We Lost The Tez

Respect …

Seattle has been hit pretty hard over the last week.  First, we lost Chris Cornell, who was an absolute titan of my youth, as superfans of the 90’s Seattle music scene don’t get much bigger than me, and now we’ve lost Cortez Kennedy, who died of unknown causes at the age of 48.

I’ll withhold any sort of rant until we get more information, but it doesn’t look good that Tez was complaining of headaches in the days leading up to his death.  The more this happens, the worse it’s ultimately going to be for the game of football.  I mean, we can’t have our superstars dying before the age of 50!  Everyone always says they were gone too soon whenever someone dies, but it actually means something when you’re only 48 years old.

I’ve been having a hard time keeping it together as I read all the tributes and well-wishes to him and his family the last day or so.  I’ll generally always root for guys who play for my team, but it’s nice to know that someone so great at football was also such a great person in life.  There are so many stupid fucking dickheads in the world, I forget sometimes that there’s a lot of goodness and kindness in the world too.

Growing up, Steve Largent was my favorite football player of all-time, but Cortez Kennedy quickly became my #2.  I was looking through the 1990 NFL Draft, wondering whatever became of the guys drafted around Tez (who was picked third by the Seahawks).  Jeff George was picked first by Indy, and he ended up being an explosive bust.  Kind of like a poor man’s Jay Cutler.  But, you know, you can understand why they grabbed him #1 overall.  Then, the Jets picked running back Blair Thomas with the second overall pick, and I had to laugh.  Thomas was out of the NFL by the end of the 1995 season, and you could argue he was part bust (injury-related) and part bust (coaching-related).  I mean, who drafts a running back #2 overall, then puts him in a 4-running back rotation?  That’s insane to me.

So far, there have been three other Hall of Famers to come out of the 1990 draft:  Junior Seau at #5 to the Chargers (also lost too soon, due to football-related brain issues), Emmitt Smith at #17 to the Cowboys, and Shannon Sharpe WAAAAY down at the second-to-last pick of the seventh round to the Broncos.  It’s pretty crazy that you could make a very good argument that Tez was the greatest 3-Tech Defensive Tackle of all time, Seau was the greatest Middle Linebacker of all time, Emmitt Smith was the greatest Running Back of all time, and Sharpe was the greatest Tight End of all time, all coming out in the same draft.

What was good for the NFL was also good for the Seahawks in that 1990 NFL Draft.  On top of Tez, the Seahawks got Terry Wooden, a starting outside linebacker, in the second round; Robert Blackmon, a starting strong safety, also in the second round; and Chris Warren, a starting running back, in the fourth round.  On top of some of the holdover talent, it’s mind-blowing that the Seahawks would be a 2-win team only two years later, but I guess that’s what happens when you neglect the quarterback position for so long.

Tez was truly in his prime from 1991-1996, when he made the Pro Bowl each of those six years, and was First Team All Pro in three of those years (from 1992-1994).  He had his 1997 season cut short due to injury, but bounced back for two more Pro Bowl seasons in 1998 & 1999.  He was more of a rotational guy under Mike Holmgren, particularly in his final year in 2000, and he only got to enjoy one playoff appearance (in 1999, in a loss to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins), but he was a Seahawk through and through.  For most of the 1990s, Tez was literally the only reason to ever watch a Seahawks game.  I take great pride – and I know he takes great pride – in the fact that he was a career Seahawk, even though he had multiple offers to play elsewhere as his career came to a close.

The best part of Tez’s game was that he wasn’t just a sacks guy.  He was a complete, all-around defensive tackle.  Yes, he got his share of sacks (14 in 1992, when he was Defensive Player of the Year), but I don’t remember EVER seeing an interior defensive lineman with the number of tackles that he’d get.  73 tackles in 1991, 92 (!) tackles in 1992, 77 tackes in 1993.  I mean, how do you even do that?  That’s on top of the fact that he was almost constantly double-teamed, because if you didn’t double-team him, he’d absolutely blow up every single play.  And, that’s on top of the fact that he rarely left the field.

A 3-down interior lineman with high sack totals AND high tackle numbers?  And you want to try to argue with me that he’s not one of the best 3-Tech DTs of all time?  Get the fuck off my planet!

I didn’t know the man, I was never lucky enough to meet him in person, but one of my favorite stories about him is the reason why Tez wore the number 99 in his DPOY season of 1992.  Earlier that year, his best friend (and fellow University of Miami alum) Jerome Brown died in a car crash.  Brown was drafted by the Eagles in 1987 and was also an interior defensive lineman.  He started off his career a bit slower than Tez, but in 1990 and 1991, he was First Team All Pro, and on the path towards the Hall of Fame.  Jerome Brown wore the number 99, so in honor of him, Tez wore that number for the 1992 season, when he absolutely tore apart the National Football League.  That’s the type of friend Tez was; that’s the type of person the world lost yesterday.

It wasn’t a given that the Tez would make the Hall of Fame, but it damn well should’ve been.  He had to wait a few years before he got his crack, and you could tell no one would appreciate it more than him.  I was beyond thrilled the day it was announced (the only way I could ever be happier is if Edgar makes it), because no one was more deserving of such accolades.  I’m just happy he was alive to experience it.

I’m beyond bummed out right now.  I encourage anyone reading this to go down a YouTube rabbit hole of Tez highlights.  You won’t be disappointed.

