BY Art Thiel 06:27PM 01/03/2017

Thiel: An appreciation of a rare Seahawks feat

As many fret about a Seahawks team that doesn’t look like previous playoff teams, take a moment and look around the rest of the NFL and allow yourself to feel better.

As chaos consumes many other NFL outposts, the Seattle scene is serene under Pete Carroll. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Amid fervent hand-wringing among fans about the Seahawks’ ability to persevere in the playoffs, we pause to offer a reflection on a feat. No trophy or other award accompanies it. But given the discord, tumult and mayhem that are part of this week for the 20 clubs that failed to make the postseason, we offer this:


  • 8: New England Patriots (XLVI, XLIX), Green Bay Packers (XLV)
  • 5: Seattle Seahawks (XLVIII, XLIX)
  • 3: Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2: Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans
  • 1: Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons

The list demonstrates how diabolically hard it is to sustain annual quality in the NFL.  Only four teams currently have three or more consecutive playoff appearances. Fans who lament Seattle’s 10-5-1 record need to check to see if their minds remain hinged.

The measurement is particularly relevant this week given that two franchises in the NFC West imploded their regimes after poor seasons. The confusion in San Francisco, where a new general manager will choose the 49ers’ fourth head coach in four years, is particularly acute.

A dim nephew of the DeBartolo clan, Jed York, is attempting to run the franchise into the ground. Before Sunday’s with the Seahawks, he offed GM Trent Baalke. After the Niners’ 25-23 loss — the seventh in the past eight with Seattle — he fired coach Chip Kelly. A grim hat trick of enfeeblement.

In Los Angeles, coach Jeff Fisher, who insisted before the season that he wouldn’t go 7-9 again, fulfilled his promise by getting canned at 4-9 three days before the Dec. 15 game with the Seahawks. The Rams’ 4-12 season was the 12th loser in a row, and first one in LA, where owner Stan Kroenke’s poor decision-making has begun to alienate fans the way he pissed off Rams supporters when the team was in St. Louis.

Including the health-related retirement of the Broncos’ Gary Kubiak. the NFL has six coaching vacancies. That’s one fewer than a year ago at this time, but the season is not over. Among the 125 teams that play big-time college football, there’s been 19 coaching changes so far. Once the folks at Florida Atlantic University spend a full day around Lane Kiffin, vacancy No. 20 will be imminent.

Then there’s the Seahawks, where perhaps Pete Carroll’s biggest trial is remembering the names of all 19 players who ran the ball at least once this season (remember George Farmer and C.J. Spiller?). He and GM John Schneider extended their contracts before the season began.

Injuries and draft busts may thin the player ranks, but the empire created by Carroll and Schneider under owner Paul Allen is uncommonly serene at the management level.

For fans new to the area or burdened with short memories, the Seahawks not long ago were among the great unwashed.

Carroll upon his 2010 hire was Seattle’s third coach in three years. He succeeded the single year of Jim Mora, who followed Mike Holmgren. Holmgren’s final year in 2008 of 4-12 came just three years after the team’s first Super Bowl.

Holmgren’s early years were fraught with disagreements with club president Bob Whitsitt. So the kinds of intrigue causing so much management tumult around the NFL are hardly unknown here. Just readily forgotten.

No one appreciates more the relative dead calm than Carroll.

“This is a very difficult business,” Carroll said Tuesday. “It’s tough and changes quickly. Sometimes, it just feels like you can’t stop it from happening, and there you go, you’re out.”

His firings from the Patriots and the Jets have scabbed over, but remain tender.

“I’ve been fired enough,” he said. “I know what that’s like. We’ve been through it for years, even (as assistants) on staffs where (head coaches) have gotten fired.

“Sometimes for coaches who have not had any other experiences, they don’t know any better. They can’t appreciate it like I do, and guys who have been through it.”

With good reason, Carroll gushed about his gig here, which made it easy to laugh off the rumors he would succeed Fisher in LA, where he was once king as USC’s coach.

“We have great support and relationships with John and people throughout the building and with the owner, Paul Allen, who is extraordinary as an owner,” he said.  “We couldn’t ask for a guy who is more supportive, and more in tune. He knows what’s going on. He’s not just aloof and out of there. When he speaks, it’s meaningful.

“To coach in this environment, with the 12s and the whole thing, it’s awesome. I’m fired up every day I go to work.”

So yes, there is a playoff game Saturday against sixth-seeded Detroit (which, by the way, hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991), and the Seahawks are missing key people and a running game. Yet they’re eight-point favorites to move on to a division-round game in Atlanta. If they make it there, we’ll see what happens.

