The Seahawks Beat The 49ers, Stayed In The Three-Seed

I’m the kind of guy who’s more than happy to celebrate a divisional victory and a home game in the first round of the playoffs. But, there’s a part of me that can’t help but harp on the fact that had the Seahawks simply beaten the shithole Giants, we’d be 13-3 right now, with the top seed in the NFC and a BYE next week. The more I think about it, the more my blood boils; hence why I try to NOT think about it.

Of course, it seems counterintuitive because as a football fan and a Seahawks fan specifically, you’d think I’d be HAPPY that there are potentially more Seahawks games to watch. But, I’m me, and all I can focus on is the fact that there are potentially more opportunities for the Seahawks to lose.

If you assumed it’s a waking nightmare to live in my head, congratulations! Your suspicions are CON-FIRMED!

Yesterday’s game was enjoyable enough, I guess. But, at no point was I ever seriously tempted by the other two games going on concurrently. The Panthers tied the Saints in the first quarter at 7-7, but New Orleans would go on to win 33-7. The Bears were actually leading the Packers 10-7 partway through the second quarter; but the Packers went up by 8 at halftime and ultimately won 35-16. Indeed, had the Seahawks’ game not been going as quickly as it was, they might’ve realized much earlier that it was meaningless and started pulling some starters early.

This game was a snooze through the first half, with both teams trading field goals and punts. There was more of the same in the third quarter, as the 49ers took a 9-6 lead into the final frame. Then, once they mounted an 11-play touchdown drive to go up 16-6, this game officially became infuriating. Russell Wilson and the offense couldn’t do a damn thing! The running game was getting stuffed left and right, the pass rush bottled Wilson up pretty good, and apparently the coverage in the secondary was off the charts, as we had to throw the ball away countless times.

But, if you hung in there that long, you were rewarded by the Seahawks taking over in the fourth quarter with three unanswered touchdown drives to go up 26-16. The 49ers had a meaningless back-door cover to make it 26-23, but otherwise it was a fine Seahawks victory to wrap up a relatively successful 12-4 regular season. We’ve had two seasons at 13-3 (both years where we went to the Super Bowl), and two other seasons were we finished with 12 wins, making this one of the five most successful regular seasons in franchise history. Not too bad!

Russell Wilson finished with a mediocre 181 yards and 2 touchdowns, but again he had zero turnovers, and helped limit the 49ers to just 2 sacks. The running game ultimately got it going in the fourth quarter; as a team we finished with 121 yards on 27 carries, with an Alex Collins touchdown late. Tyler Lockett had a monster game with 12 catches for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns.

We saw history in this one! Tyler Lockett became the first Seahawks receiver EVER to catch 100 passes in a season! The previous high in receptions was 94 (by Bobby Engram in 2007 and Doug Baldwin in 2016). He finished with exactly 100 for 1,054 yards and 10 TDs. This was the second time Lockett has gone over 1,000 yards, with his 1,057 last year. The other bit of history was D.K. Metcalf breaking Steve Largent’s single-season receiving yards record! Largent had 1,287 in 1985; Metcalf ended 2020 with 1,303 (on 83 receptions, with 10 TDs of his own). This is hands down the best season by a receiving duo in Seahawks history, which is pretty impressive.

Once again, the defense showed up in a big way in this game. The only reason why the 49ers had as much success in the second half of this one is simply because the Seahawks’ offense couldn’t do ANYTHING. We had three sacks, including 2 by Benson Mayowa, to give him 6 on the year. Last year, Rasheem Green led the Seahawks with 4 sacks; this year we had FIVE guys either match or surpass that number! As a team, we finished with 46 sacks on the season, which was good for seventh in the league; if you had the Seahawks anywhere near the top twenty at the beginning of the season, you are a liar!

Of course, we did give up the 11th-most total yards, and the 2nd-most passing yards in all of football; the late-season turnaround wasn’t enough to make up for that abysmal first half.

Anyway, we didn’t get out of this game unscathed. Jamal Adams hurt his shoulder. Apparently it’s NOT the shoulder he hurt earlier this season, which means he now has two bum shoulders. I don’t know what the outlook is for him playing this upcoming Saturday, but I guess we’ll find out later today.

We’re set to host the Rams in the afternoon, which isn’t ideal, but is pretty much in line with what I was expecting. I’m sure I’ll have more later in the week, but for now we close the book on the regular season and get to the part that REALLY matters!

Breaking my heart in the most wrenching fashion possible.

Looking At The Best Seahawks Wide Receiver Duos Of All Time

In reading through the Seattle Times sports section last week, I came upon an interesting question in one of the mailbag articles asking something to the effect of, “Is D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett the greatest wide receiver duo in Seahawks history?” That’s a bold statement (in the form of a question) after just a year and five games, but I think it’s worth exploring more fully.

I think, without question, the potential is there for this duo to be the best and it not even being all that close. The greatest Seahawks receiver of all time is Steve Largent; he’s a hall of famer and once held every significant receiving record in NFL history before Jerry Rice broke them all. Based on athleticism, you could argue Joey Galloway was the most talented receiver the Seahawks have ever had. But, I don’t think he will ever make the NFL Hall of Fame, and he only played in Seattle for five years before being traded away.

Regardless, based on the whole package, on top of his rapport with Russell Wilson (it always helps to have a future Hall of Famer throwing to you in both of your primes), I think D.K. Metcalf could blow away any and all wide receivers the Seahawks have ever employed. When you factor in Tyler Lockett’s all-around versatility – deep threat, short and intermediate god, great hands, great coordination with his feet near the out-of-bounds lines, can play outside or in the slot, durable, consistent – I mean, this is a monster pair! This is, like, Randy Moss/Wes Welker!

Anyway, let’s go backwards and look at all the great Seahawks duos and see how they match up.

Immediately preceeding this one, we have Lockett and Doug Baldwin (who was the consensus #2 best Seahawks receiver all time, until Metcalf overtakes him); they played together from 2015-2018. I would argue Lockett didn’t really make a leap until 2018, which coincides with an injury-plagued final year for Baldwin, so that’s a tough hang.

One that gets a little overlooked is Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Boy those were the good ol’ days! They played together from 2011-2013, but Tate didn’t do much in 2011, and Baldwin was largely injured in 2012. However, that magical 2013 season was something to behold! From a talent standpoint, both players were pretty elite and fit our scheme and quarterback perfectly. They’d be pretty high on my list.

I was discouraged – when I read the Times article – that Bobby Engram was nowhere to be found. His time with the Seahawks was quietly pretty special! In 8 years, he put up nearly 5,000 yards, largely out of the slot, and for some really good Seahawks teams. Nate Burleson overlapped with Engram from 2006-2008, with the 2007 season being their peak as a duo. Darrell Jackson, though, overlapped with Engram from 2001-2006, which is really THE duo from the Mike Holmgren era. D-Jack had three seasons over 1,000 yards, plus another 956 in 2006. Engram was largely a complementary player in those seasons, but no one was more of a go-to on third down. I rank D-Jack and Engram pretty high as well (and don’t even talk to me about Deion Branch, because I’m pretending he never existed).

