Sad news over the weekend, for Seahawks fans, and real hardcore NFL fans (as well as, obviously, his friends and family and former players and whatnot), as Chuck Knox passed away from complications related to dementia.
He’s currently the 2nd-winningest head coach in Seahawks history (behind Mike Holmgren, and just ahead of Pete Carroll, who should pass both of them in 2018, if he can just get us to 8-8), and the 10th-winningest head coach in NFL history. There were lots of stories about how tough his teams were, and how he won at all three stops he made in his tenure in the league, but the story as it relates to Seahawks fans has to do with all those teams in the 80s that captivated the Pacific Northwest, in ways having only been surpassed (at the time) by the Supersonics of the late 70s and the Husky football teams since the dawn of time.
The 1983 Seahawks went 9-7, secured one of the two wild card spots, and went all the way to the AFC Championship on the back of a couple upset victories against the John Elway-led Broncos and the Dan Marino-led Dolphins in Miami, before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Raiders.
We parlayed that into a 12-4 season the very next year, another wild card berth (thanks to the fucking Broncos going 13-3), and some revenge over those Raiders in the wild card round, before falling to the Dolphins in Miami (who would go on to lose in the Super Bowl to the 49ers, in Dan Marino’s only appearance in the big game).
It’s a testament to Chuck Knox and the physicality of his Seahawks teams that we were able to do so much with some pretty average quarterbacks. Jim Zorn and later Dave Krieg were really propped up by an elite running game and a hall of famer at wide receiver, Steve Largent (the best receiver to have ever played the game until Jerry Rice entered the league).
I didn’t really become a Seahawks fan until after those glory years, sometime around 1986, 1987, and especially 1988 (as I was 5, 6, and 7 years old, respectively). So, the bulk of my Seahawks memories were forged in the Ken Behring years. My memories of Chuck Knox were ones of respecting the man, but frustrated at all the losing and mediocrity. I would later learn, that had this franchise been run by someone halfway competent – and not someone who just wanted to run this team out of town – we could’ve drafted Brett Favre when he came out of college. The 1990s might’ve looked VERY different had that been the case.
For one thing, you figure Knox would’ve stuck around beyond the 1991 season. I believe he was so disenchanted with the whole organization that he couldn’t stick around, which is what led to us bottoming out in 1992 under Tom Flores, followed by us drafting Rick Mirer and continuing to be the height of disappointment for the rest of the decade until Mike Holmgren came around.
Can you imagine, though? The Seahawks with a different owner? Drafting Brett Favre? With Chuck Knox sticking around another 6-7 years or more? Maybe winning a Super Bowl or two, with his great running games and defenses anchoring a hall of famer at quarterback?
I’ll tell you what I believe: I believe we’d be talking about a hall of fame head coach in Chuck Knox and one of the top 4 or 5 winningest head coaches in NFL history! Mike Holmgren might never have become Mike Holmgren without Favre in Green Bay; maybe he would’ve ended up at another team. And, you figure when the 90s came to a close, and Knox was ready to hang ’em up, he probably would’ve had some unknown protege all lined up to succeed him. WHO KNOWS WHERE THE SEAHAWKS WOULD BE TODAY? Or, more importantly, how successful we could’ve become.
Chuck Knox was really one of the good ones. He’ll be missed by all longtime Seahawks fans.