But if you get a minute when you’re not worrying about whether Lions QB Matt Stafford will beat Earl Thomas’s replacement over the top three times or four, take a look around the rest of the NFL. Five years in a row in the postseason is a thing. A fine thing.

Seahawks sign long snapper Tyler Ott, and returner Devin Hester

Because Nolan Frese has a sprained ankle, the Seahawks added Harvard grad Tyler Ott Tuesday to do the long-snapping Saturday.

Frese was placed on injured reserve, ending his season, after being hurt on his first snap in Sunday’s 25-23 win in San Francisco. He had trouble the rest of the game, including a punt snap that sailed over Jon Ryan’s head out of the end zone for a safety.

“He couldn’t run at all, so he was just clomping around on a totally casted foot to get through the game,” Carroll said on ESPN 710 Monday. “So the fact that he had a snap that got away from him, a lot of guys would not have finished the game. I give him credit for really just battling through it and giving us the best he could.”

The 6-3, 255-pound Ott played three games for Cincinnati this season and in one game in 2015 with the New York Giants.

“He’s played in games this year and he’s done well,” Carroll said. “His numbers are right as far as his tempo getting the ball back. We’re going for it like we’re not even going to think twice about it.”

Monday evening, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that the Seahawks signed returner Devin Hester, 34, to help replace injured Tyler Lockett. Hester is the third-leading punt returner in NFL history with 3,695 yards and 11th all-time in kickoff return yards with 11,333 in a career that began in 2006.

He was released by the Ravens in December after playing in 14 games. He also had a tryout with Denver.

Lockett had surgery to repair a broken fibula and tibia after the Dec. 24 game against the Rams. Sunday against the 49ers, CB Richard Sherman handled punts and newbie RB J.D. McKissic and WR Paul Richardson handled kickoffs.

Carroll hinted at a possible move Tuesday.

“So far, pretty much like last week,” Carroll said of the returners. “Stands the same until something changes.”

To make room on the 53-man roster, the Seahawks cut CB Tyvis Powell,  according to his Twitter account, where he wrote, “It’s all love for the Seahawks. Are u kidding me! They gave me an opportunity to live my childhood dream. I’m forever grateful for that.”


  • Steed

    These are the good old days for the Seahawks.

    • Amysstokes

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    • art thiel

      ‘Tis true.

    • Husky73

      Nice Carly Simon reference.

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  • RunningRoy

    In the land of the 12’s, you got to remember how good it is to be a 1 percent-ie. Life wasn’t always this grand for the current royalty. In the not so distant past, the Seahawks (10 seasons ’89-’98), Patriots (7 ’87-’93) and Packers (10 ’83-’92) all went through painful playoff droughts. Most teams would love to have the current Seahawks “problems.”

    • art thiel

      You’re right, Roy. Saturday will be the Seahawks’ 13th playoff game under Carroll. In the 34 years prior to his arrival, they had 17 total. And all of Carroll’s came in the post-93 era of free agency under a salary cap.

  • 1coolguy

    – Trojans’ NFL players Marquis Lee, George Farmer and Paul Richardson were all on the SAME Junipero Serra high school team – Richardson said Farmer was the fastest and the running back. How’d you like to be that team’s QB? Kris Richard went there also.
    and that’s only a part of that school’s NFL alumni.
    – Whatever happened to Farmer? Is he back on the practice squad? He PLAYED a few games ago. What’s up with him being so-so? A head case?
    – I know Eddie De has been ostracized from the NFL, but don’t you think, even as dense as York has proven to be, He would “meet” with Eddie De and Carmen Policy, who together built as good a run as any in NFL history, even if for osmosis’ sake? I had heard estimates of $30m to $60m in what SF owes to fired coaches and Baalke, the fired GM.
    – All said, I say the Hawks season ends in Atlanta, and given their AZ and SF games, their being a playoff team is truly an accomplishment.

    • art thiel

      Farmer is back on the practice squad. Pete still likes him, but he’s not as good as Alex Collins.

      Eddie D is Jed York’s uncle. They talk regularly. Makes no difference. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • DJ

    Good take, for sure. I do appreciate what we have going in Seattle, it’s tremendous, but am frustrated that this team hasn’t been able to capitalize on the lessons learned on sustaining their winning trend since winning the Superbowl. In addition, key positions either have grown or continue to sustain excellence since that time. Ideally, the team should be better, even with the loss of Lynch. However, issues like the offensive line experiment, not resigning seasoned long snapper Clint Gresham, etc., continue to morph into an increasingly mistake prone dead weight, dragging down much of the expected gains. Maybe some of the difficult behavior we’ve been seeing, such as Sherman’s lashing out, is a form of frustration about the same thing.