My favorite pic …

My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks

With Beastmode’s retirement this week, I thought I’d take stock and reflect upon where he lands among my all time favorite Seattle Seahawks.  While he’s my favorite over the last quarter century, he comes up just short of my all time fave.

I should probably point out that my knowledge of the Seahawks prior to the 1990s is pretty limited (I was born in 1981).  As such, you won’t find many of the old-timers.  Indeed, only 5 of my 25 played prior to 1990, and none of those five are named Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, or Curt Warner.  Zorn was a guy I never saw play, Warner was always hurt when I started watching football, and the years I watched Dave Krieg were those loser years where he heavily contributed to his standing as one of the most fumble-prone quarterbacks in NFL history.  If I never again see Dave Krieg raise his arm back to pass, only to watch in horror as the ball gets flung backwards thanks to his criminally under-sized hands, it’ll be too soon.

Among the actual Honorable Mentions are the following:

Ricky Watters – a guy who reminds me a lot of Beastmode, but unfortunately didn’t play with us quite long enough to merit breaking through; Chris Warren – very underrated back, who unfortunately was saddled by a lot of mediocre Seahawks teams; Eugene Robinson – solid safety for some solid defenses; Michael Sinclair – second on Seattle’s all-time sacks list; Cliff Avril – who could potentially climb into the Top 25 one day, if he continues to produce the way he has; Red Bryant – mostly a fan favorite type, who I was happy to see find a role in the early Pete Carroll years; Robbie Tobeck – helped solidify the greatest offensive line in team history during the Holmgren years; Steve Hutchinson – who gets a bad rap even though it was Tim Ruskell who dicked him over first; Rocky Bernard – an underrated interior defensive lineman who this team would kill to have right now; Sam Adams – someone who blossomed after he left the Seahawks (and someone who I randomly have a signed jersey from); Bobby Engram – who was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin; Chad Brown – who gets overlooked a little bit because he came from the Steelers, but still played quality football for his Seahawks tenure; Rufus Porter – a speed rusher off the edge and another fan favorite type; Zach Miller – who I’ll always respect for his toughness even though he got injured a lot; and Joe Nash – who would be my #26 if this list went that long, because he was an awesome nose tackle for this team who played here FOREVER.

Anyway, without further ado, My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks:

1.  Steve Largent – He was this team’s first Hall of Famer, and when he retired, he had most – if not all – of the wide receiver records before they were broken.  When I started getting into football in the late 80s, there was every reason to be a fan of some other team in some other city, as those Seahawks teams were okay, but nothing special.  The 49ers had Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, the Raiders (who were a particular favorite among my elementary school classmates) had Bo Jackson (’nuff said), the Redskins, Oilers, Dolphins, and Bengals were all loaded with talent.  I don’t totally remember my thinking on this one, but I’m certainly convinced now that I would never have become a Seahawks fan if it weren’t for Steve Largent.  I mean, yeah, they’re the local team, so it’s easy to say I’d just stick with that as the reason, but throughout the 1990s, I used to mock this team relentlessly, and would frequently bet my family members that the Seahawks would lose (and won quite a bit of cash in the process, for a kid in the 1990s anyway).  But, I could always hang my hat that at one point, Steve Largent played for the Seahawks and was the best player at his position.  Also, didn’t hurt that I got to meet him at an autograph signing at the Tacoma Mall.  It was many hours of waiting in line, but it was worth it.

2.  Marshawn Lynch – Unlike many of the guys on this list, who were either career Seahawks, or played many more years here, Lynch became a favorite of mine in a little over 5 and a half seasons.  His bruising style of play, all the highlight runs, and his abilities as a receiver and blocker make him not only the most complete running back in franchise history, but one of the very best overall players we’ve ever seen in a Seahawks uniform, including the other Hall of Famers coming up next on this list.

3.  Cortez Kennedy – It’s hard to pick one over the other when it comes to Tez and Big Walt; both are consummate bad asses.  While you could make the argument that Walter Jones was the best player at his position in NFL history (which I do), I don’t think I’d necessarily put Cortez Kennedy as the best defensive tackle in NFL history (though, to be fair, I haven’t tried ranking them all, so who knows?).  What I will say is that what won me over in Tez’s favor is his Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992.  First of all, it’s hard as fuck for a DT to win that award (there have only been two other players since 1992 at that position to win that award – Dana Stubblefield & Warren Sapp).  Secondly, no player at any position has ever won the award while playing on a shittier team (the Seahawks were 2-14 that year).  But, such is the fierce brutality that was Cortez Kennedy (who ranks 4th all time in franchise history for sacks); he finished that season with 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a whopping 92 tackles.  Let me repeat:  92 tackles!!!  There are linebackers who don’t get that many tackles, and here we are, looking at a DT who got 92 tackles.  Just insane!  To compare, Stubblefield in 1997 had 15 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and only 48 tackles; Sapp in 1999 had 12.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and only 27 tackles (that wasn’t even Sapp’s best season, but regardless, he never surpassed 50 tackles in a season, so that point is moot).  Tez frequently battled double- and triple-teams throughout his career, and was still a God damn hurricane to deal with in the middle.  It’s just too bad he couldn’t be rewarded with more playoff appearances.

