In honor of the state of cinema and the fact that superhero stories now dominate our cultural narratives, I thought it would be worthy of our time to award some Marvel-inspired superlatives to our boys in blue and green. You might ask, why is this necessary? Well, we are in the dog days of the NFL offseason and if I read one more article with “reporting” of Russell Wilson’s perceived unhappiness I think my head might explode. Well, that and the fact that news out of OTA’s on upcoming position battles usually mean jack squat this early. With all that being said, onto the list.
The Mjolnir “Worthiness” Award –
Worthiness is an interesting term in the Marvel Universe, specifically how it pertains to Thor. He cannot lift his hammer in his first movie until he can redeem himself and prove that he is no longer selfish. While redemption arcs are difficult to find on this Seahawks team, many exude a lack of selfishness. No more so than Bobby Wagner, one of the greatest linebackers of his generation. Like Thor, his personal accolades are nothing to sneeze at – including seven pro bowls and seven all-pros. But what makes him worthy is that he is a five-time team captain and the leader of the Seattle defense. When he was drafted, Wagner was overshadowed by the big personalities that made up the Legion of Boom. While he was a standout player in his early years, it wasn’t until the other superstars of the defense had left the team that Wagner emerged on a national level. He was the one the Seahawks chose to anchor the defense around the last few years, proving himself as worthy to the Seahawks as Thor was to Asgard.
The Falcon Award –
Sam Wilson, the Falcon, was relegated to a small side role in every MCU movie he was in. While his flight suit was kind of cool, his most notable character trait was being Captain America’s best friend. That all changed, though with this summer’s Falcon & Winter Soldier show, as Wilson stepped out of the shadows of anonymity to fill the shoes of Steve Rodgers, becoming Captain America himself. Seattle has had many Sam Wilson’s in the past, as players like Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, and Byron Maxwell all went from bit players to genuinely good starters. On the current roster, it’s DJ Reed that will have to pick up the proverbial shield. Seattle’s cornerback room is a huge question mark after Shaquill Griffin left in free agency, with no real starting options left on the roster. After playing 31 games for San Fransisco after being drafted in the sixth round, Seattle picked him up off of waivers after being cut due to injury by the 49ers. In eight games playing at both the nickel and cornerback, he nabbed two interceptions, notched 49 tackles, and was ranked the 14th best at his position during that time by Pro Football Focus. With a lack of a clear number one corner, Reed has a chance to take a starring role in 2021.
The Terrance Howard –
Don Cheadle has been the Iron Patriot for so long in the MCU that it’s easy to forget that Terrance Howard initially played the role of James Rhodes in the first Iron Man, a movie so successful it would launch one of the biggest franchises ever. Just like how Rashaad Penny’s role in a couple of successful Seahawks teams has been forgotten. Instead, his status as a former first-round pick has overshadowed some of the genuinely exciting moments he has provided. Like Howard, Penny was nowhere to be seen in 2020 as he only carried the ball 11 times for a paltry 3.1 yards-per-attempt as he tried to recover from a torn ACL. Unlike Howard, his role has not been filled by someone else. Chris Carson was re-signed as Seattle’s bell-cow back, but there is no clear option for his top back-up. Carlos Hyde is gone, and both DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer failed to impress their time on the field. Over his first two seasons, Penny carried the ball 150 times for 789 yards, good for 5.1 yards per pop. He’s also had a couple of seriously impressive breakaway runs, something that Carson’s bruising style is missing. We’ll see next year if he’s still with his original franchise or is forced to ply his trade elsewhere.
The Loki –
While no one can be sure, it’s fair to assume that this Summer’s Loki show will finish off the one-time antagonist’s hero turn. He went from being the main villain twice, in the early MCU, to being a devilish but ultimately helpful side character to what will ultimately be a full-fledged force of good. This type of turn happens all the time in the NFL due to free agency, most notably Richard Sherman being the 49er’s public enemy number one during his time as a Seahawk to a defensive leader in their run-up to the 2019 Super Bowl. The Seahawks will try to replicate that on a smaller scale, as free agent pick-up Akhello Witherspoon will try to flip his narrative after the start of his career took place in San Francisco. An up-and-down player who also dealt with injuries, Witherspoon has been a wild ride since being taken in the third round out of Colorado. That being said, it looked like he finally straightened out the inconsistencies in his game during the stretch run of 2020, where he started the last three games, capping a season where he only allowed an 82.4 passer rating on 5.5 yards per reception when targeted. While it’s not a huge sample size, those numbers led him to be ranked fourth in the entire NFL by Pro Football Focus among cornerbacks. If that consistency is true, Seattle fans would quickly forget any highlights he may have had versus the Seahawks.
The Drax –
This award could easily be called the Korg. Or the Ned. Or the Luis. Or the Wong. Or the Shuuri. Basically, it’s any side character that steals the show, being the most interesting person in any scene that they’re on screen for. The sheer list of names I’ve listed shows how good that Marvel is at finding quality role players, something that Seattle has never struggled to do either. None more so than Poona Ford, who has quickly found his way into every Seahawk fan’s heart. After going undrafted out of Texas, Ford has pushed his way onto the roster and into the starting line-up. Occupying the middle of the defensive line, the massive defensive tackle is a regular guest in the opponent’s backfield, notching two sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2020. Those are big numbers considering how Seattle uses their defensive tackles, as Ford’s main job is to clog running lanes. He’s made the most of his opportunity, just like how Dave Bautista’s humor is the gravitational pull of every second he is on the screen in Guardians of the Galaxy.