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That’s a bold proclamation, but I’m a bold individual.
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.
* That I choose to cover, because I don’t give a fudge about the ones I don’t.
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.
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Edgar Martinez
- Felix Hernandez
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.
- Gary Payton
- Jack Sikma
- Fred Brown
- 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).
- Steve Largent
- Walter Jones
- Cortez Kennedy
- 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).
- Earl Thomas
- Marshawn Lynch
- Richard Sherman
- 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!
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.
I stayed up through the whole game, everyone! Keep your chins up!
Look, I’m not gonna lie to you, Day 1 kinda got away from me a little bit. It took me a while to get going on Day 2, but I eventually ventured out of my apartment, grabbed a couple coffees and some scratch tickets, and even worked in a shower before I sweated myself through the second game of the weekend.
I threw $190 into scratch tickets and walked away with $30 when all was said and done, but it’s not all champagne wishes and caviar dreams for Steven A. Taylor. There’s also copious amounts of line waiting! We left South Lake Union around a quarter to 3, Ubering our way to 1st & Edgar Martinez Way to the sight of yet another fuckload of people waiting in lines to grab Day 2’s prize: a mini Griffey HOF plaque. We, no joke, got in the same line for the Left Field Entrance, at about the same distance as I was for Day 1. And lo and behold, we got our plaques.
We opted to stay in the stadium, as opposed to making our usual trek to Sluggers, because the 24 Retirement Ceremony was starting at 5:30, and we sure as shit didn’t want to miss it. Since we were starving, food was our #1 priority. I made the mistake of ordering a Mariner Dog (ate two bites and threw the rest away) and some Club Level “garlic” fries. You tell me, is this abomination an appropriate order of garlic fries?
That’s either garlic powder, or parmesan cheese, but there’s NO FUCKING GARLIC on that shit! Safeco, I expect better.
Once I got rid of that shit, I ended up walking a million miles to get a mediocre slice of pepperoni pizza and a cup of chocolate soft serve ice cream, before turning my attention to the $6 Tecates they sell at the Hit It Here Cafe. Beer: you can’t fuck up beer.
The ceremony was fantastic. The Mariners know how to do one thing well, and that’s throw a party for their greats. The usual suspects showed up, from Alvin Davis, to Dan Wilson, to Jay Buhner, to Jamie Moyer, to Edgar Martinez wearing a backwards cap, to Dave Niehaus’ widow; while a bunch of shockers popped in, like Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, Gary Payton, Spencer Haywood, Rickey Henderson, and others. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Kobe Bryant, and even Jeff Gordon had jumbotron salutes. It was truly a star-studded affair.
We even got a Griffey speech with almost no blubbering! It was everything you could ever want from a ceremony!
Then, the game happened, and I don’t even know anymore. Like the previous night, Mike Trout hit a 3-run homer in the first to put the Mariners at a huge disadvantage. Unlike the previous night, the Mariners were unable to respond with more than a single run in the bottom half of the inning. But, in spite of Taijuan Walker’s mediocre return from the DL (4 innings, 6 runs), the Mariners continued to chip away! 1 run in the first, another in the third (Guillermo Heredia’s first ever homer), 2 runs in the fifth (Guti homer, to pull him within a triple of the cycle), and 4 runs in the seventh (a Leonys Martin sac fly, and a MONSTER 3-run homer from the hero of the night, Shawn O’Malley).
It was truly a magical night. Shawn O’Malley even followed up his game-winning homer with a diving stab the next inning to take a hit away from them, resulting in chanting from the sellout crowd. Was I JUST complaining of O’Malley’s defense earlier this week? I don’t recall that! Surely t’was some other blogger! Was I among those leading the chants for the rest of the evening? No hypocrite guy, but MAYBE!
Big ups to the bullpen tonight, for picking up where Taijuan failed to leave off. Cody Martin went 2.2, Drew Storen got the last out in the 7th (and the win). Wilhelmsen came in to dominate the 8th, and Edwin Diaz got the game sealing double play to close out the 9th. Bing, bang, boom, Mariners defeat Angels 8-6, and we all went home delirious.
Day 3 happens later today, and I, for one, can’t wait.
I TOLD YOU I’D SHOOT, BUT YOU DIDN’T BELIEVE ME! WHY DIDN’T YOU BELIEVE ME?
Yesterday, I hit upon the good things we’ve seen in this Mariners season. Today: the rest.
Like yesterday, let’s start on the hitting side. Nori Aoki is the obvious huge disappointment, as he entered this season on the heels of not only a fruitful career in Japan, but a solid and productive 4-year MLB career as he bounced around from the Brewers to the Royals to the Giants. I mean, like clockwork, the guy was batting in the .280’s every season, with solid on-base numbers, minimal power, and enough defense to make the whole package pretty enticing. This year, however, his power has gone completely in the toilet, and his batting average is 40 points lower than normal. His stolen base output has declined every year since coming to America, and this year is no exception, as he has 4 stolen bases against 7 caught stealing. His left field defense is suspect at best, and his centerfield defense was a God damn neverending sewage-eating contest. It’s been so bad for Aoki this year that he was sent down to Tacoma (where, to his credit, he’s regained some of his old form at the plate, albeit in only 11 games), which all points to one thing: age. He’s 34 years old, and it’s very reasonable to boil all this down to him just being on the downslope of his career. Don’t take it hard, Aoki, plenty of players even better than you have come to Seattle in their twilight years only to die the True Death.