    • John Brown

      Four words: Salary Cap, Free Agency.

      • DJ

        Yep – agreed. Then it’s the choice of management which talent to invest in and secure. That’s what makes Carroll’s job so challenging – how to coach up all of the other positions on a consistent basis.
        In an inconsistent season, here’s to everyone rising up at the same time and giving it their best in their playoff run – GO HAWKS!!

    • art thiel

      John B says it well below. But DJ, you’re missing the point that every successful team gets preyed upon for coaches and players by other teams seeking the same success. Every year that a good team continues to pay big money to its veteran stars, the path becomes more difficult. Corners must be cut, and more risks taken. Inevitably, mistakes get made by all teams trying to manage under the salary cap

      That’s why I provided the list of consecutive playoffs reached.

      • DJ

        Thanks, Art – understood. I’ve digressed in to lamenting about our team’s weaknesses, but the reasons for those are not lost on me. I understand that it’s a vicious cycle where it’s not easy to get the whole team to align all parts to be strong and consistent on a repeated basis. Obviously, due to the issues that you and JB point out, you have to take a hit somewhere. Those teams, like Seattle, New England, and Green Bay, for example, have made some tough choices and have been able to manage what they have left into being successful. What they all have done is very impressive, and I’m very thankful that we have one of those franchises. GO HAWKS!

  • John Brown

    Since my first visit to the Kingdome for the ’78 home opener, this is as good as it gets. GO HAWKS!!!

    • art thiel

      You get a participation ribbon from Dan Doornink.

      • Steed

        But only if Dr. Dan accepts his health care plan.

  • Diamond Mask

    Thank you! Reading comments here, in the newspaper and on talk radio you’d think we were the worst team in the NFL. I listened in disbelief one day as a woman on the radio told John Clayton that she believes that if it wasn’t for Carroll’s terrible play calling that the Seahawks would go to the Super Bowl every year.

    Fans like that are an embarrassment.

    • art thiel

      Once some fans get a taste of success, they develop a sense of entitlement. They wrap too much of their endorphins around the success of a team, and get angry when denied their thrills.

      • John M

        True, Art, but we have grown to love our endorphins. We need them. Especially those of us that remember the horror of Kenny the man of Blackhawk, an owner so bad York will never achieve such wretchedness.

        Your article came just as I was thinking along the same lines. Thanks. We do have a very good football franchise . . .

    • Comrade C-attle

      That’s natural, a friend who plays fantasy football was ready to bench Baldwin cause of a bad game. I told him: the problem with local players is you either overrate them or underrate them cause you’re not judging them rationally but rather emotionally.

  • Paul Harmening

    Memories of what it’s like to not make the post season (once again) is only triggered by the Mariners, as that type of pain with the Seahawks is disappearing in our rear view mirror. As much as I have in the past despised NE for their success, and previous to NE, Dallas and the 49ers. I now find myself embracing their excellence because we in the great NW have something akin to that ourselves. And, I get a real kick out of everyone else starting to hate us like I most recently did NE, and in another lifetime Dallas and 49’ers. That’s a sign of greatness, and it’s really fun.

    Thanks Art for the reminder.

    GO HAWKS !

    • art thiel

      Whether in politics, or sports, or life in general, perspective is a worthy tool.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Some people choose to be buried in their team colors. Who are we to judge. I mean, I would never do it. But some do.

    • Comrade C-attle

      Seeing the state of the division foes, even a mediocre Seahawk team should be a playoff contender every year. Arizona may have good talent but it’s a QB league and Palmer is at the end of his career. Wilson is entering his prime (as for the 49ers and Rams, less said the better).

      • art thiel

        Things change fast in the NFL. Assume little about 2017.

    • Husky73

      I was also thinking of the Mariners. Perhaps the new owner, GM and manager can bond as the Seahawks have, and break the chains of despair that have surrounded the franchise since Diego Segui threw the first pitch for both major league teams.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    Not sure I buy into this “just be happy they got there” angle. Take a look at Buffalo and their 0-4 super bowls. Nobody remembers that they got there. We all know that they lost every one of those games. That is what they are known for. So if Carroll and the Hawks want a legacy which moves past the play which cannot be unseen, then they will need to win a title.

    • Pixdawg13

      They already won a title. Or did you sleep through that?

    • Husky73

      The Vikings are also 0-4.
      The Seahawks won a second title. I have dreamed it many times. Wilson over-ruled Bevell and handed off the properly inflated ball to Lynch and beat the Patriots.

      • art thiel

        See what happens when pot is legalized?