I guess you also have to include Koren Robinson and D-Jack, who overlapped from 2001-2004 (with 2002-2003 being particularly elite), but Robinson had D.K.’s level of talent, only unrealized due to substance-abuse issues. There’s less of a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart for this duo.

If you want to talk about a forgotten blast from the past, look no further than Sean Dawkins and Derrick Mayes! They were the guys for just two years, from 1999-2000, but we rung in Y2K with a combined 1,821 yards between them!

What I’m finding is, through the 90’s and much of the 80’s, there were a lot of good 2-season runs (Joey Galloway with some guy, Brian Blades before him with some other guy, and so on) but no really great extended run for any particular duos. Also, to be fair, the Seahawks were largely terrible for the 90’s, but that’s neither here nor there. Even through the 80’s and the Largent years, it was mostly a one-receiver show. You’d be hard-pressed to find a good second option until you get to Sam McCullum, who overlapped with Largent from 1976-1981. McCullum had a couple of decent years where he caught over 700 yards apiece, but Largent was really doing the heavy lifting in this tenure.

And that’s pretty much it! So, outside of D.K. and Lockett, here are my rankings:

  1. Golden Tate & Doug Baldwin
  2. Darrell Jackson & Bobby Engram
  3. Steve Largent & Sam McCullum
  4. Doug Baldwin & Tyler Lockett
  5. Sean Dawkins & Derrick Mayes
  6. Bobby Engram & Nate Burleson
  7. Joey Galloway & Whoever
  8. Brian Blades & Whoever
  9. Koren Robinson & Darrell Jackson

If I had to place D.K. Metcalf & Tyler Lockett in that list right this minute, I’d probably put them fourth and bump everyone else down a peg. But, give me another year and a half and you could EASILY see this duo in the #1 spot! I can’t wait to see every minute of them together!

The Mediocre 90’s Ended With An Unlikely Seahawks Playoffs Apperance

I’ve been seriously negligent in my ongoing series of Seattle Playoff Futility, so thank you COVID-19 for killing sports and affording me the opportunity to wallow in the past. I’m effectively the human embodiment of this meme:

Also: I be shopping …

The 1990s were fucking HARD to be a Seahawks fan, especially for me. Which is a shame, because I was born in March of 1981, so they should’ve been smack dab in the epicenter of my wheelhouse. I was 7 years old in 1988 – the last time they made the playoffs before this year – and I remember very little about that time as a Seahawks fan, other than the fact that Steve Largent was my favorite professional athlete on the planet. But, he retired after the 1989 season, and it was all downhill from there (Largent would go on to a Congressional seat in Oklahoma by the time the Seahawks returned to the post-season in 1999).

Nevertheless, formative Steven A. Taylor caught the Seahawks bug coming out of the 80’s, which made the next ten years all the more tragic.

When you talk about the Worst People In Seattle Sports History, most others get overshadowed by the people involved in the Sonics going to OKC, but there’s a special wing in Sports Hell for Ken Behring (and owners of his ilk). He bought the team in 1988 – again, the last time the Seahawks made the playoffs – and he did everything to destroy this franchise from the inside out, so he could move them to Los Angeles in 1996.

It all started by disillusioning would-be Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Knox after the 1991 season, stripping personnel control away from the most-successful figurehead in franchise history to that point. Behring went on to hire Tom Flores, who had success with the Raiders in the early 80’s, but was well past his prime. It’s hard to tell who was more inept – the bumbling Flores, or the men he was charged with turning into professional football players – but the real losers were the fans, who had to watch the Seahawks from 1992-1994 go 14-34; including the absolute nadir in franchise history, when we went 2-14 in 1992 (as fate would have it, we weren’t even competent at LOSING, as we somehow managed to defeat the only other 2-14 team that season – the New England Patriots, IN Foxboro – to miss out on drafting Drew Bledsoe #1 overall, settling for the incomprehensibly-pedestrian Rick Mirer at #2).

As we got to the Dennis Erickson era from 1995-1998, my interest in rooting for the Seahawks took a serious nosedive. Thankfully, Paul Allen stepped up in 1997 to save the franchise and help get a new stadium built. That nevertheless didn’t stop this team from an endless string of middling finishes during this period:

  • 1995: 8-8
  • 1996: 7-9
  • 1997: 8-8
  • 1998: 8-8

Woof. There were some interesting players on those teams – future Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy was wrecking fools on the D-Line, Joey Galloway was drafted and was easily the most-talented receiver we’d had since Largent, and Warren Moon was a gun-for-hire for those last two seasons at the tail-end of his career – but we were simply unable to put it all together for one reason or another (epitomized in a December game in 1998 against the Jets in Giants stadium, when Vinny Testaverde was clearly short of the goalline on a 4th down QB-sneak, yet the refs didn’t see him reach the ball over after the fact, resulting in the NFL re-instituting Instant Replay the next year; you could argue that lone play prevented us from making the playoffs and ultimately cost Erickson his job).

By the time 1999 rolled around, I was all but actively courting other NFL teams to root for (the Atlanta Falcons were a particular favorite of mine at the time). If it were easier (like today) to root for a team in another market, I’m sure I would’ve bailed long before. Paul Allen, to his credit, was quite a hands-off owner, but he knew when to step in at the right time. When it was clear that Mike Holmgren was available, Allen stepped in and hired him to be Head Coach and General Manager, unprecedented to that point in franchise history. And it worked! That move single-handedly kicked off the greatest run of Seahawks teams (until Allen turned around and hired Pete Carroll in 2010).

Even factoring in the disasterous Jim Mora season in 2009, from 1999 through 2019, the Seahawks made the playoffs 14 times in those 21 seasons (including 9 division championships, three Super Bowl appearances, and the one NFL championship I’ll never have to write about for this series).

What makes the 1999 season awkward to analyze is the fact that so many of the guys on this team were holdovers from the Erickson era (especially that 1998 team that came so close to breaking the futility streak). It’s brought into even starker perspective when you consider that first Holmgren draft was among the worst in franchise history (Lamar King, anyone?).

But, that team was weird in general. There were zero expectations heading in; we all figured there’d be at least ONE rebuilding season before Holmgren could tear everything down and build it back up again. Which made it all the more surprising when the 1999 Seahawks started out 8-2; they would go on to finish the season 9-7 and be improbable champions of the AFC West. Jon Kitna won the starting job and was a reasonably-capable Game Manager in his 15 games that season. Ricky Watters was an absolute stud for us at running back with over 1,200 yards rushing and another 387 yards receiving. Unfortunately, Joey Galloway – who should have THRIVED in a Mike Holmgren system – held out for half the season in a contract dispute and hardly made a dent that year when he did play (he would go on to be traded the next year for two first round picks, who would go on to be Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson).

