch’s loss.

June 30, 2006 – (Mariners) – Asdrubal Cabrera to Cleveland Indians for Eduardo Perez:  BAVASI!!!!  Hold on, it gets better …

July 26, 2006 – (Mariners) – Shin-Soo Choo to Cleveland Indians for Ben Broussard:  my best guess is that Bavasi was secretly on the Indians’ payroll in 2006.

September 11, 2006 – (Seahawks) – 1st Round Pick in 2007 to New England Patriots for Deion Branch:  the draft pick turned into Brandon Meriweather, who made two Pro Bowls.  Deion Branch signed a lucrative 6-year, $39 million contract with the Seahawks and proceeded to be a collosal disappointment until he was finally traded back to the Patriots in 2010 and everyone in Seattle rejoiced.  End result:  a 1st round pick for a 4th round pick, ye gods!

December 7, 2006 – (Mariners) – Rafael Soriano to Atlanta Braves for Horacio Ramirez:  just a stellar cap to a 2006 calendar year for Bill Bavasi.  Why he was allowed to run the club for the next season and a half is beyond me.

February 8, 2008 – (Mariners) – Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio & Tony Butler to Baltimore Orioles for Erik Bedard:  at the time, I could defend this one; then we realized what we got in Erik Bedard.  So many injuries.  So many millions for nary a game played.  Somehow, Bedard is still here, but he’ll never be the guy who was worth five prospects.  Meanwhile, Adam Jones looks like he’s got a long, successful career in him.  Still, this isn’t the worst trade ever – as it’s said to be in many circles.  But, it’s pretty bad.

March 2, 2009 – (Seahawks) – T.J. Houshmandzadeh signs 5-year, $40 million deal:  and by September of 2010, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was cut.  What we’ll always remember about Housh are his 3 touchdowns over his lone season with the team, and of course, his tantrums and tirades over not getting the ball thrown his way enough.  Of course, there’s the $6+ million we paid him just to go away.  We signed him in hopes of getting a Number 1 receiver, failing to recognize his declining skills and utter inability to go down and catch the deep ball.  Live and learn, I guess.

All Time Seahawks Greats Part II

Again, for your information, I’m robbing this idea from Seahawks.com.  I thought a fan-voted poll was interesting and was curious how spot-on they were.  I also wanted to see if I could pick a Blue & Green Dream Second Team … but eventually lost interest in trying to find the NEXT five best offensive linemen.

Also, for your information, I’m getting all forthcoming stats and information from this site.  Right or wrong, LEROY JENKINS!

The fans certainly got our Devensive Ends correct.  Jacob Green had 97.5 official sacks (though, unofficially he had well over 100, since sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982).  Michael Sinclair is Number 2 on our list with 73.5 sacks.  Sinclair played for some tremendous defenses who racked up an ungodly amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

After those two, if I were putting together a Second team, long-time Jacob Green teammate Jeff Bryant would be first on my list.  He had 63 sacks, good for #3 on the list.  After that, I’d have to bypass all the DTs and OLBs on our total sacks list.  I’d also bypass the HELL out of Patrick Kerney and probably go with Sinclair teammate Phillip Daniels.  He was here for a brief period (not NEARLY as brief and injury-plagued as Kerney), but he was a beast opposite Sinclair.  Mostly, he was a casualty of the salary cap; he got a better deal from the Chicago Bears and continued with a solid NFL career.

Defensive Tackle is probably our best overall position on the team.  Should-be Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy (and reason why our defense changed from the 3-4 we had throughout the 80s to the 4-3 we’ve employed to this day) is paired up with longtime fan-favorite (and ultimate field goal blocking specialist) Joe Nash.  I can’t say ENOUGH good things about these two guys.  If Largent is my favorite all-time football player, then Cortez is my favorite all-time defensive player.  I’ve loved that guy since the moment he joined this team; cemented by his Defensive Player Of The Year Award in 1992 (the only bright spot in our very worst season as a franchise).  Tez ended up 4th on our all-time sacks list with 58, in SPITE of constant double and sometimes triple-teams!  If he played anywhere else, he’d be in the Hall of Fame by now.  Since he played for the Seahawks (and since we were so bad in that stretch from 1990 to 2000), he’s finding it a struggle.  The NFL should be ashamed if this class act doesn’t get in, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Not for nothin’, but Joe Nash is 6th on our sacks list.  He played from 1982 thru 1996 and somewhere in that stretch he had the team record for consecutive games played (since broken by steady offensive lineman Chris Gray).