Adam Lind is my other everyday player (or quasi-everyday) catching some shade today, although I have a hard time really disliking the guy. He seems like a really cool dude, and I like him as a player a helluva lot more than I did Smoak, LoMo, or Montero. I do still think he’s got a bit of a turnaround in him this year, but I’m not sure that belief is entirely based in reality. Lind had a pretty awful April, playing most every day. He started to pick it up in May, but then he went right back in the toilet in June, so I dunno. As noted yesterday, Dae-ho Lee is rightly eating into Lind’s playing time, as the team is trusting Lee more and more against right-handed pitching. Should Lee continue to prove he’s capable of playing and producing on an everyday basis, we could be looking at a situation where Lind is relegated to backup status (getting occasional starts against righties, and/or when the team opts to put Cruz in the outfield and play Lee & Lind at the same time). It’s just a bummer, because I figured Lind, of anyone we brought in this year, would be a guy you could count upon to play to his career norms.
And that’s it! I’m moving on to the pitchers, because they’ve been a neverending source of rage and agita in my life this season.
Right at the top of the list – indeed, the most disappointing development of the entire 2016 Mariners season – has been the health of Felix Hernandez. I mean, he’s far and away my favorite player on this team, and far and away my favorite local athlete playing today (he also sits on my local Mount Rushmore next to Gary Payton, Steve Largent, and Edgar Martinez, but that’s neither here nor there). Going into any Mariners season, my worst nightmare has always been if King Felix gets injured. By and large, over the previous ten seasons, I’ve mostly managed to dodge that harsh reality, but this year, both myself and the team has been cock-slapped by his absence. This year’s team has EASILY had the best lineup of hitters we’ve had ’round these parts since Felix has become a Major Leaguer. And, at least through the first couple months, this team as a whole looked like it had the best chance to make the post-season in the same span. As a die-hard Mariners fan, all we’ve wanted to see over the last decade was Felix Hernandez pitching in the post-season. To reward him for his baffling loyalty to this organization, and prove to the world that he made the right decision (or, at the very least, to show that it wasn’t all for naught). The panic in all of our hearts has always been, “WE NEED TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS WHILE FELIX IS STILL IN HIS PRIME! WE’RE WASTING HIS MOTHERFUCKING PRIME, YOU GUYS!” So, to have him go down with this calf injury, when – 1. we have the best team around him we’ve ever had, and 2. our pitching depth is as poor as it’s ever been, and ergo he’s never been more needed – is truly a cosmic Fuck You to every Mariners fan still foolish enough to follow this team.
I didn’t mean to push this section into a second paragraph, but here’s my point: where would the Mariners be if Felix had never gotten injured? He went down on May 27th. We’ve gone 17-25 ever since. In the starts that he missed (counting every five days, assuming no rotation shuffling), the Mariners have gone 3-5, including Paxton’s initial disaster of a start on June 1st, a mediocre Miley start on July 9th, and a few hard-luck defeats where the offense didn’t necessarily show up (or, commonly known as your average Felix start). A healthy Felix would conservatively get you two more wins in that stretch, with a very reasonable possibility of him pitching a shutout in there and squeezing out a third. But, a healthy Felix also slots out some of the shakier pitchers who have made appearances in the rotation. Maybe a healthy Felix – combined with Paxton’s resurgence down in Tacoma – bumps Karns out of the rotation sooner. Maybe it prevents Adrian Sampson’s call-up (and subsequent arm injury that cost him his season). Maybe we don’t have a potentially-useless LeBlanc to kick around. MAYBE, it allows us to DL Taijuan Walker sooner – which I’m on record as saying we should have done in the first place – because we’re not so obsessed about our awful pitching depth. There are endless What If’s out there, all surrounding the injury of our Ace.
But, it also bears mentioning that even when Felix was healthy this season, he didn’t look quite right. Dating back to last year, Felix has been prone to getting knocked around a little bit in some starts. His velocity is way down (even more than usual), and his command hasn’t quite been there. Was the injury causing that? Is it the natural effect of aging (he may only be 30 years old, but he’s got a billion miles on his pitching arm right now)? It’s something to watch, as he makes his rehab starts ahead of an expected return to the Majors next Wednesday. Please be healthy and good again, Felix! We need you more than ever before!
I devoted more of this post than I’d anticipated on King Felix, so let me run through the rest of the pitching disappointments as quickly as possible.
Wade Miley – Fuck You!
Joel Peralta – Good Fucking Riddance!
Wade Miley – Fuck You Again, I can’t wait until this team cuts your ass!
Joaquin Benoit – Over-priced, spent time on the DL, has been garbage since his return. Not the 8th inning enforcer we traded for.