Obviously, backing into the playoffs is never a good thing (we were tied with the Chiefs at 9-7, but held the head-to-head tiebreaker by defeating them twice, including a Must Win matchup in Week 16 in the Kingdome), but considering it had been over a decade since our last post-season berth, beggars can’t be choosers.

Our reward was the #3 seed and a home Wild Card matchup against the 9-7 Miami Dolphins. All things considered, that was EASILY the cushiest of matchups that we could’ve gotten, considering the Titans – who would go on to lose in the Super Bowl to the Rams that year – were a 13-3 Wild Card team in the 4-seed, and the Bills were 11-5 as the 5-seed (Hello Music City Miracle!).

This was our first home playoff game since the 1984 season. It would also prove to be the last time Hall of Famer Dan Marino ever won a football game (the Dolphins would go on to be DESTROYED by the Jags the next week, 62-7).

But, Seahawks fans old enough to remember January 9, 2000, obviously remember this as the Trace Armstrong game.

Trace Armstrong was a … good defensive end. He played from 1989-2003; in five of those seasons he had double-digit sacks (and one of those seasons he was a Pro Bowler, in 2000, when he had a career-high 16.5). Sometimes he was great, sometimes he was mediocre, and obviously – because this is football – sometimes he was injured.

On January 9, 2000, however, he was a fucking WORLD DESTROYER!

Of his three sacks in the game, two of them came on third down (resulting in punts). His final sack came late in the fourth quarter, on a drive that would result in a punt (it resulted in a punt, because on third down, he stopped Kitna for a 1-yard gain to force yet another punt). But, even that doesn’t do his day justice. He was in Kitna’s face ALL DAMN DAY. If he wasn’t getting the sack, he was wreaking so much havoc that the guy next to him got it (Kitna was sacked 6 times total, 3 times in the fourth quarter, including twice on that all-important next-to-final possession).

On the final possession of the game, Kitna was 1 for 7 for 17 yards. This game outlined in great detail the need for improved offensive line play, as well as at the quarterback position (within two years, the Seahawks would go get Trent Dilfer, Matt Hasselbeck, and Steve Hutchinson – on top of eventual MVP Shaun Alexander – to really solidify things on the offensive side of the ball).

The Seahawks had so many chances to win this game. They were up 10-3 at half, and then 17-10 midway through the third quarter after a kickoff return for a touchdown. The offense couldn’t do jack shit in the second half, though. Aside from that kickoff return, we went 3 & Out, 5 & Out, 6 & Out, 3 & Out, and that final 7-play drive that ended on Downs; we moved the ball a total of 27 yards of offense and another 22 yards of defensive pass interference on one play. That’s just never going to get the job done.

Jon Kitna was 14/30 for 162, 1 TD and 2 INTs; Dan Marino wasn’t much better (17/30 for 196, 1 TD and 0 INTs), but he was only sacked one time and obviously didn’t make the mistakes Kitna made. In the end, it was a workmanlike 20-17 victory for the Dolphins, in the final game the Seahawks would ever play in the Kingdome (indeed, the final event the Kingdome ever hosted!).

All of that turmoil being said, as you could see by the thrashing the Jaguars gave to the Dolphins the very next week, there’s no way in HELL the Seahawks would’ve advanced any further. So, would you rather lose in a semi-heartwarming way to a beloved figure like Dan Marino? Or, would you like to be murdered and have your corpse micturated upon by Hitler and The Devil after ass-fucking you for three consecutive hours? Kind of a harsh image to put on a team like the Jags, but you get the idea.

Better days would be ahead for the Mike Holmgren-led Seahawks, but of course, not before a few more instances of utter heartbreak.

King Felix Steps Away From The Mariners

Long live the King …

I’ve been dreading this for so long. I’ve dreaded this season, I dreaded this game, and the last thing I ever wanted to do is write this blog post. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. And yet, it couldn’t have ended more appropriately for this team and this icon.

I was on Twitter the instant the Mariners first announced the final King’s Court of the season. I knew this day was coming, and I kinda hoped it would land on a Friday or Saturday, but it’s probably better it was on a Thursday. Fewer fair-weather fans whose only goal is to bro it up in The Pen. To go to this game, you had to be a real die-hard Felix fan; save the posers for Oktoberfest Night on Saturday (of which I am absolutely one, and will be in attendance for that as well).

Without blinking, I clicked the link and bought two tickets, not sure if I’d find anyone else who’d be free to go. I had seats 1 & 2 in Row 6 of one of the two original King’s Court sections (closest to home plate) before they expanded it to a quarter of the stadium. I’ve been in the King’s Court only a small handful of times, including one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen in person (click that link for more). I was at the Supreme Court which followed his perfect game, and I was at the most recent Turn Ahead The Clock Night when I walked away with a sweet red & silver t-shirt and K-card. Every time it’s been an unbelievably fun and memorable experience, but last night really topped them all.

My emotions were already all over the place before I even got to the stadium. I’d done my best in the days since I got the tickets to not think about it too much; denial is one of my greatest weapons in life. So, when the time came to leave work and mosey on over to Sluggers for some pre-game food and tallboys, it took every fiber of my being to not continuously blubber my way through the next few hours.

A few years back, in the King’s prime, I bought a t-shirt with his giant face on it. I’d never worn it for a variety of reasons: for a while there, I’d simply out-grown it through weight gain, plus it’s a white t-shirt and I generally don’t like to wear them very often as they tend to get dingy pretty fast. Plus, I mean, it’s a weird shirt! It’s got a giant head on it; it’s not like I can wear it many places without getting curious looks, and I’m not the kind of guy who likes to attract attention from strangers. I didn’t intend to save it for a special occasion, but when this came up, I dug it out from the back of my closet and wore it with pride last night.

We got to our seats at about 6:50pm, in plenty of time for the first of many standing ovations for our King. I’d noticed in recent years that the fans in the King’s Court were less inclined to stand and chant compared to when it was brand new. The whole point of being in the King’s Court is that it’s like a football atmosphere; most baseball games are stuffy and quiet, only erupting when something great happens. But, in the Court, we also erupt with the anticipation of something great happening; you know, like football crowds getting loud when the defense is on the field before every play. Thankfully, last night, everybody was really into it. We stood for the entire first inning! And, we had no qualms jumping out of our seats whenever the count got to two strikes. It hasn’t felt like that since the early days of the King’s Court (part of that is performance-based – Felix hasn’t been his usual dominant self in recent seasons – but part of that, I think, has to do with the fans, either being too jaded or over it or otherwise taking it all for granted).

