A happy Ground Chuck birthday to Chuck Knox

Posted Apr 27, 2014

Chuck Knox will celebrate his 82nd birthday on Sunday, and he left a legacy as coach of the Seahawks from 1983-91 that will last much longer than that.

Before there was Pete Carroll, there was Mike Holmgren. And before there was Mike Holmgren, there was Chuck Knox.

There were Seahawks coaches before and in between this trio – Jack Patera, from 1976-82; the late Mike McCormack, on an interim basis for seven games in the strike-shortened 1982 season; Tom Flores, from 1992-94; Dennis Erickson, from 1995-98; and Jim Mora, for the 2009 season.


A look at the performances of the Seahawks under the three most-successful coaches in franchise history – Chuck Knox (1983-91), Mike Holmgren (1999-2008) and Pete Carroll (2010-present):

  Knox Holmgren Carroll
Seasons 9 10 4
Regular-Season Record 80-63 86-74 38-26
Regular-Season Winning Percentage .559 .538 .594
Postseason Record 3-4 4-6 5-2
10-plus win Seasons 2 3 2
Playoff Teams 4 6 3
Division Titles 1 5 2
Conference Titles 0 1 1
Super Bowl Titles 0 0 1

But when it comes to the Seahawks, nobody has done it better than Knox, Holmgren and Carroll.

The link between these connected-by-success coaches is relevant because Sunday is Knox’s 82nd birthday.

The 1976 expansion team that took the Pacific Northwest by storm had fallen on hard times when Knox was hired in 1983. And it didn’t take Knox long to make fans forget the 4-12 and 6-10 seasons in 1980 and 1981, and the 0-2 start to the strike-interrupted 1982 season that cost Patera his job.

Knox, who had previously coached the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills into the NFL playoffs, changed the culture by importing veterans who knew what it took to win and then traded away the Seahawks’ top three picks in the 1983 draft to move into the third spot so he could select a player who would put the legs in his Ground Chuck offense – Penn State running back Curt Warner.

That first season under Knox ended with the Seahawks making the playoffs for the first time; winning the first playoff game in franchise history; winning what would be the only road playoff game until the 2012 team ended the drought; and playing in the AFC Championship game.

Before he returned to the Rams for the 1992 season, Knox had forged a legacy with the Seahawks that was as steely as his blue-eyed stare: 80 regular-season victories, four playoff teams, the franchise’s first division title (in 1988), NFL Coach of the Year (in 1984, for the third time in his career) and his induction into the team’s Ring of Honor (in 2005).

The accomplishments of Knox’s 1983, 1984 (12-4 record) and 1988 teams set the bar for the haven’t-done-that-since achievements of Holmgren’s teams, just as the things attained by the 2005 Seahawks provided a benchmark for the Carroll-coached Seahawks.

Knox retired after the 1994 season with the Rams and has been in declining health in recent years. But to say he always will remain a part of Seahawks history is, as Knox was fond of saying, eighth-grade Sewickley (his hometown in Pennsylvania). Translation: It’s a common-sense assessment that goes without saying.

 So we send only the best of birthday wishes to Knox on his special day.