Nathan Karns – 5 & Dive specialist we haven’t seen since Erik Bedard. Not a long-term solution to our rotation woes.
Hisashi Iwakuma – A .500, middle-of-the-road pitcher who might be an okay 3rd or 4th starter, but is past his prime and no longer a viable #2.
James Paxton – Has the stuff to be an ace, but for some reason always gets killed by dribblers, dinks, and dunks (and poor defense).
Taijuan Walker – This injured foot has killed what was once a promising season in his development; a chronic set-back that likely won’t resolve until after the season ends.
Tony Zych – Probably this team’s 2nd best reliever (after Diaz), whose injury issues will cost him almost the entire season.
Charlie Furbush – Has been out the whole year, is set to return soon, but will probably be terrible.
Tom Wilhelmsen – Has returned, has been okay in his first few appearances, but the other shoe is right here, just waiting to drop.
Fernando Rodney – A HUGE Fuck You! Pitches like dogshit last year for the Mariners, gets demoted, gets released, then comes back this year to have his very best-ever season? What the fuck?! Eat all the dicks, you turd!
Steve Cishek – For making me long for the days of the Fernando Rodney Experience. Whereas Rodney’s appearances were always a slow bleed for 30 minutes, followed by complete disaster; Cishek just stabs you in the gut, then comes back two days later to jam his thumb into your festering wound.
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.
Last year’s edition of Seahawks Death Week wasn’t a whole lot of fun. A lot of rage and soul searching went into those posts, as well as a lot of not writing about sports at all. Just shutting down in hopes of getting to the next month with a clearer head.
This time around, it’s actually not that bad. When you have a Lowest Possible Moment as a sports fan, any other bad moments you have after that will always pale in comparison. Oh, the Seahawks lost to the Panthers in the Divisional Round? Well, at least they didn’t blow a Super Bowl by getting too cute with the play calling!
My point is, yeah, it sucks not having football anymore, but at least I’m not questioning whether I should even follow the sport anymore. At least I’m not so aggravated that I’m worried about sending myself to an early grave (for what it’s worth, there are many other ways with which I AM sending myself to an early grave, but being a Seahawks fan thankfully isn’t one of them). If I can get over the Seahawks throwing the ball from the 1-yard line, I can get over this trivial nonsense, because literally everything is trivial nonsense when compared to the Worst Thing In The World.
Yes, there is a lot to pick at with this team, but today I’m going to try to stick to only positive things. From this point forward. Probably.
For starters, the 2015 Seahawks won more games than they lost. That’s always a good place to start. 10-6 regular season record, not too shabby. Good for a Wild Card berth, which easily makes us one of the top 12 teams in the league, and when you discount the Texans and Redskins right off the bat, you’re talking about one of the 10 best teams in the league. If this were college, and we’re talking about rankings, there’s an argument to be made that the Seahawks were one of the 5 best teams in all of football. I know the season didn’t end the way we wanted, but watching quality football week-in and week-out always beats the alternative.
On top of that, I think it’s important that this is a team that you can be proud of. The Seahawks had to overcome SO MUCH coming into this season! I don’t know what’s harder, getting over the Super Bowl hangover after you’ve won it all, or getting over the Super Bowl hangover after you lost, but I don’t think there’s anything worse than getting over a Super Bowl hangover after you lost the way we lost last year. That shit is magnified times a million. Not only is that your last image of your previous season, but that image is replayed for you over and over and over again, all off-season, and all during the next season. I wish I had kept a record of how many times we were all forced to re-watch that play throughout 2015, but it had to have been in the dozens.
If the Seahawks had finished around 8-8, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised. The target was on their backs for a second straight year, the dark cloud of humiliation was constantly hovering, they were tired and fractured and questioning everything they knew about the game of football. And yet, they plowed through, beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and got stronger as the season went along. They started the season playing like a mediocre, middle-of-the-road also-ran; they finished the season as one of the best teams in the game. What ultimately was their undoing – it could be argued – is that their crappy start was too much to overcome. A Seahawks team – playing as well as they were in December – with home field advantage in the playoffs would’ve been a force to be reckoned with. Instead, having to go on the road for the duration of the post-season was ultimately too much, and a terrible first half in Carolina did them in.
Regaining the players’ fire and passion for the game makes this one of the best coaching jobs of Pete Carroll and Co.’s careers.
2015 looks to go down as the turning point in the Pete Carroll Era of his Seahawks tenure. Up until now, the Seahawks have been a defensive juggernaut, with the offense doing just enough to survive. Not counting the strike-shortened 1982 season, 2012-2014 were the three greatest seasons in Seahawks history from a “points allowed” perspective (we gave up 231 points in 2013, 245 in 2012, and 254 in 2014). Obviously, those were all best in the NFL for those respective years, and 2015 was no different, as we gave up 277 points, good for 6th all time in franchise history (non-strike year edition).