In a cruel twist of fate, Angel Hernandez was behind the plate for this one, and believe you me, he heard it from us after every single non-strike call. He’s terrible anyway, so wearing it from the crowd was entirely justified. I don’t actually know how bad the umpiring was, but come on man, read the fucking room!

Anyway, the outing was far from ideal. Felix struggled through the first, but the damage was limited to one run after a bunch of pitches. He got tagged with a 2-run homer in the second (where apparently the guy who walked ahead of him should’ve been called out on his check-swing, but what else is new?), but settled down after that. The Mariners did have a couple errors on the night (at least one the King had to work around; I don’t remember when the other one happened), but he also benefitted by some truly outstanding plays behind him (including a diving catch by Dylan Moore in left field that surely would’ve been a bases-clearing double in the fifth).

His final line in a Mariners uniform: 5.1 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks, and 3 strikeouts. We didn’t get as many K’s as we would’ve liked, but when they came, the roar from the crowd – combined with the King turning toward us and acknowledging our adoration – was practically a religious experience. When he got out of the fifth on that diving catch, lingering on the field to give some love to Moore for his play, he was already over that 100-pitch mark. I started to well up then and there, knowing that was likely his final inning for the Mariners. I figured Scott would let him warm up for the sixth and then give him a final curtain call before seeing another batter, but he let him go up against one more. Robbie Grossman is the final batter King Felix saw as a member of the Seattle Mariners; he lined out to center on an 82mph change up.

Then, Scott came out of the dugout to a round of boos, but we quickly shifted to an explosion of gratitude. I’m literally STILL crying just thinking about it. I took dozens of pictures that I’ll hang onto, but I also tried to just be in the moment and soak it all up.

For what it’s worth, I know there’s the argument that they should’ve just let Felix stay out there for as long as he wanted, but in hindsight it’s better this way. It’s been pretty ugly for Felix the last few seasons, the last thing you want to do is have his final game end that way too. I’ll tell you what, though, if he’d ended his night with a strikeout, we’d be sitting around today talking about Beastquake 2.0.

I’ve written about Felix Hernandez more than anyone else since I started this blog (unofficially) back in 2008. I grew up as a child idolizing Steve Largent as my all-time favorite athlete, but King Felix has blown past the hall of fame wide receiver like he wasn’t even there. I’ve said it before and I’ll gladly say it again: I’m not a Mariners fan, I’m a Felix fan. He’s been – more times than is remotely appropriate – the only good thing about following this franchise in the years since he came up. I love Felix like he’s a member of my family, which is what makes this moment so heartbreaking for me. He’s been such a constant in my life – ever dependable and dominant and delightful – that I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself now that he’ll be finishing his career elsewhere.

It wasn’t supposed to go down this way. Well, that’s not totally true; for a while there it looked like it WAS supposed to end prematurely, but then he decided to sign an extension with the Mariners through the bulk of his career, and from then on I was convinced he’d always be ours. Spending your entire career in one city is so rare in this day and age, but it really felt like he was going to do it. I don’t want to sour this post by talking about the hardships of the last few years, but it sucks, you know? He was supposed to settle into a Bartolo Colon role in his mid-to-late 30’s, and he very well still might! But, it’ll have to be in another organization, which is depressing as all get out.

Of course, the worst part of all of this is that he’s still never tasted the post-season. All he’s wanted to do since he got here was win, and all the Mariners rewarded him with was mediocrity, with a few tantalizingly-close contending seasons sprinkled in. Sure, the organization let us all down with their poor drafting, poor trades, and poor player development, but it feels worse that they let HIM down. He was so fucking good for so fucking long, and he never got to showcase his greatness in the game’s brightest stage. He might catch on somewhere for a playoff run next year, and I hope he gets to see that drought eliminated, but he won’t get to do it with his filthy stuff of old. He’ll have to get crafty with it, and I hope he has it in him.

I know that eventually I’ll move on. There are some promising young players coming through the system who will turn into stars for the Mariners relatively soon. But, I don’t know if anyone will ever be as beloved as The King. He’s one of a kind. I’ll miss him. It won’t be the same when we don’t get to greet each other with “Happy Felix Day” every fifth game. The stadium will be that much less raucous without the court behind him. But, we’ll have our memories. I’ll be able to tell anyone who asks that I got to see one of the best pitchers of my generation playing for my hometown team. For that, I can only say to Felix …

The Seahawks Released Doug Baldwin & Kam Chancellor

The Kam news was expected. It wasn’t a matter of If, but When. Kam was never going to play football again, and after 2019 there’s no more dead money associated with his contract due to injury guarantees, so the team could finally move on from the future Ring of Honor safety.

The Doug news was somewhat expected, but much more startling. I thought we might’ve had more time, maybe letting things sit until Training Camp. See how he recovers from his latest treatment and if that comes with a possible change of heart. Sure, the reports – from both league sources and the team itself – sounded pretty definitive. And, sure, the Seahawks went out and drafted three new receivers to add to the pile – including John Ursua in the 7th round (who looks to be the type of receiver we’d bring in to take Doug’s place in the slot) – which was a clear indicator that the team was readying itself to move on. But, there was always the hope that Doug might come back at some point. Miracles do happen. Athletes of his calibre tend to heal much faster than mortal men; and the sheer will of Doug’s determination could see him taking the field for one more go-around.

But, this move effectively puts that to bed.

Which makes sense. There’s no point in carrying his contract on our cap, when we’re talking about someone who might be hanging it up. I won’t rule out a Marshawn Lynchian return somewhere else, after a year off to heal up I’d imagine, but it certainly won’t be with the Seahawks.

It’s a tough blow we all saw coming. The Seahawks are seriously going to miss him. Doug Baldwin truly is the best receiver this team has had since Steve Largent retired. No, the numbers won’t get him anywhere near the Hall of Fame, but as usual the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Doug Baldwin was one of the five best receivers in the league, period. His hands, his route running, his ability to shake off defenders and get open, his intuition with Russell Wilson; we always call our quarterback a wizard, but I would argue Doug made just as many mind-blowing plays. Having him on the field during crucial third downs and in the fourth quarter was the ultimate security blanket. Our offense has suffered immensely when he’s been out; there’s no way we’ll be able to replace him in 2019. The most we can hope for is one of the young guys panning out, but even that’s a lot to ask.

It’s a hard day for Seahawks fans. More and more, the holdovers from our Super Bowl teams are dwindling. I’d always hoped for Doug and Russ to be this team’s version of Rice and Young, or Irvin and Aikman. While they certainly had that kind of rapport, we’re most likely not even halfway through Wilson’s career and he’ll be looking for his next Go-To Target.