4.  Walter Jones – If you went pound for pound, you’re probably talking about the very best player the Seahawks have ever had.  With Bad-Assery being a theme, they don’t get much more bad-ass than this guy.  He was repeatedly franchise tagged, repeatedly held out in training camp and in the pre-season, then showed up right before the regular season started not only in tremendous shape, but ready to start from Game 1.  Then, when you tack on his training regimen of him pulling Cadillacs to get ready for the season, and I think I need to go lie down for a while because I just got winded writing that statement.

5.  Matt Hasselbeck – This is probably where things start to get a little more fluid.  In five years, I would anticipate someone like Russell Wilson will have surpassed someone like Matt Hasselbeck.  Indeed, many fans might disagree with me, but I gotta admit I’m still a pretty big Hasselbeck fan.  He led this team to its first Super Bowl appearance, which is always going to be huge, even if the result isn’t what we wanted.  Where his talent may be lacking compared to a guy like Wilson, his personality and charm in the media more than makes up for it.  It’s always WAY more entertaining to hear a Hasselbeck interview than a Wilson interview.  I know, that means little compared to on-field accomplishments, and as I mentioned above, Wilson will probably pass him in a few short years.  But, for now, I hold Hasselbeck in higher esteem.

6.  Richard Sherman – This future Hall of Famer has nowhere to go but up on this list.  Pretty unlikely leader in the clubhouse of Legion of Boom participants, but Sherm has been the most consistently elite through the 2015 season.

7.  Shaun Alexander – He gets a bad rap for not being Marshawn Lynch, but I think a lot of fans forget just how great he really was.  If he didn’t start breaking down towards the end, he was well on his way towards getting into the Hall of Fame.  As it stands, he was one of the best two or three running backs in the NFL for a good five-year period.  He should be a shoo-in for the Ring of Honor, if the Seahawks ever get around to putting more people in there.

8.  Brandon Mebane – Love this dude.  He won’t be a Hall of Famer, he won’t have his number retired, he might not even make the Ring of Honor when it’s all said and done.  But, he was one of the better Tim Ruskell draft picks.  As a third rounder, he got on the field right away and has been a staple for this defensive line ever since.  Nine years in, he looks as good as ever, and I hope the team retains him so he can retire as a Seahawk.

9.  Kenny Easley – He’s the only player on this list who I don’t really remember watching play live.  So, I’m really basing his ranking on highlights and on testimonials from players around the league who talk about this guy with some of the highest reverence I’ve ever seen.  If his career wasn’t shortened by kidney disease, he’d be in the Hall of Fame right now.  Compared to Ronnie Lott, he’s the only other Seahawk to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, in 1984, when he had 10 interceptions (2 returned for touchdown).  As it stands, he’s a Ring of Honor guy, and the best safety in franchise history (eventually to be surpassed by the next guy on this list).

10.  Earl Thomas – He’s our Ed Reed.  Our Troy Polamalu.  Our All Pro Machine striving to be the best this game has ever seen.  The only thing that could cut him short on his quest is if he succumbs to injuries.  His dedication to the game and being the best puts him in my Top 10.

11.  Russell Wilson – Seems criminally low, I know.  I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before he’s in my Top 10.  Maybe even one more season.  The way he’s playing right now, and with Lynch’s retirement, this will be HIS offense.  If he manages to carry this team to unknown levels of awesomeness, I think he’s destined to skyrocket up my list.

12.  Jacob Green – He was an absolute monster throughout the 80s, racking up the most sacks in franchise history with 97.5 (and that doesn’t even include his first two seasons, when the NFL didn’t record sacks as an official stat).  Certainly one of the more underrated defensive ends of the 80s.

13.  Joey Galloway – Probably another controversial pick – especially this high in the rankings – but I don’t care.  He only really played 4 seasons for the Seahawks before holding out for 8 games in his fifth year before forcing Holmgren’s hand, but those four years were outstanding!  He was an elite return man from the get-go, and a big play machine on offense as well.  If we only could have paired him with a competent quarterback (he was saddled with Rick Mirer, John Friesz, and Jon Kitna before we were able to get Warren Moon in here for a couple of injury-plagued years towards the end of his career) he might have been even better, for as crazy as that sounds.  Still, even the way he left things wasn’t so bad, as we ended up getting two first round draft picks (one of which we used to nab Shaun Alexander, with the other being traded for multiple picks so we could get Koren Robinson, Heath Evans, and some backup offensive lineman I’ve never heard of).

14.  Doug Baldwin – Another player whose ranking could go way up on my list if we manage to keep him on the team beyond his current contract.  He’s proven to be a clutch possession receiver, as well as a guy capable of making bigger plays downfield, and as of 2015, a touchdown monster.  To think an undrafted receiver who has started since his rookie year could still be getting better in his fifth season is pretty amazing.  I want to see the Wilson to Baldwin connection continue for at least the next half decade, if not longer.

15.  Golden Tate – Maybe another controversial pick, but I like who I like, and I like me some Golden Tate.  I kind of dismissed him when he left for Detroit, as we still had Percy Harvin, after all.  But, when Harvin proved to be a huge chump, I’ve longed for Tate’s big play ability ever since.  His loss is now mitigated by the drafting of Tyler Lockett, but there’s still a lot to like about a guy like Tate who was another outsize personality on a team full of ’em.  A guy who got under the skin of opposing defenders (like the fucking Rams, for instance).  And a guy who played bigger than his size.  Not extending him, in favor of bringing in Harvin, is a move this team continues to regret.