    • Comrade C-attle

      The fact you’re talking about them indicates they were remembered. Winning a title means your accomplishment will be remembered in the record books. There are great “losers” who are always remembered: Buffalo Bills of the 90s, Netherlands in 1974, 2007 Patriots,

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Great Losers. I like it. I just don’t want to have the hawks make that category.

        • Comrade C-attle

          The nature of the competition indicates only one team finishes on top. Would you tell a silver medalist the’re a loser?

          • MrPrimeMinister

            Not sure if NFL playoff football is comparable to gymnastics for instance. Or, in regards to Al Michaels’ “Do You Believe In Miracles” hickey game, maybe ask the Russians if they are happy with their medal?

          • Comrade C-attle

            The Soviets were disappointed cause they lost to an inferior team but it happens. Life isn’t lived in Manichean terms but too many sports fans see it that way.

    • art thiel

      How did you miss the NY Super Bowl?

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Sounds like y’all all are saying that one title erases the play which cannot be unseen. I submit, it is the opposite.

        • Jamo57

          The ultimate glass full/empty real life debate.

  • Husky73

    I think you can make a fairly strong argument that the Seahawks could be the best overall franchise in the NFL. New England may claim the pinnacle, but their continuous dabbling in the dark arts gives the edge to Seattle. The Seahawks’ owner, GM and coach are all top notch and attuned to each other. The Hawks have a beautiful training and headquarters facility, a magnificent stadium, the loudest fans in the game and sustained on-field excellence.

    • art thiel

      Pats, GB, PIT and SEA are my four best-operated franchises, in no particular order.

  • Husky73

    Great Kiffin remark. Bravo.

    • art thiel

      Maybe the most annoying guy in college football.

      • Husky73

        One word: Leach

        • Diamond Mask

          I’d “like” this ten times if I could.

        • art thiel

          What are you — a Pullman cop?

      • Tonic99

        I personally recall him whining like a 5 year-old after Al Davis fired him. Never cared for him after that.

  • Tman

    The salary cap is the culprit for all the teams. The great players blossom and command what they can..teams with no room under the cap lose their best supporting actors.

    The cap is a tool owners use to control cost of labor to a fixed amount while there is no cap on owners income.

    If parity among the teams is the goal, cap owners income as well. Give the remainder to the city hosting the team.

    Everyone wins.

    • art thiel

      You’re more of a socialist than Bernie Sanders. Owners aren’t into municipal philanthropy.

      • Tman

        The owners are there for the handouts.

        Isn’t it true NFL owners arranged a federal income tax exemption and pay no income tax on their considerable football related incomes? Washington State has no income tax, passing the tax burden to those least able to pay via a 10% sales tax..a subsidy paid by the poor for the benefit of the rich. This is not democracy or socialism.

        Paul Allen is a nice guy, but 360 million is chump change to a multibillionaire. Why did the City of Seattle pay for nearly half of Century LInk field, more than twice what Allen paid? see chart below from
        CenturyLink Field: $360 million
        Exhibition Center: $70 million

        Cost to public: $300 million
        Cost to Seahawks owner, Paul G. Allen: $130 million, plus cost overruns.

        Government of by and for the people is democracy.
        Of by and for Corporations is Fascism. Add racism you have Nazism.

        We are about to allow the billionaire class to appoint one of its own, an unelected, unabashed Nazi, 6 times bankrupt draft dodger with a 30 year history of dealing with the Gambino and Genovese crime families in the conduct of his illegal prostitution (TrumpEscorts) Gambling and Prostitution (Taj Mahal) and Construction (Trump Towers) rackets, see CNN’s Donald Trump and the Mob ​

        Bernie Sanders looks very good in comparison. He’s honest enough to say what he is and put the discussion of Democratic Socialism on the table..raising the question, What’s wrong with it?. It works everywhere it is used, even here..see FDR’s New Deal/Fair Deal replacing the raw deals of Hoover, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Bush, Kissinger and Cheney.

        Unregulated Capitalism never works anywhere it is used..including the Good old USA.

  • Tman

    It’s about the salary cap. Another solution. Jettison the salary cap.

    Are European Soccer Players jumping ship for more money on a regular basis?

    There is much we can learn from our European Friends.

    Quoting Walter Cronkite: “We must have that unique combination of capitalism and socialism that made this country great.”

    • art thiel

      The socialism of the cap is what creates parity. It gives nearly every fan base every year a chance to believe that its team is 1-2 players away from contention. Unlikely that NFL teams will go 108 years between championships.

  • Gerald Turner

    A lot can happen in the next three weeks. In some parallel universe people are getting ready to watch the third overtime of the Dolphins Lions Super Bowl.