As for the Second Team, I couldn’t have more quality guys to choose from.  Don’t forget who drafted Sam Adams before he went on to glory in Baltimore.  Don’t forget John Randle made an immediate impact in his brief stint with the team.  Don’t forget about Rocky Bernard, who was absolutely INTEGRAL in our Super Bowl run!  And I know it’s early, but if Mebane re-signs, we’re likely to see him as well climb this ladder of elite DTs.  I know I have to choose two here, and I’m telling you right now, Rocky Bernard IS one of them!  That brings us to Adams and Randle.  I know we had Randle at the tail-end of his Hall of Fame career, but he was still playing at a very high level.  Then again, Sam Adams would REALLY be the stout, run-stuffing nose tackle type my Second Team would need.  Fuck, this is hard.  And, I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s kinda bullshit!  I mean, hell, what NFL team doesn’t have at LEAST a 3-man Defensive Tackle rotation?  I’ll keep Adams and Bernard in there on 1st down; then swap out Adams for Randle on 3rd down when we need QB pressure!  Done and done.

OK, so Linebacker is where things are getting a little hairy.  The Website picked 4 linebackers, I guess a nod to the 3-4 defense we used to play.  If I were going to pick just 3 linebackers, then I’d have to say the fans are right on with their choices of Lofa Tatupu, Chad Brown, and Rufus Porter.  Lofa’s a born leader and a destructive influence in the middle for other teams.  Rufus, remember, was a sack master coming off the edge for us.  And Chad Brown, surprise surprise, is our leading overall tackler at the position.*

* I should point out here that Pro Football Reference for some reason didn’t keep good track of tackle numbers.  For instance, the 4th linebacker fans chose – Fredd Young, who played with us from ’84 – ’87 – doesn’t have ANY tackles.  I find that hard to believe.

Look, I don’t remember much, if anything, of Fredd Young’s Seahawks career.  I remember his 1988 Topps football card, and I remember him going to the Indianapolis Colts that very same year.  Apparently, he was a Pro Bowler; I dunno.  He IS a name I recognize, which is more than I can say for the slim pickin’s I have for Second Team Linebacker.

Off the bat, my instincts tell me Terry Wooden is a guy I should have.  I remember him as a steady, non-flashy kind of guy who wouldn’t miss many tackles (indeed, he’s #5 on our all-time list).  On the other side, I guess we’d have to look at #6, Tony Woods.  He played fewer seasons, but managed to put up some decent numbers.  And, if I had to go MLB, I guess I’d look at Dave Wyman?  #14 on all-time tackles list, I guess he’s a warm body.  Honorable Mention to Julian Peterson, who was a casualty of a regime change and a first round draft pick.  If memory serves, he was just cut by the Lions, which has to be a slap to the face of a very good career.  But, I wasn’t all that broken up about his leaving in the first place; he did little to really WOW us here.  Few more sacks couldn’t have hurt.

As for the Cornerbacks, I have nothing to add here.  Marcus Trufant and Dave Brown are our starters, with Shawn Springs as a nickel back.  I won’t dignify this position with selecting a second team.

Same kinda goes for Safeties; how am I EVER going to get anywhere NEAR the quality of Strong Safety Kenny Easley and Free Safety Eugene Robinson?  I guess Robert Blackmon should probably get an honorable mention here, but I can’t even remember if he was a Safety or a Corner and I’m too lazy and indifferent to look online and confirm!

Rounding off our All Time Seahawks Team, we have the Special Teams.

Kicker – Norm Johnson, Punter – Rick Tuten, Kick-Off Returner Steve Broussard, Punt Returner Nate Burleson.

Can’t argue with ol’ Norm, so I’ll make my Second Team choice Josh Brown over Todd Peterson.  Brown was Mr. Automatic while he was here, and the only reason we despise him so much for going to a division rival is because he’s the best kicker in the division.

You know what’s cool about the Kicker position, though?  We’ve almost NEVER had a bad kicker in my lifetime.  We had Norm from ’82 thru ’90, then an all-NFL great John Kasay from ’91 thru ’94 (before he decided to play closer to home in Carolina), then Peterson from ’95 thru ’99, then just a bit of a down spell with Rian Lindell from 2000 thru ’02, then back with Josh Brown from ’03 thru ’07 and Olindo Mare’s prowess ever since.  All in all, a very strong position for us.

Rick Bootin’ Tuten is by FAR our best punter, during a period where all we DID was punt!  I’ll take the ageless wonder Jeff Feagles for my Second Team.