16.  Brian Blades – The wide receiver parade marches on, with Blades, who played significant minutes for a rookie under Chuck Knox, and who eventually went on to replace a legend in Steve Largent as this team’s #1.  He was never super flashy, and only made one Pro Bowl in his career, but he’s this team’s second-leading career pass catcher.  He has the team’s second-most receiving yards, and is fifth in touchdowns.

17.  K.J. Wright – He cracks this in large part due to recency bias.  He’s been here for five years, has played all three linebacker spots, has only missed a small handful of games, and should be in the Top 10 in franchise history in tackles by this time next year.  I love his smarts, his professionalism, his toughness, and the fact that on a defense full of superstars, he just quietly goes about his business of being consistently great.  He’s never been to a Pro Bowl, and probably never will, but when it’s all said and done, he’ll go down as one of the best linebackers in Seahawks history.

18.  Marcus Trufant – He was rarely flashy, but he was a first round pick and a starter from day 1.  He made a Pro Bowl in 2007 when he had 7 picks, and it doesn’t hurt that he was a local kid who made good.  And, not for nothing, but we went to the same high school and played on the same Freshman football team (he was the superstar, I was the third string right tackle who never ACTUALLY got to share a field with him on gameday, because I was terrible).

19.  Michael Bennett – In three short years, Bennett is already #10 on Seattle’s all time sacks list.  Of course, he’s so much more than sacks, but that’s still pretty impressive.  With his ability to play both inside and outside, against the run and against the pass, he’s probably the most talented defensive lineman in franchise history (just behind Tez, that is).  If we can keep him happy and playing through the end of this contract – or onto another if he keeps producing – he could easily shoot up this list as well.

20.  Kam Chancellor – He took a bit of a hit this year with his holdout.  I don’t mind a guy who holds out of training camp and/or the pre-season, but I tend to draw the line when a guy starts missing regular season games (and starts costing us those games with his absence).  Truth be told, his 2015 was far from ideal; but, that doesn’t wash away the previous four years of amazingness.  If we can make him happy again and keep him around a few more years, he’ll return to his rightful place among the Top 15 or Top 10 on this list.  For now, it’s sort of Wait & See mode, for fans and the franchise alike.

21.  Lofa Tatupu – His career was relatively brief, but man did he shine bright!  In only six years (one of them severely injury-marred), he made three Pro Bowls, one first team All Pro, and cracked the top 10 in tackles in Seahawks history.  THIS is the best draft pick of Ruskell’s tenure, and a big reason why this team made the Super Bowl during the 2005 season.

22.  Darrell Jackson – Fourth in franchise history in receptions, second in touchdown receptions, and the number 1 receiver for most of Matt Hasselbeck’s time here.  His reputation was somewhat tainted by drops early in his career, but I feel he more than made up for it from 2003 through 2006.  Another guy who never made a Pro Bowl, and will probably never make the Ring of Honor, but he’s a big part of those Holmgren teams that brought the Seahawks to a level of respectability we’d never seen to that point.

23.  John L. Williams – Listed as a fullback, but he was really a do-it-all type of back.  He had hands like a receiver (3rd all time in receptions, 6th all time in receiving yards in Seahawks history), had quicks like a running back (fifth all time in rushing yards in Seahawks history, 9th in rushing touchdowns), and the size of a bruising fullback (5’11, 231 lbs), he could really do it all.  In an era that pre-dates these types of specialty backs who are equally as good at catching as rushing (LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, etc.), John L. Williams was truly a trailblazer.  He’s securely third place in franchise history in total yards from scrimmage (behind bellcow back Shaun Alexander with 10,940 total yards, and Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent, who had a total of 13,172 yards), ahead of other, more notable, running backs like Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, and Chris Warren.  John L. played largely a reserve role, as a third or fourth option for this offense for most of his tenure here, but he played that role splendidly.

24.  Bobby Wagner – He’s been great since his rookie year, I only expect further greatness going forward.  He’s another who could easily skyrocket up this list, the longer he remains the quarterback of the greatest defense we’ve ever seen.

25.  Jermaine Kearse – What can I say?  He’s another local kid, another undrafted free agent, who worked his way through the practice squad into being this team’s #2 receiver.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s a Husky.  Also doesn’t hurt that he’s made some of the biggest catches in franchise history, including the 4th down touchdown against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and the game-winning touchdown against the Packers the very next year in the NFCCG (not to mention the super-human TD catch in Super Bowl XLVIII, and the beyond-human bobbling/diving catch in Super Bowl XLIX).  He might have played his last down in a Seahawks uniform, and if so, I’ll be sad.  But, I’ll also be happy for a guy who started at the bottom and worked his way into a contract that was too big for the Seahawks to match.

The Running Back By Committee

At the Town Hall meeting between Seahawks brass and season ticket holders, our offensive coordinator mentioned that we could be looking at a running back by committee approach in the 2014 season.  Darrell Bevell has started to walk back those comments a bit, but it would still stand to reason that Christine Michael is the future, and therefore should probably start getting some real game experience.

Maybe it’s just me being a Seahawks fan – where we’ve never had to deal with the RBBC – but it certainly comes with a negative connotation.  The RBBC is something teams turn to when they don’t really have one great running back, but rather two mediocre backs.  You feed them both in equal measure until you find the one with the hot hand, and you ride him the rest of the game.  Or, you use one back to get all the yards between the 20’s, and one closer to the goalline (because ostensibly, the guy who got you all those yards up TO the goalline is COMPLETELY incapable of pushing it through for that touchdown).