The offense the last few years has been pretty good, of course. But, in 2015, the offense made a huge leap forward, scoring 423 points, good for second all time in franchise history. 256 of those 423 points came in the final 8 regular season games, or nearly 61% of our total output. That coincides with the huge leap forward in Russell Wilson’s play (and, by proxy, the offensive line). And, when you talk about 2015 being a “turning point”, you can’t forget that this was the season where Russell Wilson elevated his game to the next level. Where, if he can keep it up for the long haul, he’s looking at a probable Hall of Fame career.
Wilson has always been good. You don’t get to back-to-back Super Bowls if your quarterback isn’t good. But, take a look at his numbers this year compared to an average of his numbers from 2012-2014, and you’ll see what I’m talking about:
- 2012-2014: 265/417, 63.5% completions, 3,317 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, 6 Fumbles
- 2015: 329/483, 68.1% completions, 4,024 yards, 34 TDs, 8 INTs, 3 Fumbles
I mean, that’s a massive increase in production. If he matches those numbers – or hell, if he manages to get BETTER – you’re talking about a consistent MVP candidate every year for the next decade. 2015 will go down in Seahawks lore as the year Russell Wilson started to put it all together. Just think, we’re right at the start of his prime! And he MIGHT be even better than anything we’ve seen to date!
Wilson’s improved play obviously trickled down to the receivers. Doug Baldwin was the primary beneficiary, and it’s nice to see him start to get the recognition he deserves. 78 receptions, 1,069 yards, and 14 TDs were all career highs, the 14 TDs tying him for the league lead with Brandon Marshall and Allen Robinson. 11 of those 14 TDs came during an all-time great outburst of production over five games, from Week 12 thru Week 16. Here’s to hoping it continues, and the Wilson to Baldwin connection goes down in Seahawks history with the likes of Krieg to Largent (or, I guess Zorn to Largent, I can never remember who Largent did more with).
2015 was a markedly down year for Marshawn Lynch (and sadly, probably the last for him in a Seahawks uniform), but it saw the rise of Thomas Rawls, before he was tragically cut down with a broken ankle in Week 14. Before that, in somewhat limited action, he ran for 830 yards and a 5.6 yards per carry average (both leading the team). As this was his rookie season, we should still have him under team control for the next few years. If he recovers from his injury and returns to form, the offense doesn’t skip much of a beat if the team indeed lets Lynch go. Rawls is still a rookie, and has some stuff to work on (mostly his hands in the pass-catching part of his game), but there’s a lot to like about where this team is headed as we enter in the great unknown of a Lynch-less future.
Speaking of other exciting, productive rookies, Tyler Lockett was an All Pro returner who just so happened to quickly integrate himself into the offense as the team’s third receiver. He finished his rookie season third on the team in yards with 664, and second on the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns with 51 and 6 respectively. His speed is among the best in the league, allowing our offense to take out the top of opposing defenses; even when he’s not catching long bombs, he’s a weapon other teams have to plan around, opening up options underneath for guys like Baldwin, Kearse, and Graham.
Speaking of Kearse and Graham, I thought they were wildly successful in 2015 and I hope to have both back in the fold going forward. Kearse is a free agent, so it’s unknown at this time what his market is going to be. It’s also unknown how much the Seahawks are willing to allocate to him, with so many other needs on the roster. Kearse isn’t flashy, but he’s gotten better every year. He’s got reliable hands and a good rapport with Wilson. As Baldwin ascended to become one of the top receivers in the league, Kearse sort of supplanted him as Wilson’s security blanket. You’re not going to get a ton of big plays out of him, but he runs good routes, and he’s physical. As a fan since his UW days, I could understand it if the Seahawks moved on, but I have to admit I’d be a little heartbroken to see him in another uniform (maybe watch out for the 49ers on this one; he seems like a guy who’d be right up their alley as they try to replace Anquan Boldin).
Graham, on the other hand, caught a lot of shit early on this season. Well, partly Graham, and partly the offensive coordinator. I always liked the move to bring Graham in (though, I’ve come around on the point that the Seahawks should probably build up their receivers from within, as opposed to trading or signing for big name studs); I thought Unger was poised to continue breaking down (he ended up playing in all 16 games for the Saints, but he is getting up there in age), and I thought we could get by with the guys we had in camp along our offensive line. But, when the team struggled out of the gate – and the offensive line played like a turnstile – it was obvious all around that the team had miscalculated some things in their off-season plan. Letting Unger and Carpenter go proved to be a major setback, much more glaring than we ever could have anticipated. And, with the Seahawks struggling to get Graham the ball through the first five weeks of the season, the whole thing looked like an unmitigated disaster! But, I’ll say this: Graham’s numbers improved as the season went along and everyone got more comfortable with everyone else. The offensive line settled down with Patrick Lewis, giving Wilson time to throw, and Bevell finally figured out the right plays to call to get the most out of our Pro Bowl tight end. While Graham’s touchdown numbers never came around, he had big games against the Panthers, Cowboys, and Steelers before he was lost for the season with a torn patellar tendon. On the plus side, he should make a full recovery, and the hope is for his rapport with Wilson to get better and better. If we can just figure out how to get him the ball in the red zone, there won’t be any stopping us!