Maybe that’s Lockett, but I just can’t see his role changing all that much. Lockett is an outside receiver and our primary speed/deep threat. While he’ll figure to get the lion’s share of targets going forward, I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that he just slides into the slot and we move on. It’s going to be a true team effort to replace Baldwin; here’s hoping we have the guys to get it done.

Coming To Terms With Felix Hernandez

In my continuing “Coming To Terms” series (we’ll see how long it goes, depending on how many more Mariners players emerge to disappoint), I’m taking a sad look at King Felix. Like Seager, Felix has gotten worse over the last few seasons:

  • 2015: 18-9, 3.53 ERA, 201.2 innings, 4.4 WAR, 8.52 K/9, .682 opposing OPS
  • 2016: 11-8, 3.82 ERA, 153.1 innings, 1.6 WAR, 7.16 K/9, .718 OPS
  • 2017: 6-5, 4.36 ERA, 86.2 innings, 0.8 WAR, 8.10 K/9, .791 OPS
  • 2018: 8-14, 5.55 ERA, 155.2 innings, -1.2 WAR, 7.23 K/9, .798 OPS

I mean, Jesus, there’s no sugarcoating this decline. He’s 33 years old in April and he’s heading into the final year of his contract, which accounts for over $27 million.

I can’t even begin to describe how much all of this bums me out. King Felix is far and away my favorite Seattle athlete and that’s REALLY saying something, because we’ve had some true greats. Steve Largent, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Marshawn Lynch, Cortez Kennedy, Walter Jones, Randy Johnson, Detlef Schrempf, Kam Chancellor, Ichiro. I would argue that Felix was just as great as any of those guys in his prime, plus the fact that he was loyal to this city when he had ABSOLUTELY no obligation just puts him over the top. The fact that he’s going to go his entire career in a Mariners uniform having never played in the post-season is really just too much. If there was ever a year for the Mariners to not totally Mariners things up, 2018 was it. That was his last – and really ONLY – chance, and we couldn’t give it to him.

I get the sense that most Mariners fans are done with him, which makes me sad. At this point, with the team not really contending for anything (and, indeed, a worse record only helps our draft prospects next year), this is when you WANT Felix here. He’s not capable of really carrying this team like he was in his prime, so I say hand him the ball every fifth day and take whatever comes. If it’s a rare good day, then relish it, as you never know when you’ll see his last quality start; if it’s a usual clunker, then that’s just another loss in the column toward a higher draft slot.

Given the way his career has gone, it feels impossible to hope for any sort of turnaround. If that was in him, we probably would’ve seen it by now. Just getting him through the whole season without a DL stint (or, I guess an IL stint?) would probably be the most we should hope for. I’ll never totally shut the door on some sort of Bartolo Colon-esque resurgence, but even then, you figure if the M’s have an opportunity to trade him to a contender for a late-season playoff push (with Felix’s blessing, of course), they’ll probably jump at it (taking on most of his salary nonetheless, because no team would pay much more than the minimum for his services). That’ll be a dark day for Seattle sports, but then again, you rarely see your superstars play exclusively for only one franchise anymore.

After this year, I suspect he’ll get a spring training invite elsewhere (the Marlins maybe?), while we sit around and squabble about his Hall of Fame prospects. Short of a dramatic career turnaround, those chances also seem pretty slim.

Chuck Knox Passed Away

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.

History Of The Kicker Position For The Seattle Seahawks

I bumped this up to the Featured Articles spot.  Click HERE.

The Definitive Mount Rushmore For Seattle Sports

That’s a bold proclamation, but I’m a bold individual.

Mount Rushmores:
Tuesday:  Seattle Sports Announcers
Wednesday:  Seattle Head Coaches/Managers
Thursday:  Mariners, Supersonics, & Seahawks (past & present)

It’s All Star Week in Major League Baseball, which means it’s pretty much a dead week in sports.  I’m not 12 years old, so the All Star Game doesn’t mean anything to me; I’m not 62 years old, so golf doesn’t mean anything to me.  But, a blogger’s job is never done!  Or, I dunno, maybe it’s been done ad nauseam.  Either way, I’ve got nothing timely to write about, and I’ve got nothing else better to do, so I’m doing this.

We’re celebrating some of the local Mount Rushmores in a series of posts this week, because that’s something people do, right?  Sports radio and the like; what’s your Mount Rushmore of 80’s Heavy Metal Bands?  Off the top of my head, I’d have to say Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue, and come at me bro if you think I’m wrong because I’ll fight this whole fucking town!

Today, it’s all on my shoulders to select the Mount Rushmore for Seattle sports.  It’s a daunting task, to say the least.  Am I man enough for it?  I dunno, probably not, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

So, I suppose to do this right, there have to be some parameters.  Obviously, they have to be great at their sport; Hall of Fame level.  There’s an element beyond that, though; one that transcends their own personal greatness.  Popularity is certainly a part of it, not just in Seattle, but across America and around the world, but I’d be remiss if I put too much emphasis on their notoriety.  I think it matters not just that they were great on their respective teams, but great when compared to others in the history of the game and position they played.

For instance, Steve Largent is my favorite football player of all time, and at the time of his retirement he was the best the game had ever seen.  But, now?  Largent is 18th in the NFL in total yards, surpassed by the likes of Henry Ellard (played 2 more seasons, is not in the HOF), Andre Johnson (who is good, but does he strike you as transcendant?), and Reggie Wayne (who had one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning throwing to him; of COURSE he has more yards!).  I’m just saying that the greatness of the wide receiver position has been deminished in the wake of the NFL turning into a passing league.  I mean, Terrell Owens has the second-most receiving yards of all time (behind the great Jerry Rice) and he’s still struggling to make it into the HOF!  I don’t care about his reputation or his attitude or whatever; 20 years ago, if he’d retired with the most yards in NFL history, he would’ve been a first ballot enshrinee.

Also, look at someone like Felix Hernandez; my favorite player of all time.  Yeah, he’s great, and he’s in my Mariners Mount Rushmore, but compared to some of the greatest pitchers of all time, Felix is just another guy.  Maybe in another era, with the stuff he has, he would’ve put up numbers commensurate to some of the all timers, but he’s in the era he’s in, and it knocks him back accordingly.  You have to go above and beyond in these situations if you want to make my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore.

In an effort to make this easier on myself, let’s knock out a couple of really obvious ones.

At the top, in the pole position of my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore, I have Ken Griffey Jr.