Rare is the situation that you have with the Bills of today – with two elite backs who are both capable of not only pushing it into the endzone, but also breaking it for long runs in the open field.  Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are a committee of backs who could just as easily be lone starters on any given team (what prevents that from happening, more than anything, is their proneness to injury).

But, like I said before, the Seahawks haven’t really had to deal with this.  We’ve seemingly ALWAYS had an elite back, or at least a very good back (with the only real committee I recall being the failed Julius Jones/T.J. Duckett experiment).  Curt Warner giving way to Chris Warren, giving way to Ricky Watters, giving way to Shaun Alexander, eventually giving way to Marshawn Lynch.  That’s a nice run of backs, with only a couple of small gaps in between.  It seems like, regardless of the problems this franchise has had in the past, they’ve at least had a good plan in dealing with the running game.

This feels like uncharted territory, but it’s really not.  In the 2001 season, Ricky Watters was 32 years old – which is absolutely ancient when it comes to running backs.  But, he was coming off of six straight seasons with at least 1,100 yards rushing.  In 2000, he played in all the games and averaged 4.5 yards per carry (which was a career high average for him, when you factor in him playing in all 16 games).  I wouldn’t say he was in his prime, per se, but he was running at a high level and he probably could have hung on and done well for himself over an additional few years.

Except, the thing was, the Seahawks had just drafted Shaun Alexander in 2000.  He didn’t play a whole lot as a rookie, but the team still had big plans for him, and could ill afford to let him ride the pine for two straight years.

2001 started, and Ricky Watters was still the team’s starting back.  In the first two starts, Alexander had a helluva time cutting into his carries – he was still being treated as the team’s backup.  However, after an injury to Watters’ shoulder in the third game of the season, Alexander was handed the keys to the car and never let go.  In Alexander’s very first start, he ran for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries.  He would not look back.  His 2001 season wasn’t a world-beater or anything, but he tacked on some brilliant performances to really show his promise and potential (highlighted by a 266-yard, 3-TD performance against the Raiders in week 8).  Ricky Watters would return for a couple of games in December, but then we lost him to injury again and he would never play another snap in the NFL.

It’s hard for me to say what the team’s plan was for that 2001 season, had Ricky Watters not been injured for a huge chunk of games.  But, my guess is, we would have incorporated Alexander into the offense more and more as the weeks went on.  As things went, we got a little lucky, as we didn’t have to worry about any discontent or controversy.  A major injury will do that.  Either way, you have to think that 2001 would have been Ricky Watters’ final season in a Seahawks uniform, regardless of his health situation.

A lot of people feel the same way about Marshawn Lynch and this 2014 season.  There’s REALLY a lot of parallels, when you think about it.  Lynch and Watters are two of the toughest runners we’ve ever seen in a Seahawks uniform.  Both played for other teams before coming here.  Both have had rock-solid careers in Seattle and are beloved by Seahawks fans for their toughness and professionalism.  And, of course, both are/were being phased out by younger, highly-drafted backs with elite potential who mostly sat during their rookie seasons.  Nobody really wants to see Marshawn Lynch go, just like nobody really wanted to see Ricky Watters go.  But, what trumps that is the excitement over what’s possible.  Ricky Watters was great, but Shaun Alexander was even better – the best running back in franchise history.  Marshawn Lynch has played at an All Pro level in his time in Seattle, but Christine Michael JUST might be even better.

That’s a scary thought for the rest of the NFL, especially when you consider the talent that’s already on this team.

Maybe it won’t be a true running back by committee approach in 2014.  But, at the very least, I bet we see a reshuffling of the order.  Marshawn Lynch will probably start off the season as The Man, but Christine Michael is sure to get those secondary reps that would’ve gone to Turbin.  And, you have to figure, as the season goes on (assuming Michael doesn’t get bit by the fumble bug), Christine Michael will start getting more and more carries.

And, who knows?  Maybe a well-timed injury Wally Pipps Lynch’s tenure here in Seattle.  It’s not something I would ever wish on someone like him, but if it happens, it’s good to know we have someone right behind him who’s ready to handle the challenge and keep our offense humming at a championship level.

Marcus Trufant Retired

This is what it comes to when you desperately don’t want to write (or think) about the Seattle Mariners.

Marcus Trufant signed a 1-day contract with the Seahawks so he could retire with the team yesterday.  Seems appropriate.  He’s an important member of the local sports community and he deserves to have his day in the sun.

That’s not really what I find interesting about the whole thing, though.  It’s a nice story, but I’m more interested in his place in Seahawks history.  Specifically:  does he belong in the Ring of Honor?

Right now, there are 11 members of the Ring of Honor.  They are:

  1. Pete Gross
  2. Jim Zorn
  3. Dave Brown
  4. Steve Largent
  5. Jacob Green
  6. Dave Krieg
  7. Kenny Easley
  8. Curt Warner
  9. Chuck Knox
  10. Cortez Kennedy
  11. Walter Jones

The first nine were members of those great teams from the early-to-mid 80s.  They helped establish the history of the Seattle Seahawks.  The baseline for greatness, if you will.  Cortez represents all the teams from the 90s, as he was the shining beacon of hope on an otherwise pisspoor franchise.  Walter Jones represents the start of the second wave of great Seahawks teams after the turn of the century.

