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.
In the coming weeks, we will be looking at the greatest players to wear the Seattle blue and gray and white and green, and ranking them in what is sure to be a polarizing order. We welcome your comments and/or disagreements.
Last week we revealed numbers 15-11. This week we continue the countdown with the Greatest Seattle Seahawks of all time, numbers 10-6:
10. Receiver Steve Largent (1976-1989)
At the time of Largent’s retirement in 1990, he was the franchise record holder in career receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns – and he still holds all three by a wide margin. There has been no lack of great receivers in Seattle, and yet Largent has at least 6000 yards, 200 catches, and 51 touchdowns more than the guys below him on the list.
He’s not only the top receiver in Seattle’s history, he is also 19th all-time in NFL history for yards, 31st in receptions, and tied for 9th in touchdowns. One of the most interesting parts of Largent’s career isn’t that he finished as one of the best of all time; it’s that going into his rookie season, he was going to be cut by Houston before Seattle traded for him (and it only cost them an 8th round pick!). Largent recorded eight seasons of at least 1000 yards and was just 88 yards away from a ninth at age 34 in the strike-shortened 1987 season.
Largent played at least 13 games in all but two of his 14 seasons and was one of the best during his career. With a career average of 14 yards per reception, Largent was not just a guy who could run past defenders; he also had great hands and could make catches in traffic. Even though he was drafted by Houston, he played every one of his 200 regular season games for Seattle, so he had the rare privilege of playing for a single team for his entire career.
Check out Largent’s career highlights here
9. Safety Kam Chancellor (2010-2017)
Chancellor arrived in Seattle as a rookie the same year as head coach Pete Carroll and fellow rookie safety Earl Thomas, paving the way for one of the greatest defenses in NFL history to form in the years to come. Chancellor was a fifth-round draft pick and didn’t start a single game his rookie year, but made enough of an impression that Seattle opted to let veteran safety Lawyer Milloy walk in free agency, and Kam was named the starter going into his second season.
In 2011, Chancellor and Thomas started the season together and began to form one of the most formidable safety tandems the league had ever seen. They weren’t quite scary yet, but the vision was clear, and it was only a matter of time before opposing players started to take notice of their abilities to cause chaos to an offensive game plan. Chancellor made the Pro Bowl in his first season as a starter and was well on his way to becoming one of the most feared safeties in the league. A bruising and punishing tackler, Chancellor, at 6’3”, was bigger and taller than most receivers and could cover the best tight ends in the league. A multi-purpose chess piece for the defensive coordinator to unleash hell on their opponents, Kam did much more than assist in run or pass coverage. He frequently helped his teammates line up before plays and set the tone with his tough defense and hitting. Opposing players knew they were going to leave the field with bruises if they tried to run or catch with Kam in the area, and receivers had to deal with his unusual height, so QBs couldn’t just bait him with jump balls expecting their receiver to go up and make the catch. With the average safety in the league around 6’ or shorter, Kam being taller and more robust than most offensive players in the league made him one of the most feared safeties in the league.
Kam was a huge reason the defense rose from good to great to all-time terrifying in just three short years, and he’s also a reason there hasn’t been much to worry about in the Seattle secondary since his departure due to a neck injury sustained in 2016, which would turn out to be the last time Kam played in the NFL after lingering issues from the injury forced his retirement at the age of 29. Kam helped lead Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowls, and it’s only a matter of time until his name is added to the Seattle Ring of Honor.
Check out Chancellor’s career highlights here
8. Running Back Shaun Alexander (2000-2007)
There were many great players taken in the 2000 NFL Draft, but it’s possible Seattle landed the best player of all of them at #19. Alexander was the fourth running back selected, and yet he played like the best one of the bunch. With a relatively short prime and not enough yards to make the 10K career list, the odds are against him getting into the Hall of Fame. Alexander may have “only” given Seattle five complete seasons, but man, what a five-year run it was. Over those five seasons, Alexander averaged 1500 yards with 17 touchdowns and only 4 fumbles.
Over that same span, Alexander also contributed 1300 receiving yards along with 11 touchdowns. 8800 yards and 98 touchdowns in five seasons? If those aren’t NFL HOF numbers, they are certainly Seattle Ring of Honor numbers. Alexander has yet to be selected for either, but it’s only a matter of time until Seattle does right by him, even if the NFL selection members don’t.
Alexander had five consecutive seasons of 1000 or more rushing yards, 14 or more touchdowns, and was the NFL MVP in 2005, as well as the NFL scoring leader and selected to the NFL All-Pro team. He finished his career with the 36th most yards for a running back in NFL history and #8 in touchdowns. Alexander is still the franchise leader in rushing yards and touchdowns by a wide margin. Alexander did so much in his time with the team; he has at least 2000 yards and 42 touchdowns, more than the next players on the list.