Absolute no-brainer.  22 years in Major League Baseball, 13 years in Seattle, at the absolute peak of his powers and popularity.  #1 overall draft pick by the Mariners in 1987, in his first 11 years with the organization he made the All Star team 10 times.  10 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, and was the American League MVP in 1997.  He hit 417 of his 630 home runs with the Mariners.  He took the team to its first two playoff appearances in the history of the franchise.  He led the A.L. in homers 4 times and in RBI once.  He’s in the Mariners’ Hall of Fame, is the only actual Mariner to have his number retired, was a member of the MLB All-Century Team, and was the highest vote-getter in MLB Hall of Fame history in his first year of eligibility.  HE WAS THE MOST POPULAR ATHLETE ON THE PLANET!  He’s 6th on the all time home run list, and if you discount the cheaters that are Bonds and A-Rod, he’s truly in rare company (Aaron, Ruth, and Mays, are you KIDDING me?).

That’s what I mean.  Ken Griffey Jr. is the definition of a Mount Rushmore-type player.  He’s the greatest athlete the city of Seattle has ever seen and might be the greatest we will EVER see.  Anyone alive who got to see him play in his prime should thank their lucky stars.

At my #2 spot in my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore, I have Gary Payton.

Again, I think this one is a no-brainer.  18 seasons in the NBA, 13 seasons in Seattle, again at the absolute peak of his powers and popularity.  #2 overall draft pick by the Supersonics in 1990, in his Seattle years he made the All Star team 9 times.  2 All-NBA first teams, 5 second teams, and 2 third teams.  He was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, as well as the steals leader the same year.  He is 4th all time in NBA history in steals with 2,445 (behind Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd, and a million miles behind John Stockton).  He’s also 8th all time in NBA history in assists with 8,966 (among the likes of Stockton, Kidd, Nash, Mark Jackson, Magic, Oscar, and Isiah).  When you’re talking true point guards, you’re talking the best of the best, and GP is right there.  He was always a defensive force, but his offense didn’t really start to take off until his fifth season in the league; yet he still managed to score 21,813 points, which is good for 31st all time, just ahead of Larry Bird, and just behind Clyde Drexler.

Again, we’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever put on a jersey and play the game of basketball!  I don’t know if people necessarily think of GP the way they think of Griffey, because Griffey might be the best or second-best centerfielder of all time; whereas there are a bunch of great point guards who are as good or even better.  But, I’m here to tell you that there really aren’t that many.

Guys like Stockton and Kidd played great defense and dished it out like no one else, but their offensive games were largely lacking.  They couldn’t take over a game and back down an opposing guard like GP could.  Nash and Iverson were awesome scorers, but they weren’t as suffocating on defense as GP would be.  Honestly, I think the only people in Gary’s league are Magic, Isiah, and maybe Oscar (but, I’ll be honest here, all three of those guys were either a little or a lot before my time, and I didn’t get to see them play in their primes).  Anyway, I’m talking about COMPLETE point guards, guys who played on both sides of the ball and did it damn well on both ends.  Not to mention from 1995 through 2003, Gary averaged over 38 minutes per game.

The only shame of it all is that he played in the opposite conference from Michael Jordan, and only got to face off against MJ the one time in the NBA Finals.  I think if those guys were in the same division and had to go against one another 4 times a year plus every year in the playoffs, it would’ve been one of the truly great rivalries in NBA history.  As it stands, Gary really didn’t have anyone who was his direct rival.  He was already established when Kobe was a young pup.  Kidd and Stockton were never much to speak of on the offensive side of the ball, so they never really challenged him at that end.  All the best scoring guards during Gary’s prime were in the East, or they were past their primes when Gary was in his.  That Finals series in 1996 was one for the ages, though.  It’s just too bad it was the first for that group in Seattle; I think the severity of the situation got to them mentally.  For the Bulls, it was old hat; just another business trip.  I think if the Sonics had gotten theirs in 1994 (like they SHOULD have), by 1996 it would’ve been like two equally fierce titans going against one another.  What could have been.

***

With the easy half of our Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore out of the way, now we get to the more difficult decisions.

For starters, where are the Seahawks?  I’m pretty sure you can’t have one of these without throwing a Seahawk on there, so let’s get cracking.

As I wrote about yesterday, there are currently 4 Seahawks in the NFL Hall of Fame (with this year’s induction of Kenny Easley).  So, yeah, a lot to choose from here.  At the top, I talked about Steve Largent a little bit, and I still stand behind that.  I think his candidacy for this list is pretty lacking, when you consider his current place in NFL history, which I very much believe applies here.

When you look at the rest of the Hall of Famers, I think one name clearly stands out, and that name is Walter Jones, my third choice for the Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore.

There aren’t really a ton of stats I can sit here and pull up to show Big Walt’s greatness; it’s not like the NFL keeps track of “pancakes” as an official stat (BTW tho, they absolutely SHOULD).  Jones made 9 Pro Bowls, was First Team All Pro 4 times, and Second Team twice.  He was on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.  He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and has had his #71 retired by the Seahawks.

If you want to get a little deeper, in trying to compare him to the other greats in NFL history, that’s a little trickier.  Pro Football Reference has their “Approximate Value” stat that tries to equalize things across all positions, and gives your career a numerical value accordingly.  Across all positions, in the entirety of NFL history, Jones is currently tied for 150th, which – when you think about how many players there have been – is pretty astounding.  I did the research, and there are only 26 offensive linemen ahead of him on that list, but the vast majority of them are either guards or centers.  Among just the left tackles, there are only 6 ahead of Walter Jones:  Anthony Munoz, Lomas Brown, Willie Roaf, Mike Kenn, Gary Zimmerman, and Orlando Pace.  Four of those guys are Hall of Famers, and the other two (Brown and Kenn) just played forever.  So, yeah, I’d say that’s pretty good company.

Anecdotally, Walter Jones IS one of the greatest left tackles in NFL history.  The combination of speed, size, technique, power, durability, raw talent; it’s something we probably will never see around here ever again.  It’s ultimately the durability issue that cost him the end of his career, as injuries and surgeries became too much and cut it short, but he’s also a guy who was able to play through a lot of pain and injuries and keep up his high level of play.  He may not be the force of nature, popularity-wise, that Griffey or even Payton were, but his talent and standing among the greats at his position relative to the history of the game more than makes up for it.  As such, Big Walt is my #3.

***

Which leads us to our Abraham Lincoln spot on the mountain.  Who is my #4?

The fact that this is far and away the most difficult choice for me ultimately leads me to believe that whoever I choose is not long for this spot.  I’m a firm believer in the Smell Test, or the Eyeball Test, or whatever you want to call it.  Is a guy a Hall of Famer?  That should be obvious; it shouldn’t take much more than 10 seconds to decide.  Either he is or he isn’t.  Obviously, there are people on the bubble who need arguments in their favor (*cough* EDGAR *cough*), but for me it’s a lot more simple.  Yes, Edgar is a Hall of Famer; NEXT!