There will be more.  Off the top of my head, I’d say Mike Holmgren, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander are all locks to make the Ring of Honor, as they were the most important members (with Big Walt) of the aforementioned second wave that saw the Seahawks reach its first-ever Super Bowl.

And, if I’m allowed to look into my crystal ball, I’d say there are a number of awesome candidates in this current third wave of great Seahawks teams:  Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, with an outside shot for Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor.

This Ring of Honor’s getting crowded!  I’m sure that plays no small part in determining the outcome of players on the fringe.  Guys like Michael Sinclair, Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Brian Blades, Chris Warren, Eugene Robinson, John L. Williams, Brandon Mebane, and of course, Marcus Trufant.

The ultimate honor for a retired NFL player is the Hall of Fame.  You have to be a VERY special player to crack that barrier.  The Seahawks have three:  Largent, Kennedy, and Jones.  In looking ahead, I’d say Russell Wilson is on track (though, he’s going to need a couple more Super Bowl victories and a long sustained career of greatness), Richard Sherman is well on his way, and if Earl Thomas keeps going the way he’s going, he’ll likely get in as well.  Aside from those three, you might see Mike Holmgren make it, but it’s so hard for coaches to get in, and besides he really had his greater success with Green Bay anyway.

The next-level honor for a retired NFL player is his primary team’s Ring of Honor (or team hall of fame, or whatever).  That’s where you get to have your Hall of Famers, as well as the guys who may not have been good enough for that elite level, but still made a huge impact on that specific franchise.

There really should be a third-level honor, though.  Some sort of “Fan Favorite” type of honor where these guys like Marcus Trufant – and the other fringe guys listed above – get their due.

Marcus Trufant was a real professional.  In 2007, he made the Pro Bowl and the All Pro teams.  He’s currently fifth in franchise history in interceptions with 21 (one ahead of Richard Sherman, for the record).  He played 10 seasons in Seattle as a first round draft pick back in 2003.  He started immediately and was really one of our rocks in a secondary that was often torched (or, at the very least, not all that impressive).  He was an integral part of that second wave of great Seahawks teams, from 2003 through 2007 (five consecutive playoff appearances, four consecutive division titles, one Super Bowl appearance).

Marcus Trufant deserves … something!  He may not be Ring of Honor calibre, but he was a very good Seahawk and it’s been an honor to root him on for all those years.

Wilson High School Football Rules!

My Favorite Current Seattle Sports Stars

Nothing scientific about this post, my friends.  Today isn’t Thanksgiving or Memorial Day, but it’s still an important national holiday where we’re encouraged to reflect on what we’re thankful for and to celebrate all that we have.  There’s a lot of shitty things about the Seattle sports scene, but there are also flashes of brillance that should be acknowledged from time to time.  This isn’t a post celebrating my All Time favorites (it would generally be a lot longer and tedious, so expect that one to come up in the near future when I’ve got a free Saturday morning to write non-stop for four hours), but my favorites who I get to watch today.  This also isn’t a list of the BEST Seattle sports stars (though, they’re all pretty damn good, otherwise I probably wouldn’t like them so much), but a subjective ranking of my favorites.  Treat it like those annoying year-end lists where people rank the best in a specific catagory:  rife with controversy and outrage.  Without further ado, my favorites, in order from my favoritest on down.

