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Marcus Trufant’s football life has come full circle.
A first-round draft choice by his hometown NFL team in 2003, Trufant re-signed with the Seahawks on Wednesday so the former Pro Bowl cornerback can retire as a Seahawk on Thursday.
Trufant started 125 games in 10 seasons with the Seahawks, including 94 of a possible 96 games to begin his career. But he was not re-signed after becoming an unrestricted free agent last March. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in May, but was released before playing in a regular-season game.
And his impact with the Seahawks was immediate, as he started 16 games after being the 11th pick overall in the NFL Draft and was selected to the NFL All-Rookie team. In 2004, Trufant became the only cornerback in franchise history to lead the team in tackles (93) – and just the fourth corner in NFL history to it. In 2005, he was a 15-game starter on the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl team. In 2007, he lead the team with seven interceptions and became the third Seahawks corner to be voted to the Pro Bowl – along with Dave Brown (1984) and Shawn Springs (1998), who joined Trufant as the cornerbacks on the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.
Back issues limited Trufant to nine starts in 2009 and four starts in 2011. In his absence, Richard Sherman stepped into the lineup on the left side in 2011 and he has blossomed into the best cornerback in the game.
But Trufant’s legacy was laced into place before injuries began to erode his effectiveness. His 21 interceptions rank fifth in franchise history, behind Brown (50), free safety Eugene Robinson (42), free safety John Harris (41) and strong safety Kenny Easley (32); and his 638 tackles are No. 10 on the Seahawks’ career list.
His Seahawks-only career is something Trufant shares with eight other members of the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team – wide receivers Steve Largent (1976-89) and Brian Blades (1988-98), left tackle Walter Jones (1997-2009), fullback Mack Strong (1993-2007), defensive tackles Joe Nash (1982-96) and Cortez Kennedy (1990-2000), middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (2005-10) and Easley (1981-87).
And as with most of those players, Trufant’s character matched everything that went into his career.
“I was truly privileged to be around a man of that character,” said Kris Richard.
And Richard had the opportunity to see Trufant at both ends of his career, and from different perspectives – as his teammate in 2003-04 and as his position coach from 2010-12.
“Marcus is a class act,” Richard said. “I believe he has been the epitome of a professional through his whole entire career. The way that he’s always managed himself on and off the field has been first-rate. He was an awesome competitor, which is what stood out about him from Day One.”
And Richard was there for Day One, as a second-year cornerback when the Seahawks selected Trufant in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
“He was never afraid to learn, without asking a question,” Richard said. “He always had his eyes and ears open. And he had an elite burst and quickness.”
Richard then got to coach a player he obviously admired. The last of Trufant’s five 16-start seasons came in 2010.
“When I came back, we never missed a beat,” Richard said. “He knew me, so he knew what I was about, he knew how much I cared and I knew how much he cared. So it was always something that you knew was going to work.”
Even with Trufant working at a new spot in 2012 – nickel back – after Sherman and since-departed Brandon Browner became the starting corners in 2011.
“I believe the privilege was really being able to train him in a position that he could have excelled at all along – being inside,” Richard said. “You could just imagine if that window had been opened a little earlier, just to see a player of his stature and his nature and his ability get in there and cover some of the elite receivers who play inside.
“But it would have been hard, because you never want to sacrifice the outside for the inside.”