But, I don’t really have a solid #4, which means my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore is sitting atop a pretty shaky foundation.  There are certainly guys in the running.  Edgar Martinez, for instance, would be a fine choice; but can I include a guy who’s not even in the MLB Hall of Fame (yet)?  Same goes for someone like Jack Sikma (who absolutely should be a basketball hall of famer).  There are plenty of former Sonics and Seahawks who ARE in their respective halls of fame, so it doesn’t seem totally fair.  On top of that, can you rank any of these other guys as among the greatest at their positions all time?

My actual belief is that the #4 player on my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore is currently playing for the Seattle Seahawks.  But, since his career hasn’t ended yet, is it really appropriate to put him on there now?  Frankly, I think we’re another 7 years of quality play out of Earl Thomas from him being the guy.  If he can keep it up, and manage to stay healthy, he will go down as one of the most talented and important free safeties in the history of the NFL, with this Seahawks defense going down as one of the elite defenses in the history of the NFL.  As I wrote about yesterday, he’s the straw that stirs the drink; others may come and go, play or be injured, but the constant is Earl Thomas.  And, most importantly, we got a clear and obvious look at what this defense is without him, in the final 5 regular season games and 2 playoff games last year:  it’s not pretty.

So, I WANT to put Earl in here, but I just can’t.  What if injuries plague him from here on out and cut his career short?  Well, that opens the door for Richard Sherman, who is already the greatest cornerback in franchise history and already has made a name for himself among the greatest to ever play the game.  He needs some longevity to go with that to be Mount Rushmore-worthy, and the biggest question here is:  will he play out the duration of his career in Seattle?  There are obvious, serious doubts there too.

Which takes me to Russell Wilson.  What if he plays another 15 years for Seattle, and leads us to another 2-3 Super Bowls?  Doesn’t he HAVE to be the #4 on my Mount Rushmore, simply for the fact that he’s the most popular, recognizable figure on this team, at its most important position?

So, you see the bind I’m in.  All three of those guys are worthy, but all three of them need to put on some more years before they can be taken seriously among the top three on this list.

Where do I go from here?  While I acknowledge all of the above is true, I refuse to put “Placeholder” as my #4, so I’ve gotta make a choice.  To me, I think it has to come down to a couple of names:  Cortez Kennedy and Ichiro.

The Tez falls a few points below Big Walt on the ol’ Approximate Value scale, but I’m not going to go through and count the number of defensive tackles ahead of him.  Here’s what I’ve got:  11 year career, all with Seattle.  First round draft pick, #3 overall.  8 Pro Bowls, 3 First Team All-Pros, 2 Second Teams.  NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.  NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.  His number 96 is retired, and he’s in the NFL Hall of Fame.  Unfortunately, he got saddled on a lot of bad and mediocre teams, so the 2-time College Football National Champion only made one NFL playoff appearance (losing in the Wild Card round).  In my estimation, Tez ranks among the best all time at what he did, which was an all-around defensive tackle who could both rush the passer and defend against the run.  His sack numbers are impressive – particularly when you consider the number of double-teams he had to face – but his total tackle numbers are even MORE impressive.  I mean, he had 3 seasons where he averaged over 70 tackles per year!  As a DT!  Those are linebacker and safety numbers!

Then, there’s Ichiro.  He’s not in the MLB Hall of Fame, but that’s only because he’s STILL playing, at the age of 43.  Here’s a guy who spent 9 years in Japan before coming over to Seattle.  From age 18-26 (where, for a lot of people, he’d be working his way through the minors and getting into his prime at the Major League level), his numbers are essentially rendered irrelevant by a lot of baseball fans.  He nevertheless, as a pro starting at the age of 27, has managed to get over 3,000 hits, 2,533 of which were in a Mariners uniform.

Let’s get into it:  he was with the Mariners for 12 seasons.  An All Star his first 10 years (including All Star Game MVP in 2007).  A Gold Glover his first 10 years.  A Silver Slugger 3 times.  A Fielding Bible Award winner 3 times.  American League batting champion twice.  In 2001, he was the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in the A.L.  He also led the league in stolen bases that year.  He also had over 200 hits in his first 10 years, and set the single-season record for hits with 262 in 2004.  Like Tez, Ichiro was saddled with some pretty bad Mariners teams after the 2003 season.  Yet, he stuck around and remained true to the organization long after he could’ve gone to any number of teams to play for a contender.

If you want to talk about popularity – particularly on a global scale – Ichiro sits up there with Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime.  Even across America, he was the face of the Seattle Mariners for a decade!  He was a dominant force at the top of the lineup, and he was equally as great at his defense in right field.  He stole bases, he kept the opposing team’s running game in check, and if he were in a better-run organization, he could’ve done even MORE with his offensive numbers.

Is he among the greatest outfielders of all time?  That’s a little tougher to nail down.  He wasn’t like a Griffey or a Mays; Ichiro’s game is speed and singles (among other things).  I think he ranks up there among the greats at his defense, and among the greatest all time leadoff hitters.  I think he’s the greatest Japanese-born baseball player of all time, which is not an insignificant feat.  And, I think when you tack on the fact that some of his prime years were spent in the inferior Japanese leagues, you have to wonder what could’ve been had he gotten to America sooner.

All of that considered, that’s why I’m making Ichiro my #4 on my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore.

So, what do you think?  Griffey, Payton, Jones, Ichiro.  With a very strong likelihood that my future #4 will be someone on this current Seahawks team.  Maybe in another decade I’ll come back and write a new one of these for shits and giggles.

The Mount Rushmores For Each Seattle Pro Team

* That I choose to cover, because I don’t give a fudge about the ones I don’t.

Mount Rushmores:
Tuesday:  Seattle Sports Announcers
Wednesday:  Seattle Head Coaches/Managers

It’s All Star Week in Major League Baseball, which means it’s pretty much a dead week in sports.  I’m not 12 years old, so the All Star Game doesn’t mean anything to me; I’m not 62 years old, so golf doesn’t mean anything to me.  But, a blogger’s job is never done!  Or, I dunno, maybe it’s been done ad nauseam.  Either way, I’ve got nothing timely to write about, and I’ve got nothing else better to do, so I’m doing this.

We’re celebrating some of the local Mount Rushmores in a series of posts this week, because that’s something people do, right?  Sports radio and the like; what’s your Mount Rushmore of TV shows still airing new episodes right now?  Off the top of my head, I’d have to say Rick & Morty, Better Call Saul, Bob’s Burgers, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but ask me another day and I might give you four completely different shows.

Today is going to be the first of a two-parter, of sorts.  I’m going to split up my Mount Rushmores between the Mariners, Sonics, and Seahawks, with the goal of locking down an official Mount Rushmore for All Seattle Sports tomorrow.

First up:  the Seattle Mariners.

