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.