This post is already starting to balloon on me, so instead of cramming the defense in today, I’ll save that post for tomorrow. In spite of my negativity towards that unit, there is still a lot to like about that side of the ball, for 2015 and going forward.
I’ve made no secret about it: I’m one of those insufferable assholes who originally jumped on the Seattle Mariners’ bandwagon during the closing few weeks of the 1995 season. I would have been 14 years old at the time, which quite honestly is pretty late in the game, as far as getting into a new sport is concerned. You normally develop those lifelong attachments to your sports teams in your childhood, in the 8-10 years old range.
At some point in the mid-to-late 80s (I want to say the 1987 range), I started getting into the Seahawks. By 1988, I was on a 3 packs a week habit (football cards, Topps). By 1989 and 1990, it was probably closer to 6 packs (Pro Set). I joined my dad’s work’s NFL Pick ‘Em pool against all the adults and even won some weeks (at $5 per entry per week, that was a solid chunk of change for a kid under 10 years of age). I was a football lifer, no doubt about it.
In 1993, I started getting heavily into the NBA and the Sonics. So, maybe they were my gateway drug into other sports. Regardless, baseball has always been my third sports love, and that’s probably the way it’s always going to be (even though I mostly ignore the NBA now and will continue to do so until Seattle gets a team again).
I was always aware of the Mariners existing, as a kid. They were consistently losing, so I didn’t really see the point in paying attention. I didn’t have a parent or other type of older person I looked up to who were baseball fans. I come from a family of football fans, period. Any other sports would have to be pursued on my own.
But, in 1995, the Mariners were surging in the standings, and drawing attention all across the nation. FINALLY, Seattle had winning baseball, and the sports bandwagoners ate it up.
I was also generally aware of Ken Griffey Jr., but I don’t know if I could say he was a hero of mine or anything. My first sports idol was Steve Largent. My second and third were, in some order, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. By the time I started getting into the Mariners, Griffey was more national icon than simply a local superstar. And, when I was that age, contrarian that I was in my know-it-all teens, I didn’t want to be some mope who went along with the crowd (even though that’s exactly who I was, jumping on the bandwagon when I did). I was more of a Randy Johnson man, or a Jay Buhner man.
But, that’s not to say I disliked Griffey. Indeed, I revered him as much as anyone in sports. He was truly one of the best baseball players alive, and to have him on the Mariners was some sort of good fortune I just took for granted at the time. With all the stars on the Sonics, and an all-time legend in Largent on the Seahawks, I just figured every team in every sport had at least one superstar and they always would.
Looking back on it now, I sort of wish I’d been a fan from the very beginning of his career. It’s hard to appreciate the whole arc of his story, when I started somewhere in the middle. By the time I was paying attention to Griffey, he was the best player on the planet. So, all I’ve known of him has been the mythology, and the slow fall from grace.
I had about 4.25 good years as a fan of Ken Griffey Jr. before he forced his way out. Obviously, there was the 1995 miracle finish that came JUST short of a World Series appearance. At that point, we figured the sky was the limit for the Seattle Mariners, and there would be many MANY consecutive years of playoff appearances. In 1996, we were cut down by Randy Johnson’s injury, and a pisspoor bullpen. In 1997, we made it back to the playoffs, but we sold our soul to do it (the Lowe/Varitek trade & the Cruz trade). And even then, we lost in the first round. 1998 & 1999 were essentially lost seasons, and the beginning of the end of those Mariners teams (it really started with the Tino Martinez trade, but continued with the Randy Johnson trade, and climaxed with the Griffey trade).
So much of being a Mariners fan is being jerked around by ownership and then hoping for the best. It’s been that way since the very beginning. In my formative years as a Mariners fan, it was endless penny-pinching by ownership. We made all those trades in the mid-to-late 90s, one by one stripping this team of all its quality players and superstars, and yet there really wasn’t a noticeable penalty. By 2000 and 2001, the Mariners were magically one of the best teams in baseball, and you can look at the guys we got in return from some of those trades (Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, Mike Cameron) as real building blocks in our rise to prominence. Those teams didn’t have the flash that the mid-90s teams had, but they were solid, and they got the job done in the regular season.
Yet, you can point to losing Randy Johnson (who would go on to win multiple Cy Young Awards), Tino Martinez & Jeff Nelson (who would go on to win multiple World Series titles with the Yankees), Ken Griffey Jr. (who went on to have moderate, injury-plagued success with the Reds), and later Alex Rodriguez (who took the biggest contract offer he could get, which obviously would never come from this Mariners organization), as the reason why this team never achieved any playoff success whatsoever.
If we focused on building around our stars, instead of shipping them off for adequate role players, maybe we wouldn’t have had some of the regular season successes we had in the early 2000’s, but a team with Randy, Tino, Nelson, Griffey, and A-Rod is sure as shit built for post-season glory. It’s easy to look back on it now and say, “It’s so simple!” But, at the time, with the Mariners rocking and rolling for the most part, it was understandable to think the good times would only continue.