It would be a crime to exclude such an amazing player from the Seattle Ring of Honor or the NFL Hall of Fame, but as of yet, he has not been selected for either. Alexander certainly has a well-deserved place in the hearts of the Seattle faithful, with or without a ceremony held by the team or the league.
Check out Alexander’s career highlights here
7. Running back Marshawn Lynch (2010-2015)
It’s really tough to say whether Lynch or Alexander meant more to the team or did more on the field, but the fact that Lynch was this close to a second Super Bowl title (if not for one of the biggest play call goofs in the history of the game), we have to give him the slight edge even though Alexander had the more impressive individual achievements despite playing behind one of the greatest offensive linemen in the history of the game. Lynch had to run with the defense, knowing he was getting the ball with inferior blocking, so even without the title, one could argue Lynch was the better player. It’s splitting hairs in different decades, so that’s why they are back to back. We can call them 7A and 7B if you want.
Lynch’s most famous play is the “beast quake” in the 2010 playoff game against the defending Super Bowl champions. Seattle had the ball on their own 33-yard line, and Lynch took the handoff at the 27-yard line. Lynch would run up the middle through the heart of the defense, shedding off four tacklers within the first two yards with his brute strength. He then got into the second level and broke three more tackles, and by the time he was into the secondary, it was too late. Lynch shook off three more tacklers, tossing one aside and making it look effortless, then cut upfield to close in on the end zone. Lynch would finish the run dodging one last tackle and diving backward like it was his swimming pool, floating for a couple of seconds before hitting the turf for a 67-yard touchdown run.
The response from the fans was so great; it was the first one in the Seattle area to ever register on the Richter scale – hence the name Beast Quake. Even if Lynch did nothing else in his career for Seattle, that might be enough to put his name on the Ring of Honor, which will certainly happen one day. But he was selected as an All-Pro twice and made the Pro Bowl 5 times. He was the rushing touchdown leader twice and posted four consecutive 1000-yard seasons with at least 11 touchdowns each. With at least 10,000 yards on his resume and 85 touchdowns, Lynch checks in at 29th on the career rushing list in yards and 16th in touchdowns – and that could be an intriguing case for the NFL Hall of Fame. Lynch is only 4th in Seattle history (he started his career in Buffalo) in yards, and 2nd in touchdowns, so Alexander is more deserving of the Ring of Honor if they have to choose one to select first. Still, it’s entirely possible both of them are chosen at the same time (how cool would that be), and only one makes it to Canton.
Check out Lynch’s career highlights here
6. Tackle Walter Jones (1997-2009)
The 1997 NFL draft was so loaded at the top that Jones was the 6th overall pick, and no one seemed to mind. He wasn’t even the first tackle taken, as that honor went to fellow Hall of Famer Orlando Pace. Four of the five players taken in front of Jones would go on to make at least one all-pro team, so it’s tough to say they missed out on the right player. But they definitely did. Especially the Lions, who drafted cornerback Bryant Westbrook one spot in front of Jones (not to be confused with running back Brian Westbrook). Westbrook bounced around the league and was not on a team after 2003. To say that was a big whiff would be a major understatement.
Another understatement is that Jones more than lived up to the huge expectations he arrived with. Selected to the Pro Bowl 9 times and an All-Pro six times, Jones became one of the greatest offensive linemen of all time, and his selection to the Seattle Ring of Honor and the NFL Hall of Fame were both no-brainers. A staple on the offensive line for more than a decade, Jones protected the blind side of quite a few QBs and opened a lot of running lanes for several running backs. He teamed up with Steve Hutchinson in 2001, and together, they created a nearly impenetrable shield for the QB and opened semi truck-sized running lanes for the running backs.
Big Walt was among the best and most dependable players in the league throughout his career, starting a whopping 180 games while only missing a total of twelve games in twelve seasons. For a man of his size to play that long and not suffer lingering knee or ankle issues that kept him on the sideline for even four games a year is downright incredible. Through his final game in 2008, Big Walt was an immovable object for his teammates and routinely handled the opponent’s best pass rushers. Jones gave up just 23 sacks in his career, or once every eight games. He was called for holding just nine times, or once every 20 games. This means he could go about a season and a half without hearing his name called after a whistle. For as many cringe-worthy calls Germain Ifedi had, Jones was the opposite. A mountain of a man who did his job better than nearly anyone on the planet ever has.
Jones retired in 2010, and the team officially retired his jersey during an in-game ceremony later that same season. At the time, Largent was the only other player to have his number retired. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Seattle Ring of Honor in 2014. It will be nearly impossible for any future Seattle player to match the accomplishments Jones has, and without his efforts, guys like Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander may have failed to make a significant impact on the league.
Check out Jones’ career highlights here