  1. Felix Hernandez – This is by far the easiest choice I had to make.  On a list that’s going to be massively influenced by Seahawks, Felix is a shining beacon of awesomeness without rival.  If there was a massive flood and I had the opportunity to save just one professional athlete on my giant ark, I’d toss Felix a line and watch the rest drown in agony.  Then, I imagine I’d grab a couple gloves and a ball and play catch with just the greatest guy in the world *swoon*.
  2. Richard Sherman – This was a tougher pick for sure.  The next two guys on this list could stake a claim right along with Sherman as the Best Seattle Seahawk, but I’m giving my nod to #25.  I love a guy who is brash enough to talk gargantuan amounts of shit, then back it up by being the best player at his position.  In my book, short of pulling an Aaron Hernandez, I don’t think there’s anything Richard Sherman could do that would make me lose favor with him.  A lot of fans just want players to shut up and let their play on the field do their talking.  Fuck that.  I want nothing but bad-asses with personalities that drive fans of other teams (and players on those teams) crazy.  Besides, Pats fans, you know if he was on your team, you’d be hanging all over his jock, so calm down.
  3. Marshawn Lynch – He cemented his place in my heart in the 2010 playoffs with The Run.  Fuck it, he had a play so fucking amazing that it’s known as THE RUN.  Do you know how sick that is?  The Seahawks have been pretty mediocre throughout their franchise history – the epitome of a .500 or near-.500 ballclub – but throughout they’ve been blessed with quality running backs.  Curt Warner, John L. Williams, Shaun Alexander, as well as less-heralded players like Chris Warren and Ricky Watters.  I’ve thought very highly of all of these guys at one point or another.  But, I don’t think my level of affection has ever reached a point that it has with Beastmode.  There are plenty of imitators across all sports who have tried to co opt the Beastmode moniker, but every last one of them are phonies who need to start telling the truth with their nicknames.  “Less Than Beastmode” is a fitting start.
  4. Russell Wilson – You’re In Good Hands With Russell Wilson.  Even as a rookie last year, whenever I watched the Seahawks and they were down, I never got rattled when I saw Russell Wilson leading our team.  Granted, he didn’t complete every comeback, and even when he did, we didn’t always win those games thanks to a few defensive lapses, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt as comfortable coming from behind as I have with Wilson.  He WILL lead us to a championship one day, I have no doubt about that.  He’ll also be in the Hall of Fame one day as well.  Mark it now.
  5. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – This is going to be the only college player on my list as it currently stands, but I think I’ve made the right choice.  No DUI conviction is going to stand in the way of my love for this kid.  He’s a man among boys on the football field, including both his team and whatever team he’s playing against.  There are a lot of Huskies that I like, but none come close to ASJ’s level.  This year could be a monster and I’m hoping that he starts breaking records left and right.  I’ve seen too many amazing catches in traffic by this guy, so I know that in spite of whatever off-field issues he’s had, he’s always going to bring it on gameday.
  6. Kyle Seager – He’s the only Z-acquired prospect to pan out thus far, and he’s the only non-injured Mariners hitter I’m willing to put on my list of favorites.  I mean, I have to defend my choices!  Kyle Seager is the only hitter on this team that I can honestly defend.  He’s not flashy, but he’s solid.  And, with moments like last night’s game winning homer in extra innings down in Texas (and that grand slam in the 14th inning last month to tie the game we would eventually go on to lose), Seager has also shown a flare for the dramatic and ultra-clutch.  With the new crop of prospects just getting their feet wet, it’s nice to know there’s at least one long-term guy on this team I can count on to show up day-in and day-out.
  7. Golden Tate – Again, we’re not talking about the very BEST players (though, I would argue that Golden Tate is pretty fucking good), but we’re talking about MY favorites.  Golden Tate is one of my favorites, hands down.  Hard-nosed doesn’t even begin to describe his style of play.  He’s a magnet for the football and will do anything it takes to get that extra yard and get in that endzone.  Of course, helping to enrage a nation of Packers fans on Monday night doesn’t hurt.  I’ve had pretty high expectations for this guy since we drafted him, which may not be totally fair.  Either way, it took him a while, but he has finally started to reach his potential and I think he will only get better as he goes on.  Now, the question is:  will he still be on the team after the 2013 season?  If I had it my way, and the Seahawks were forced to make a hard choice between which receivers to keep going forward, I’d see them extend Tate and waive Sidney Rice.  That isn’t to say I’m down on Rice, but he makes too much money and he’s older.  Tate may not look like the prototypical #1 receiver, but I think he has the potential to put up those kinds of numbers.
  8. Brandon Browner – There’s not a lot that gets me more jacked up than to see Browner beating some wide receiver’s shit in.  Browner can enrage at times.  He’s prone to getting penalized and sometimes it looks like he’s more focused on punishing an opposing player rather than making sound football decisions, but with Browner the good far outweighs the bad.  Like Tate, I wonder if he will be on the team beyond 2013.  Like Tate, I think the team needs to make a sound football decision.  If they can bring Browner back at a somewhat reasonable rate, I think he’s worth the money.  But, if he’s going to command a max deal, then I think you have to do the smart thing and let someone else over-pay.  I don’t say that lightly.  If money were no object, I’d love to see Browner and Sherman playing opposite one another for the next five years.  But, we’re dealing with a salary cap, and I’m a Seahawks fan first.
  9. Franklin Gutierrez – I’ve talked a lot about the heartbreaking saga of Guti in a Mariners uniform, but that’s because I genuinely like the guy a lot and wish him nothing but the best.  His grace and speed in the outfield is unmatched when he’s healthy.  His bat is a game-changer at the top of the lineup … when he’s healthy.  Mariners fans love nothing more than a quality center fielder.  From Griffey to Cammy to Guti, if you’re flying around out there, putting your body on the line to make another SportsCenter highlight catch, we’re going to make signs in your honor and cheer like crazy.  2013 is, unfortunately, the end of the road for Guti in a Mariners uniform, which is depressing to no end.  I just hope he’s able to get a proper chance next year to get his career going again.  It would be a shame for the game of baseball to not have this guy roaming an outfield somewhere.
  10. Red Bryant – I’ve talked about this before, but I LOVE it when Red gets super fired up and starts barking at opposing players.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the big dudes along the defensive line, and Red Bryant is someone who completely changes the complexion of this defense.  When he’s healthy, he’s a disruptive force that helps us make other teams one-dimensional.  Unfortunately, he’s either been on the IR or has been playing through nagging injuries far more than he’s been completely healthy.  Still, you can tell that this is a guy who is giving his all and a guy who cares about being the best.  You often worry about players when they sign a big contract extension.  With Red Bryant, there’s no reason to worry.  If he’s got even an ounce of energy, he’s going to expend it doing what he does best:  kicking ass.

All-Time Seahawks Greats Part I

So, 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!

Starting with Quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck is obviously the Number 1 choice.  He’s got Dave Krieg beat in Total Yards, Games Played, Completion Percentage, and Yards Per Game.  Surprisingly, Krieg has 21 more touchdown passes (even more surprisingly when you consider he played under Ground Chuck), but Krieg also has 20 more interceptions, so I guess that somewhat evens out.

Know what’s really sad?  After Hasselbeck, Krieg, and Zorn, you know who our 4th and 5th best all-time quarterbacks were?  Try Jon Kitna and Rick Mirer (in PROBABLY that order, though Mirer did throw about 1,500 more yards while in a Seahawk uni).  Fun fact:  if you went by total yards, Charlie Whitehurst is already our 17th best QB (and a mere 160 yards behind our 16th best QB, Brock Huard).

