BY Steve Rudman 07:04AM 01/27/2014

Picking Greatest Seahawk Not Easy, But Pick

Walter Jones has frequently been called the “greatest player in Seahawks history,” but is he? Below are a list of 10 candidates for that accolade. Vote here.

Matt Hasselbeck is the franchise leader in pass completions and passing yards. He threw 174 TD passes during his Seattle career (2001-10). / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

As he has moved through the nomination process for probable induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former Seahawks tackle Walter Jones has frequently been identified as “the greatest player in franchise history.” Certainly Jones’ portfolio is heftier than any other player to wear Seattle togs: Nine Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro selections.

Plus, Jones is considered a lock to achieve Hall of Fame entry when the Class of 2014 is announced Saturday, the day before Super Bowl XLVIII. That would make Jones a first-ballot enshrinee, and he would join WR Steve Largent (1976-89) as the only players in franchise history to achieve that distinction.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Jones, or even Largent, is the greatest player in team annals. If their length of service – 200 games for Largent, 180 for Jones – is added to their achievements, they probably rank 1-2.

But strong safety Kenny Easley (1981-87) would certainly have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer had not kidney issues derailed his career. He had that kind of ability.

Marshawn Lynch will probably find himself on a list similar to the one below someday. Maybe Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman as well. For now, we’ll confine the list of the 10 greatest Seahawks, listed alphabetically, to players who have finished their run with the franchise.

Shaun Alexander, RB (2000-07): Ran for more than 1,000 yards five times in his career and scored 100 touchdowns, tied for the seventh-highest total in NFL history. No NFL back had a three-year burst better than Alexander’s from 2003-05, when he ran for 3,481 yards and scored 77 TDs. Alexander is Seattle’s all-time leading rusher (9,453 yards) by a long shot and its only league MVP (2005).

Kenny Easley, SS (1981-87): If his career hadn’t ended prematurely, Easley would be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He earned Pro Bowl invitations five times in seven years and was the 1984 Defensive Player of the Year, the first safety so honored. Easley finished his career with 32 interceptions, fourth on the Seahawks career list.

Jacob Green, DE (1980-91): A two-time Pro Bowler (1986-87), Green made 176 starts for the Seahawks and still ranks – statistically – as the greatest pass rusher in franchise history. He recorded 116.0 sacks, 42.5 more than the next-highest total, Michael Sinclair’s 73.5. On Oct. 19, 1986, Green became the first Seahawk with 4.0 sacks in a game (N.Y. Giants).

Matt Hasselbeck, QB (2001-10): Acquired in a trade with Green Bay, Hasselbeck is the franchise leader in passing attempts (4,250), completions (2,559), yards (29,434) and second in touchdown passes (174). He represented Seattle in three Pro Bowls (2003, 2005, 2007) and twice recorded passer ratings above 90.0 (2005, 2007).

Steve Hutchinson, LG (2001-05): Selected by the Seahawks in the 2001 NFL Draft, Hutchinson made four Pro Bowl teams before his controversial exit to the Minnesota Vikings just weeks after the 2006 Super Bowl. With Walter Jones, Hutchinson formed the best, left-side run-blocking tandem in Seattle history.

Walter Jones, LT (1997-09): A finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame lass of 2014, Jones anchored Seattle’s offensive line with distinction for 12 years. He earned a team-record nine Pro Bowl invitations and made first-team All-Pro four times.

Cortez Kennedy, DT (1990-00): A Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 2012, Kennedy earned eight Pro Bowl appearances during his Seahawks career, notching his best season in 1992 when, on a 2-14 team, he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Dave Krieg, QB (1980-91): He played 12 years with the Seahawks, becoming synonymous with the franchise from the early 1980s through the early 1990s. “Mudbone” made three Pro Bowls, led the Seahawks to the 1984 AFC Championship game and threw 196 touchdown passes, the franchise record.

Steve Largent, WR (1976-89): When Largent retired following the 1989 season, he did so as a “Triple Crown” winner, the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Those marks have since been eclipsed, but Largent remains the ultimate Seahawk, the first player inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor (1989) and the first elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1995.).

Joe Nash, DT (1982-96): Nash lined up at nose tackle and defensive tackle for Seahawks for the entirety of his 15 seasons in the NFL. He made only one Pro Bowl, but he holds a record not likely to be surpassed. He played in 218 games for the Seahawks, most in franchise history.


YourThoughts

  • RadioGuy

    Wow, this one’s tougher than you might think at first blush. You could make a strong case for a lot of these guys but in the end, I went with Largent because he was so effective for so long and had the most effect on games over his career. If he’d played longer, I might have gone with Kenny Easley. People who never saw him play have only an idea of just how damned good he was.

    • jafabian

      For this list I think Williams, Curt Warner, Darrell Jackson or Mack Strong should be on it over Hutch. The bulk of Huth’s career has been in Minnesota and he chose to leave the team.

  • jafabian

    Not an easy decision. All in the poll are very deserving. Cortez stands out to me though because not only of his play, which got him into the Hall of Fame, but he stood up to the Behrings and stated that moving the franchise to California was wrong. When’s the last time a pro athlete did that? That in itself is so unique and so “Seahawk” it gets me to vote for Tez.

  • dcinoly

    For me, it has to be Steve Largent. Anyone who gave Lester Hayes nightmares (that he admitted to!) is my numero uno!!

  • oldfan

    Great memories of all these guys.
    How to you measure greatness? If it’s based strictly on accomplishments I have go with Walter Jones. To be that good, for that long, and garner all those accolades at a spot that usually gets little attention is amazing.
    But if we are picking by favorites, I’m going with Dave Krieg. A guy lacking in the physical tools of a great QB, but possessing what so many more talented QBs didn’t have – heart. How could you not love the guy?

    • steverudman

      Jones is No. 1 based on length of service. But must confess my favorite was Easley.

  • Joe Fan

    From this listing, I had to go with Largent. He was the “first” in so many categories and remains an admired and respected figure. I can’t wait to see who from the current roster will end up some day being included in this vote. So many great players on our current team. How many will stay with the team and perform consistently at a high level? I hope Pete and John can keep it rollin’.

    • RadioGuy

      Have to think Marshawn Lynch can be an all-timer if he stays. Richard Sherman, too. I really like Max Unger even though he’s a Duck (my problem with Oregon has always been their fans, not the players…even Ronnie Lee and the Kamikaze Kids back in the 70′s).

    • steverudman

      Lynch, from the current roster, would be first.

  • Matt712

    Walter and Cortez are are faves, but hands-down it’s Largent for me. He symbolizes everything we love about our current team. He wasn’t big enough, he wasn’t fast enough, and the team that drafted him was going to cut him when they traded him to Seattle before he ever played a regular season down… and he wasn’t even lucky enough to have landed in the ever-encouraging lap of a Pete Caroll. In fact, I can’t think of two coaches less ‘Caroll-like’ than Jack Patera and Chuck Knox under whom Largent did what he did.

    “Steve Largent, a 5-11, 187-pound wide receiver with only average size and
    speed but armed with exceptional determination and concentration, became
    one of history’s most outstanding pass catchers …..He was the fourth-round pick of the Oilers and the 117th player taken in the 1976 National Football League Draft. He played only four preseason games with Houston before being traded to the expansion Seahawks for an eighth-round draft pick.” – http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=123#sthash.FlQHVJaa.dpuf

    Hmmm… Now who does that remind you of?

  • joseph2311

    Walter Jones is considered by many to be the greatest left tackle in the history of the game, let alone the Seahawks franchise. I loved Largent growing up…but this is easy. Big Walt, hands down.