It’s commonplace in professional sports for organizations to commemorate past players, coaches, and other personnel vital to a team’s history by featuring their names in the team’s respected stadium or arena. In the NFL, this normally comes in the form of a “Ring of Honor” or “Ring of Fame,” where those historic names are forever engraved on a long, continuous banner encircling the field from within the stands. It often divides certain seating sections but unites all fans of the franchise by honoring its iconic figures.
Unlike Canton’s Hall of Fame, yearly inductions aren’t guaranteed in a team’s Ring of Honor. However, when it comes to the Seattle Seahawks and their 45-year history, enshrinement into the ROH proves difficult.
Through 2020, a mere 12 names had been voted into Seattle’s prestigious circle, including 2019’s lone inductee, Paul Allen – the late Microsoft co-founder who bought the team in 1996. Allen was one of only two names to be added into the team’s ROH since 2006, the other being former left tackle Walter Jones in 2014.
Zero selections were made in 2020. But 2021 is a different story.
The Seahawks decided to add two names to their ROH on Wednesday, matching the number of inductees over the past 14 years combined. Welcome to the club, Mike Holmgren and Matt Hasselbeck. Finally.
Many wondered when, not if, Holmgren and Hasselbeck would wind up in Seattle’s ROH as the coach-quarterback duo led the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance following the 2005 season. It turns out the time is now.
Holmgren took the reins as Seattle’s head coach in 1999, after a seven-year stint with Green Bay. The then 51-year old boasted quite the resume, having ended the Packers’ 29-year title drought in 1996 with a 35-21 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Holmgren’s Packers reached Super Bowl XXXII the next year but couldn’t repeat as champions, falling 31-24 to the Denver Broncos.
In 10 seasons with the Seahawks from 1999-2008, Holmgren went 86-74 overall. His 86 wins placed him as Seattle’s all-time winningest coach at the time of his departure, besting the previous record of 80 by Chuck Knox – the only other coach in the Seahawks’ ROH. Just to show how much Holmgren’s tenure meant to the franchise, Jack Patera sat in a distant third at that time with 35 victories. These coaches have since been surpassed by current head coach Pete Carroll, who has racked up 112 wins since taking over in 2010.
Holmgren led his teams to 161 victories and 111 losses over 17 seasons as a head coach in the NFL. He also went 13-11 in the playoffs, including a 4-5 postseason record with Seattle.
Holmgren’s Seahawks didn’t reach double-digit wins until his fifth year at the helm, doing so in 2003 with a 10-6 record and reaching the playoffs. That sparked a run of five consecutive postseason appearances, including a 13-3 record in 2005, culminating in the franchise’s first trip to the big game – ultimately falling 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
Seattle went back to the playoffs each of the next two years following the Super Bowl berth before a 4-12 season in 2008 spelled the end for Holmgren.
The majority of Holmgren’s time in the Pacific Northwest featured Hasselbeck under center. Like Holmgren, Hasselbeck started his career in Green Bay, where he backed up Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre for two seasons before joining the Seahawks in 2001.
The former sixth-round draft pick out of Boston College became the primary starter in Seattle through the 2010 season, earning three Pro Bowl honors and starting in the aforementioned Super Bowl along the way.
Before moving to Tennessee, Hasselbeck finished his 10-years as a Seahawk atop the franchise ranks in career passing yards (29,434) and was second in passing touchdowns (174). He also finished one victory shy of tying Dave Krieg’s franchise-leading 70 QB wins at the time. Since then, a guy named Russell Wilson has not-so-quietly broken every significant Seattle passing record. He also leads the franchise in wins (98) and will continue to pad those stats until he retires or joins a different team.
Hasselbeck played two seasons as a Titan before closing out the final three years of his career in Indianapolis – he went 5-3 in the games he started as a 40-year old during his final season. In all, Hasselbeck played for four teams over his 17-year career. He compiled an overall record of 85-75 as a starting quarterback – 69-62 with Seattle – while tallying 36,638 yards, 212 touchdowns against 153 interceptions, and had a QB rating of 82.4.
Hasselbeck went 5-6 in postseason play, with his final appearance in 2010 – Pete Carrol’s first year at the helm.
It would be hard to argue against either Holmgren or Hasselbeck being inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor, but it’s easy to say this: It’s about time.