  1. Ken Griffey Jr.
  2. Edgar Martinez
  3. Felix Hernandez
  4. Ichiro

I thought this one was pretty easy, but I could see why people might want to make the argument for someone like Randy Johnson or Alex Rodriguez or even Alvin Davis, but ehh.  Griffey is Griffey; he’s the greatest player in Mariners history.  Edgar is Edgar; he’s the greatest hitter in Mariners history.  Felix is the King; his prime in a Mariners uniform was better than Randy’s prime in a Mariners uniform.  Had the Mariners never traded Randy, and he won a bunch more Cy Young Awards and whatnot, then yeah, Randy all day.  But, I’m going with the King because he’s my favorite player of all time and because he deserves to be on this list.  And, I’m going with Ichiro as my #4 due to his longevity and his sustained brilliance as this team’s leadoff hitter.  Again, it comes down to tenure over someone like A-Rod who had a short stint of supreme excellence before taking the money and running to the Rangers.  In the end, I don’t think A-Rod would end up on any team’s Mount Rushmore, and that’s exactly what he deserves.

Next up:  the Seattle Supersonics.

  1. Gary Payton
  2. Jack Sikma
  3. Fred Brown
  4. Shawn Kemp

You could go any number of ways with the Sonics.  Ray Allen, Lenny Wilkens, Gus Williams, Xavier McDaniel, Nate McMillan, Spencer Haywood, Slick Watts, Detlef Schrempf, Big Smooth, Dale Ellis, and on and on and on.  There were so many great players, so many great teams, and so many great eras of Sonics basketball.  I’ve got the Glove at the top because I think he was the best all-around player in team history.  He’s obviously known for his lockdown defense, but he really developed into a dominant offensive player over his career, becoming the team’s unquestioned leader.  Sikma was the best big man in team history, averaging a double-double in 7 of his 9 years in Seattle (as well as making 7 All Star Games).  Brown was a 13-year career Sonic bridging the early 70s, through the championship year, on into the mid-80s and the next generation of great Sonics teams.  And, finally, I’ve got 5-time All Star (with the Sonics) Shawn Kemp, the most explosive and athletic player in team history, who really developed into a force in the league, at a time when there were tons of great power forwards in the game.

And, without further ado:  the Seattle Seahawks (past).

  1. Steve Largent
  2. Walter Jones
  3. Cortez Kennedy
  4. Kenny Easley

Okay, so here’s the deal:  those are four Hall of Famers.  If you’re going to have a Mount Rushmore of Seattle Seahawks, you’ve gotta go with the actual NFL Hall of Famers, right?  Steve Largent, at the time of his retirement, had just about every single wide receiver record in NFL history; he was THE greatest, until Jerry Rice became THE greatest.  Now, many receivers have blown past Largent’s stats through the years, but the game is a lot different now than it was in the 70s and 80s.  Walter Jones, I think, is the greatest left tackle in NFL history; he absolutely belongs on this list!  The Tez is, without question, one of the greatest all-around DTs in the history of the league.  His ability to clog up the middle, command double-teams, and still create an abundance of pressure up the middle is simply mind-boggling.  And, as for Easley, he was a Pro Bowler 5 of his 7 seasons, and a first team All Pro in 3 of his 7 seasons.  Had he not had the health issues that forced him into retirement, he would’ve been an NFL Hall of Famer MANY years ago.  Essentially, he was Kam Chancellor before there was Kam Chancellor, at a time when the safety position was oft-overlooked.  His type of game-changing talent is generational and precious and should not be taken for granted.

There have obviously been other great Seahawks throughout the years – Matt Hasselbeck, Curt Warner, Shaun Alexander, Jacob Green, Dave Brown, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, and so on and so forth – but no one is on the level of the four above-referenced Hall of Famers.

Now, that having all been said, I think this current batch of Seahawks – since Pete Carroll and John Schneider joined the team – have some NFL Hall of Famers on it as well.  So, really, I had no choice but to split this part up.

We had the Seahawks (past) and now the Seahawks (present).

  1. Earl Thomas
  2. Marshawn Lynch
  3. Richard Sherman
  4. Russell Wilson

Obvious asterisk here in that Beastmode is not a current Seahawk, but he’s from this Pete Carroll Era, and that’s really what I’m talking about here.  I think Earl Thomas (assuming he comes back from his injury) is the best and most obvious future Hall of Famer.  Like Easley, in Earl’s first seven seasons, he’s made 5 Pro Bowls and 3 First Team All Pros.  He’s the heart & soul of this defense and really what makes this defense tick.  As you could see when the Seahawks lost him last year, this defense falls apart without Earl!  With him, it’s among the best in the league, and the primary reason why we’ve led the league in fewest points allowed so many times under Pete Carroll.  Next up, I think you have to go Beastmode.  I think, as it stands right now, he’s a borderline NFL Hall of Famer.  But, with a good season or two in Oakland, I think he blows past borderline into Obvious NFL Hall of Famer.  Lynch took this team from soft and old and carried it to back-to-back Super Bowls.  He allowed this team to bring its rookie franchise quarterback along slowly, and when it mattered most – in those playoff games – Beastmode brought his game to another level.  Ultimately, I think it’s his performances in the playoffs that will carry him into the Hall of Fame (in spite of his famous discontent with the NFL media), and it’s why I have him ranked so high on my list.  Third, I’ve got Sherm.  He’s the greatest cornerback in team history.  Period.  4 Pro Bowls and 3 First Team All Pros in his 6 seasons, and he has yet to miss a game as soon as he entered the starting lineup.  I don’t know how much longer he’ll be a member of this team, but as long as he is, he’s on my present-day Mount Rushmore.  And, fourth, I’ve got Russell Wilson.  I could’ve gone any number of directions here – Wagner, Kam, Bennett, Avril, K.J., Doug – and indeed, any number of those guys might end up making the Hall of Fame alongside my top 4, but I’m rolling with the QB.  In spite of the fact that for quarterbacks nowadays, it’s probably harder than ever to make the Hall of Fame, what with all the passing records that are falling, and how difficult it is to last in this league for 10, 15 years or more.  And make no mistake, Russell has A LONG WAY to go.  5 seasons, 3 Pro Bowls, no All Pros.  It’s especially questionable when you consider the step back he took last year with lots of injuries and behind an ineffective O-Line.  For this choice, I’m going mostly on faith, and I do have faith that Russell will reach all of his goals and go down as one of the greats of this era.  Disregarding all of that, right now, for what he is, Russell is the guy that stirs the drink.  This team doesn’t do what it’s done without Russell Wilson behind center.  No Super Bowls (plural), no division titles (plural), not nearly as many 10-win seasons (he’s 5 for 5 in his short career, no pun intended) with a replacement-level player.  Quarterback is the most important player on every NFL team, and the Seahawks are no exception.  As such, he’s making my Mount Rushmore over the rest.

Tomorrow, I’m going to pick from among the above-listed 16 players and come up with a definitive Mount Rushmore for Seattle Pro Athletes.  Weeeee!