Indeed, Steve Broussard DID have the most kickoff return yards in franchise history, but I’m going another direction here altogether:  Leon Washington.  Yes yes, I know, how can I have a problem with John Carlson being the Top Tight End having been here only 3 seasons, while saying Leon is our best kickoff returner after just 1?  Well, I’ll tell ya!  Do you know what our franchise record was for most kickoff returns for a touchdown was before 2010?  1, a record tied by 8 other guys.  INCLUDING Mr. Broussard over his 165 returns in four seasons.  Leon had 3, all in one year!  And, among guys with 50 or more returns, Leon is tops in average yards per return with 25.6 (Broussard, meanwhile, averaged 2 yards fewer per return).

And yes, Nate has our record for most punt return yardage, but there are a couple guys I like more.  Charlie Rogers is #3 on our list, but he had a higher per-return average.  I think, though, if I’m picking MY Second Team, then I’m going with Joey Galloway.  He has our team record of 4 punt return touchdowns and was ALWAYS a huge threat to take it to the house.  Anyone who saw his return against Jacksonville will testify that Galloway was an absolute monster in the open field.

Overall, though, I think the fans did a good job on this list.  11 guys from the New Era of great Seahawks teams in the ’00s, 15 guys from the Golden Age of good Seahawks teams in the ’80s, and 3 guys from our underachieving ’90s teams.

Walter Jones: An Appreciation of #71

A legend is retiring today.

You can’t say that very often, but in the world of professional football – especially for those of us who cheer on the Seahawks – you can say that about Walter Jones and still it would be an understatement.

My memory is shot, so I don’t really recall a whole lot about the 1997 NFL Draft, except the Seahawks had two picks in the top 10. Meaning we were, again, terrible the year before. And also that we fleeced someone – I believe it was the Bears, for Rick Mirer – for the other pick.

Apparently, we selected Shawn Springs with the 3rd pick; who was supposed to be a lock-down corner out of Ohio State, but inevitably underwhelmed even as he went to Pro Bowls, until finally injuries and steroid suspensions marred his career with the Seahawks.

With the 6th pick, we selected Walter Jones out of Florida State. The thing I remember most about this draft is that the St. Louis Rams drafted Orlando Pace 1st overall. It was Pace who was seen as the greatest Left Tackle in the draft, and it was Pace who ultimately overshadowed Jones for half their careers.

Indeed, Pace is a hall of famer. Indeed, Pace was one of the greatest Left Tackles of all time.

But, somewhere along the way, probably as the Seahawks improved overall as a team, the focus shifted to Big Walt. Yes, as the century flipped, the Rams were dominating with their offense, going to Super Bowls and whatnot. But, quietly, tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, here was Walter Jones. Dominating.

That’s a word you hear a lot about Walter Jones: quiet. O-Linemen for the most part don’t say a whole lot. They’re bred to be quiet leaders. Talk through their actions and so forth. Even still, Walter Jones didn’t NEED to say anything. The look of dejection and frustration on the faces of all who tried to get through him said enough.

Two of the things I most fondly remember about Walter Jones include the mental image of him, in the offseason, in his hometown somewhere in Alabama (I think), strapping a car to his body and pulling it around. Who needs a weight room when you can tie a car to your shoulders and mush like a pancaking, 300+ pound mule?

The other thing I remember is him, doing that, while year-after-year holding out of training camp in dispute-after-dispute with management over yet another year being Franchised. Eventually, he signed a long-term deal, and was forced to muck it up with the rest of the team in July and August. But, in those years he was at home in Alabama training, he’d ALWAYS step right in before the regular season started and perform at such a high level. Who needs practice and two-a-days when you’ve got the raw natural ability of the best player in the game?

With all the transition that goes on with any NFL team each and every year, Walter Jones was the one constant we as Seahawks fans could always count on. “Off-Tackle Left” was always a play we could run when it was 3rd and Short late in the game. Matt Hasselbeck’s (and a slew of also-rans) blind side would always be accounted for as long as Walter Jones was protecting him.

And, you can see, over the better part of the last couple years, what his presence meant when he was too injured to play. Our offensive line production was one of the worst in the NFL.

And speaking of “too injured to play”, rarely could that be said about Walter Jones. The man endured the brunt of an unthinkable beating game after game, season after season, and always came back to the line ready to excel like no one before who’d played the position. He didn’t just play through pain, he lived through pain.

If Orlando Pace joins Walter Jones this offseason in opting to retire, I fully expect both of these men to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame the instant they’re eligible. But, if for whatever reason only one ends up making it in their first try, it had better be Big Walt. Because the man IS a legend. And he deserves to be honored as such.