When news hit of Griffey demanding a trade, I honestly don’t remember how I felt. Disappointment, mostly. I don’t think I really understood what was happening or why it was happening. We were fed the line of Griffey wanting to be closer to home, closer to family, but I don’t think I entirely bought it then, and I still don’t think I entirely buy it now. This Mariners organization has always been kind of a mess. The product on the field always should have had better results. But, the people in charge of personnel kept screwing things up at every possible turn, and the owners didn’t have the fortitude or the mental capacity to reward their very best players with contracts commensurate to their value on the open market. On the one hand, you can laud the organization for getting SOMETHING in return for some of these players they shipped off; but on the other hand, God dammit!
My disappointment with the Griffey situation soured a bit when it became public knowledge that he ONLY wanted to be traded to the Reds, which severely limited our ability to negotiate the best possible deal. Then again, knowing this organization’s track record in major trades, it’s highly probable that whoever they would have traded Griffey to would have seen a return on par with the bust of the century. I think I let that rage subside when the Mariners managed to improve (helped in large part by Mike Cameron being a fan favorite), while the Reds never really did much. In the end, I would come to feel sorry for Griffey, as it seemed he could never stay on the field for any prolonged stretch. He had one quality year on par with his Mariners numbers, in his very first season with the Reds. After 2000, you’ll see large gaps in his playing time due to injury. By the time he managed to stay healthy for a full year again, it was 2007, his last All Star season. In 2008, he was traded to the White Sox for their playoff run (losing in the ALDS), only his third appearance in the post-season (the other two, obviously, being with the Mariners).
In 2009, Jackie Z brought Griffey back on as our primary DH. It was a way to see if he could prolong his career, while at the same time a nice gesture for the fans. No one really expected much out of him or the team, but the Mariners managed a winning record against all odds, and Griffey himself had a decent campaign (19 homers in 117 games). It would be the perfect end to a Hall of Fame career … until everyone got cute and tried to capture lightning in a bottle twice. 2010 was a definite black mark for everyone involved. On the last day of May, Griffey had one hitless pinch hit at-bat in the 9th inning of a 5-4 loss to the Twins in Safeco Field. This came after sitting on the bench for a full week, which was probably a sign of things to come. Instead of milking out the last sour drops of his career, Griffey chose to retire on the spot, driving home to Florida and letting the team know via a phone call on the road.
Being a fan of Griffey was never dull, I’ll say that. As a Mariner, he was the face of Major League Baseball for a decade; that was pretty cool. He put up some crazy, insane, cartoon numbers as a hitter; he made some crazy, insane, cartoon plays in the outfield. He was, without question, the greatest baseball player I’ve ever seen, and probably will ever see. He has my utmost respect as an athlete, and I’ll always look back fondly on his Mariners career.
One of the great things you can point to with Griffey is that he did it the right way. Meaning, he didn’t cheat. He didn’t prolong his career and boost his numbers by ingesting illegal or immoral pharmaceuticals. Of course, we don’t know that for sure, but I’m not going to sit here and try to make the argument that he might have. What we know is that his name has never come up in any implications on the topic. He’s never had the aura of suspicion like Bonds, Clemons, and Sosa. He’s also never outright admitted it, like McGwire, A-Rod, Palmeiro and the like. We do know that he saw most of the latter half of his career on the DL, as opposed to someone like Bonds, who not only saw most of the latter half of his career in perfect health, but putting up bonkers numbers he never even approached in the first half of his career. If Bonds had chosen to stay clean, he most likey wouldn’t have broken the home run record, and he most likely wouldn’t have stayed as healthy as he did. But, he would have been a Hall of Famer, and a first-ballot Hall of Famer at that. Instead, he cheated, and he’s likely never getting in.
With Griffey, you can simply give him the ol’ eye test. Knowing what we know – that he was never implicated, that he never admitted to doing anything illicit, that he found himself on the DL more often than not in the second decade of his career – you can watch him age through the years and put a pretty firm assumption down that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Griffey aged like a baseball player of his calibre SHOULD age. He didn’t suddenly put on 40 pounds of muscle and start hitting 50-70 homers a year in his late 30s. He put on however many pounds of fat, and was left to his natural born gifts to push him through to his 23 years in the Major Leagues. That’s what it means by doing it the “right way”. That’s why he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and why he received the highest percentage of votes for a first year nominee in the history of the Hall of Fame (all but 3 voters selecting Griffey). In an era where the cheaters outnumbered the clean, Griffey stayed clean and STILL crushed everything in his path.
I don’t have a particular Griffey-centric moment that stands out above all others, except obviously I do, and it’s of him scoring the go-ahead run from first base against the New York Yankees in the fifth game of the ALDS in 1995. It’s that, and obviously, it’s that iconic picture of him underneath Bob Wolcott and all the other Mariners mobbing him at home plate. I don’t totally think it’s fair, though, because they call that moment “The Double” because that’s really Edgar’s moment more than it is Griffey’s or anyone else’s. If I had to pick a moment that was just Griffey’s, I don’t think I could. Because my memory has gone to shit, and because – again – I wasn’t a fan until that stretch run in 1995. I didn’t see him play with his dad and hit back-to-back homers with Ken Griffey Sr. I didn’t see him blossom into the superstar he would become. Hell, I didn’t even see him break his hand while making that catch against the wall that kept him out of the majority of the 1995 season!