On to Running Back; again, kind of a no-brainer.  Shaun Alexander was on a Hall of Fame track … then he signed a big contract extension after a Super Bowl season in which he ran for 1,880 yards and a league-record (for 1 season) 27 touchdowns.  From there, he turned 30, developed foot problems, struggled for 2 more years and was forced into early retirement after a brief, non-descript stint with the Washington Redskins.  Still, in his time, he eclipsed the next best rushers by nearly 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns.

As for my Official Second Team Running Back, I’d have to go with Curt Warner.  Though, did you know that Chris Warren beat Warner by a single yard in total yardage?  When you factor in Warner had 10 more TDs while also playing for vastly superior Seahawk teams, I’m giving him the nod.  Honorable mention goes to Ricky ‘Running’ Watters.  He only played with us for 4 seasons, but was forced into retirement while still running at an elite level (and because Alexander was chomping at the bit to take over the reigns).  There’s a lot to like about Watters’ hard-nosed style, though.

Fun fact #2:  Jim Zorn is our 9th best runner, with 1,491 total yards.  Fun fact #3:  Julius Jones is #10.

At Wide Receiver, we have our consensus #1 overall choice, Hall of Famer Steve Largent.  Just putting it out there:  he’s my favorite football player of all time.  And, I gotta say, he doesn’t get NEARLY the credit he’s due, considering he owned just about every single receiving record by the time he retired after the 1989 season.  13,089 yards, 819 receptions, 100 touchdowns, 16.0 yards per catch.  He was with us from the very beginning, made Dave Krieg look like an elite quarterback at times, and it’s too bad he never got a Super Bowl championship to cap off a wonderful career.

After that, on the list we have Brian Blades and Bobby Engram.  Blades ended his career as our Number 2 receiver, picking up the slack after Largent retired; Engram became our 4th best receiver.  Sandwiched between them, and obviously not getting the respect he’s due, is Darrell Jackson.  Jackson had about 1,600 more yards than Engram and was our only semblance of a Number 1 receiver during his tenure.  I can’t fathom why Engram was picked over Jackson, except that he was more of a fan favorite.  Maybe it was Jackson’s drops early in his career.  Maybe it was his contentious relationship with management that soured him on Seahawks fans.  Or, maybe it was all those clutch 3rd down receptions Engram made to extend drives during our best Seahawks seasons in the ’00s.

My Official Second Team, therefore, will lead off with Jackson.  I’m also going to take Joey Galloway, who would’ve been an absolute SUPERSTAR had he not made beef with Holmgren and forced his own ouster (as a plus, it should be noted that we received two first round draft picks from the Cowboys in exchange for his services; he was helping the Seahawks even when he wasn’t playing for ’em).  It’s that third receiver that’s giving me fits, though.  On our all-time receiving yards list, John L. Williams is #6, but he’s obviously NOT a wide receiver.  Discounting other running backs and tight ends, the stats would tell me to pick Koren Robinson, but I’m most certainly NOT going in that direction.  If I were picking an actual team, then I’d have my speed guy (Galloway), I’d have my Number 2 flanker (Jackson), so I’ll need a slot guy to round out the trio.  Here’s where I throw you my curveball:  Paul Skansi.  He was only #14 on our all-time yardage list, but he had one of the most memorable catches in Seahawks history, and I think he’d be an excellent complement to who I have.

Tight End is probably the most questionable choice the fans made:  John Carlson.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy.  I think, without question, he WILL be our all-time best tight end when all is said and done.  But, he’s only been here for 3 years!  Granted, in terms of all-time Seahawks tight ends, he’s #3 on the list for total yardage, but that just shows how TERRIBLE we’ve been, as a franchise, at the tight end position (see:  Jerramy Stevens).  Right now, I’ll take Itula Mili over both Carlson and Christian Fauria (#2 in total yards).  He was a steady contributer, an excellent run blocker, and an all-around pro’s pro.

At Full Back, who could argue with Mack Strong?  He was, bar none, our greatest asset in the running game when we were at our best.  Shaun Alexander wouldn’t have had NEAR the success he had without Strong clearing the way.  Plus, that NAME!  That’s just an all-time great NFL name no matter WHAT team you’re on!  For my personal Second Team, I’m going the other way with John L. Williams.  I don’t remember what kind of a blocker he was – he seemed more like an oversized running back than a traditional full back – but he was an asset both rushing and receiving.  I mean hell, you heard me mention him earlier:  he’s our #6 all time receiver in yardage!  Helluva guy, very under-appreciated considering he played for some down teams.  Not for nothin’, but he’s also our 4th best rusher in terms of total yards.

At Offensive Line, like I said earlier, I couldn’t possibly pick a Second 5.  Soon-to-be Hall of Famer Walter Jones anchors our left side along with Probable Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson.  Rounding it out, we’ve got Robbie Tobeck at center (making that 3/5 of our Super Bowl line).  On the right side, we’ve got Bryan Millard and Howard Ballard.  I don’t remember too much about those guys, except I think Ballard was one of the fattest individuals to ever play the position.  Don’t quote me on that.

In Part II, I’ll look at the defensive side of the ball.  I don’t know how much help I’ll be there, but I’ll give it my best shot.