Seattle has seen many players come to town and make a lasting impact on the team, the fans, and the community – while making a permanent home in the hearts of the Seahawks faithful. There are far too many fan favorites to make this list make sense, but the top players in franchise history are nearly incontrovertible. What order they rank, however, is very much up for discussion.
At last, we are nearing the conclusion of the rankings of the greatest players to wear a Seattle Seahawks uniform.
If you missed any of the previous chapters in the countdown, here are numbers 25-4:
While previous chapters have included multiple players, the top five players in franchise history deserve more than just a portion among other names, so we will be unveiling the top five players ever to wear a Seattle uniform individually.
3. Quarterback Russell Wilson (2012-2021)
If DangeRuss retired today, here is where his career numbers stack up in NFL history –
Yards 37,059 (26th)
Completions 3,079 (27th)
TDs 292 (15th)
Ints 87 (148th)
Interception % 1.8 (T-4th)
4th quarter comebacks 24 (T-13th)
Those, my friends, are NFL Hall Of Fame numbers right in front of you. Even If you wanted to point out just the worst statistic on the list, he is still the 27th best QB of all time – statistically speaking. More realistically, he is among the top 10-15 all-time, but in Seattle, he is a significant number one, and that’s no small feat considering the great QBs Seattle has had in their relatively short history.
Wilson started his first game for Seattle as a rookie in 2012, and he didn’t miss a game until week six of the 2021 season, winning more than 100 regular season games along the way. That’s durability and success you simply can’t ask for, but Wilson made sure the Seahawks didn’t have to. Just like the Batman, you don’t ever have to say thank you; he’s going to save the day either way. But those of us who saw Wilson’s greatness with our own eyes will always be grateful to have witnessed it.
Seattle’s defense likely would have won the Super Bowl in 2013 with anyone at QB, but they weren’t getting there without Wilson, and that’s just as important. That defense was so good they would have dragged Matt Flynn to a title if that’s what it came down to, and the one game was all that mattered. Still, the road to the Super Bowl was accomplished largely due to Wilson’s early career success – without which it’s unlikely the defense would have had a chance to show their own greatness.
When Wilson first arrived, he was handed the keys to an M1 Abrams tank and told not to worry about a few scratches while driving down the freeway. A 6-2 playoff record through his first three seasons, two Super Bowl appearances, and one championship later, it’s safe to say Wilson followed those instructions to the letter.
In the years to come, he was handed the keys to a 1994 Toyota Supra and told not to mess it up even though the engine needed a tune-up, and the tires were starting to lose tread as the rushing attack and defense absorbed marginal losses to their key players. Wilson performed well but ultimately could not get the team past the divisional round on his own, and the offense struggled to find consistency. Questionable hires at offensive coordinator and the front office’s inability to surround him with top-level talent are surely to blame, but when you get credit when things go well, you also get the blame when the chips are down. It wasn’t up to Wilson who he got around him, but it was up to him to make them look good. Wilson absolutely elevated his teammates in the regular season, but his playoff record took a nosedive once he wasn’t aided by one of the best running backs in the league and the best defense in the league. Those marks cannot go ignored, even if he won a lot of regular season games and threw many touchdowns.
Wilson has never been a guy that likes to feed a primary receiver; he spreads the ball around and makes the defense guess where the ball will wind up. That’s something even the best QBs struggle to do when they have an all-pro receiver, but perhaps that’s the true testament to Wilson’s success – in his ten seasons with the team, only once did he have an all-pro receiver to throw to (DK Metcalf in 2020).
Think of the all-time great QBs, and then think of the receivers they had to throw to. Can you think of even one that wasn’t throwing to one of the best receivers in the game for multiple seasons? It’s bizarre that Wilson never had that in Seattle, but he still found ways to make it work. That’s not to say Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett are not extremely talented receivers, but 20 years from now, I have to wonder how many folks will remember them that are not fans of Seattle. Metcalf might make lasting memories here, but he won’t be able to do that with Wilson. The best memories fans will have of Wilson will be of him throwing to Baldwin, Lockett, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, Paul Richardson, Freddie Swain, and David Moore, among others. The great ones elevate the play of those around them, and Wilson absolutely made the players around him look great, even if they would have likely struggled to play for another team and another QB.
Wilson made the Pro Bowl in his first year as a starter, the first of nine (nine!) trips. He has only been selected to one All-Pro team in his career, which is downright silly, but that’s not the first Seattle QB that was snubbed from those lists, and it probably won’t be the last. We know what we saw on game day, though, and there were definitely not more than a couple of QBs in the NFC better than him season to season in nearly a decade, so it’s unfortunate that the folks in charge never saw fit to select Wilson. That only fueled the already large chip on his shoulder to prove his doubters wrong. As of the end of the 2021 season, Wilson is the franchise leader in passing yards, touchdowns, lowest interception percentage, and, most importantly – wins.
Over his career, Wilson has thrown at least twice as many touchdowns as interceptions, and he had done that every season individually as well, except for 2016 when he threw 21 TDs and 11 INTs. The mark of an effective QB is one that can score more than their opponent and protects the ball. Most QBs that score a lot also produce a lot of turnovers, but Wilson was so accurate he rarely got picked off, and that is something his peers simply cannot reproduce, not on average anyway. He led the league in passing TDs in 2017 with 34 and threw at least 30 TDs 5 times, including a monster 40 TD season in 2020. Wilson threw for more than 3000 yards every season in Seattle and eclipsed 4000 yards four times.
Wilson didn’t just win; he won nearly twice as many games as he lost, winning 104 games and only losing 53 for a career-winning percentage of .662. The playoffs weren’t quite as kind to him, where he finished with an overall record of 9-7, never winning more than one playoff game per season after their near-magical run in 2014. He was only “one and done” in the playoffs twice, in 2018 and 2020. He has 25 career touchdowns in the playoffs against just 12 interceptions, so even when the games mean more, he still finds ways to score twice as often as he turns the ball over, but the victories weren’t quite as frequent in single-elimination games.
Wilson’s lack of early game success week to week across his career is the only reason I can think of why some people won’t remember him and his play better. It wasn’t uncommon for the Seattle offense to sputter in the first half while the defense kept the score manageable, and then Wilson and the offense would come out of halftime with fireworks and pour on the points. Seattle rarely had one of the league’s most efficient passing offenses, usually relying on the running game to open things up and then, when that didn’t work, depending on Wilson’s wizardry to bail them out. He often found ways to make it happen.
The unfortunate early ending in Seattle likely stemmed from Wilson’s frustration with the front office not surrounding him with blue-chip talent and an offensive line that could, you know, block while asking him to do the impossible against mounting odds.
His career in the Emerald City likely ended sooner than most expected, but what a career it was. No matter what he does in his new home in Denver, he has a legacy here that will last a lifetime and then some. If the end of the 2014 Super Bowl had ended differently, it’s possible we would be talking about Wilson differently, but not likely. What’s more likely is the team would have stuck together, and perhaps he would have more hardware to polish, but there really wasn’t more he could have done from an individual standpoint.
It’s only a matter of time until the folks in charge of the Seattle Ring of Honor get his name ready to go up, but I’m sure that will have to wait until at least the first season following his retirement. Wilson has more than enough career accolades to make it to the NFL HOF, and no one will be surprised if he makes it on his first ballot.
Check out Wilson’s career highlights here.