You know what weirdly stands out? It’s not even a particular moment, per se. But, in 1996, the Mariners were playing out a string of meaningless games, with no chance of making the playoffs. There was a series in Cleveland, and one of the games was rained out (another had to be pushed back to a Day/Night Doubleheader). In one of the rainout games, Griffey hit a homer, but since it was rained out and never finished (and since it didn’t go past the 5th inning), the game never counted. The game was never made up, because it wouldn’t have made a difference for either team’s placement in the standings (the Mariners were out of it, and the Indians were so far ahead in their division that it didn’t matter). So, essentially, the Mariners only played 161 games in 1996. And, as a result of that game being rained out, taking away one of his home runs, Ken Griffey Jr. finished the season one homer shy of his first 50-homer season. I remember thinking how much that SUCKED, as reaching that 50-homer plateau was truly meaningful to me back then. Obviously, Griffey would go on to have back-to-back 56-homer seasons the next two years, but how cool would it have been to see him with three straight 50-homer seasons?
Ehh, maybe less cool, knowing what we know about that era and all the insane homer totals that were inflated by a bunch of cheating tools. Nevertheless, Ken Griffey Jr. is our shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark period for Major League Baseball.
The last time I did something like this, we were in the middle of the offseason in 2011. In all likelihood, I was looking for some way to fill space in the dreadful month of March when all the other local sports are effectively shut down and you can only say so much about Spring Training.
You may recall at the time that we were just coming off Pete Carroll’s first year with the team. We made the playoffs at 7-9 and upset the reigning champion Saints in the Beastquake Game. It was all very fun, but built on a house of cards. The roster was aging, as leftovers from the Holmgren Era clung for dear life. We drafted some promising rookies before the 2010 season – including Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor – which may go down as the all-time greatest draft class in franchise history (and, indeed, probably ranks pretty high in NFL history as well).
To be fair, my list of the greatest Seahawks of all time was pretty solid for what it was. But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now. So, I thought I’d go back and compare what my list would be today vs. what it was nearly four full years ago. Let’s go to town:
2011: Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn
2014: Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg
You’re going to see a pattern here as we go forward: better players from the current era will be pushing down players from previous eras. It’s difficult to compare someone like Wilson – who is working on his third year in the pros – against someone like Hasselbeck who played for us for so much longer. But, in this case, I’m going to keep it nice and simple: Russell Wilson led us to three playoff appearances, two division titles, two #1 seeds, and one Super Bowl title (pending what happens in this year’s playoffs). Wilson is a winner, and he’s the guy who’s starting for me in my hypothetical Greatest Seahawks Team Of All Time.
2011: Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Ricky Watters
2014: Marshawn Lynch, Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner
I opted to throw out the numbers here. If I went strictly by numbers, Shaun Alexander would still be the clear starter for this team. 9,429 yards and 100 TDs with the Seahawks for Alexander against 5,930 yards and 54 TDs with the Seahawks for Lynch. The numbers say it’s a no-brainer. But, I’m going with my heart on this one, and my heart says BEASTMODE!
2011: Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Paul Skansi
2014: Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin
So, the thing is, it’s going to be VERY difficult to overtake the top three (and damn near impossible to overtake the top receiver on my list, because Largent is my favorite), what with how this offense is constructed and executed. Furthermore, I realize Skansi was a reach, but I’m not sure I had a whole lot to work with. Also, with Golden Tate playing for the Lions now, he’s obviously stuck where he is, with no chance for advancement unless he – by some miracle – returns to the Seahawks. Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, if he sticks it out long term, could be a quick riser. We’ll see where we are in another 3-4 years. I could see someone like Baldwin topping out in the top 2 or 3.
2011: Itula Mili, John Carlson, Christian Fauria
2014: Zach Miller, Itula Mili, John Carlson
The tight end position for the Seahawks throughout history is a vast wasteland of sadness. Numbers might say that Jerramy Stevens deserves to be in the top 3, but numbers can suck my dick because Jerramy Stevens can suck my dick. Zach Miller is a lynchpin for this offense who’s equal parts offensive lineman and soft-hands-pass-catcher. He’s adorbs and I hope he gets well soon and sticks around another couple years. I also hope someone like Luke Willson improves his catching ability, because I could see him being a fast riser here too. It’s pretty sad that someone like Carlson is still hanging around on this list, what with how short his time was with us.
2011: Mack Strong, John L. Williams
2014: Mack Strong, John L. Williams
While the fullback position is going the way of the dodo bird, I still got love! And, while I think the world of Michael Robinson as a leader, a special teams stalwart, and a powerful lead blocker for Beastmode in previous seasons (before being forced into retirement and a new career in the media), there’s just no way his impact surpassed what Mack Strong and John L. Williams were able to do. And, not for nothing, but I think those two names are going to be 1 & 2 on this fullback list for the duration of my lifetime.
2011: Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
2014: Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
So, the thing here is: I’ve made a conscious decision to list a man for every spot along the line (as opposed to, say, listing the five best linemen regardless of where they played along the line). That having been said, if I felt like cheating (or, if I had the power of some sort of god), I’d probably look to put Russell Okung in at right tackle (because, let’s face it, he nor anyone else will be supplanting hall of famer Walter Jones). Max Unger is a curious omission, but quite frankly, he’s been too injured in his stint as this team’s starting center to get serious consideration. An interesting case will be J.R. Sweezy. If he sticks around and continues his trajectory of improvement, we could be looking at a switch at right guard. But, for now, Sweezy’s a little too loose in pass protection to take over that spot.
2011: Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Phillip Daniels
2014: Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Michael Bennett
Chris Clemons gets an honorable mention here. I’ve split these up by first and second team. Green & Sinclair are the clear 1 & 2 in Seahawks history and will be for the foreseeable future. Michael Bennett jumps up into the second team because he’s been a force since his return and can pretty much do it all. I opted to put him in with the ends because, to be honest, there are too many good defensive tackles, which you will see shortly.
2011: Cortez Kennedy, Joe Nash / Rocky Bernard, Sam Adams, John Randle
2014: Cortez Kennedy, Brandon Mebane / Joe Nash, Rocky Bernard
The only reason Mebane was left off of my 2011 list is because he hadn’t quite played long enough, and because there was a question about whether he’d be sticking around long term. Luckily for us, Carroll & Schneider saw fit to extend him, which has been a boon to our line. You get a great sense of his value with him out of the lineup, as there are many things we just can’t do without him. It has taken a rotation of 3-4 guys to try to make up for Mebane’s absence, which is about as impressive as it gets.
Also, can you IMAGINE what a defensive line would look like with a healthy Mebane in at nose tackle and an in-his-prime Cortez playing right alongside him? Partner those two up with literally any of the defensive ends I’ve listed above and you’re talking about a powerhouse line on par with some of the best in the history of the NFL!
And, for the record, I understand going with a 3-man second team in 2011 was a total cop out. Glad Mebane is here on this list to clean up my mess.
2011: Chad Brown, Lofa Tutupu, Rufus Porter
2014: Chad Brown, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright
So, yeah. In my hypothetical defense here, I’m sticking with just the lone middle linebacker, but I’ve opted to essentially interchange who plays at outside linebacker. In other words, I haven’t differentiated between strongside and weakside. K.J. Wright’s primary position is weakside, but I THINK that’s where Brown played as well. What puts Wright ahead of most other linebackers in Seahawks history is his versatility. He can play all three spots, he’s been a stud since he joined the team, and he was just extended long term. For the record, if I was picking linebackers regardless of position, Lofa certainly makes this list. But, Bobby Wagner is lethal and should be for many more years than Tatupu.
2011: Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant, Shawn Springs
2014: Richard Sherman, Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant
This one is kind of irritating. Right off the bat, Richard Sherman is the greatest cornerback we’ve ever had, full stop. Dave Brown is a Ring Of Honor member and a VERY good corner in his own right. Before Sherm came along, it was Dave Brown and everyone else a distant second. Now, if I’m going by any cornerback who has ever put on a Seahawks uniform, then I’m looking at either Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell over Trufant in a heartbeat (gun to my head: I probably pick Maxwell because he can play inside and outside corner spots). BUT, Trufant had a Ring Of Honor career in his own right, and Maxwell will only have a year and change as a starter before he moves on to another team (as the Seahawks surely won’t be able to afford to extend him). And, not for nothing, but Trufant in his prime was as good as any other corner, so I don’t feel SO bad putting him third on this list. Nevertheless, if the Seahawks do somehow find a way to squeeze blood from a stone and extend Maxwell, I’m coming back to this page and revising it immediately!
2011: Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson
2014: Earl Thomas, Kenny Easley, Kam Chancellor
If I’m being 100% honest, I’m probably not splitting up Earl & Kam if I’m starting up this team. But, I know I’m not the only one who wonders just what it would look like if Earl played alongside Kenny in his prime. SICK!
2011: Norm Johnson (Kicker), Rick Tuten (Punter), Steve Broussard (KR), Nate Burleson (PR)
2014: Steven Hauschka (Kicker), Jon Ryan (Punter), Leon Washington (KR), Nate Burlson (PR)
I hope I’m not totally jinxing things, but I’m taking Hauschka as my all-time kicker. Jon Ryan is sort of a no-brainer (he is, after all, the MVP of our hearts). Leon Washington, while short in his time with us, made a HUGE impact (plus, let’s face it, the Seahawks don’t have a long and storied history with kickoff returners; also, Percy Harvin can suck it). And the challengers to Nate Burleson’s throne never quite did enough (in this case, Joey Galloway – who didn’t last long as a return man – and Golden Tate – who was awesome, but is no longer with us, and wasn’t quite as dynamic).
So, there you have it. A blog post for Thursday. Giddyup.