Captains in name, and qualities

Posted Sep 22, 2013

When it comes to the players who were voted the Seahawks’ captains this season – Red Bryant, Heath Farwell and Russell Wilson – they had captain qualities even before getting the honor.

There’s more to being a captain than walking out for the pre-game coin toss and wearing a “C” patch on the right shoulder of your jersey, which Red Bryant, Heath Farwell and Russell Wilson will do prior to Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at CenturyLink Field.

That becomes obvious when you talk to other players about those who were voted the Seahawks’ captains for the 2013 season – Bryant (defense) and Farwell (special teams), who also were selected captains in 2012; and Wilson (offense), a captain in his second season with the team.

You have to display the qualities of a captain before you can be voted a captain.

“That’s the cool thing about all our captains is all these guys they go out and they prove it and they go out and do all the little details that everybody else can follow,” said Chris Maragos, a backup safety and core special teams player. “I think that speaks the most for all these guys – Heath, Big Red, Russell – they put the work in, they show everything they need to do to go out there and to perform well at a high level.

“The other guys follow that.”

Even when one of those guys is a free-spirited All-Pro cornerback.

“A great team leader,” Richard Sherman said when asked what makes a good captain. “Someone who actually makes plays on Sunday. Who helps your team win games. Who stands up in crucial situations. Who’s able to be called upon in crucial situations and stands up. Somebody that’s dependable.”

Players like Red Bryant Heath Farwell and Russell Wilson.


Coach Pete Carroll often calls on the 6-foot-4, 323-pound defensive end to address the team in the locker room before games. And even on those rare occasions when he doesn’t, Red Bryant usually has something to say anyway – on the sideline, in the huddle, in the heat of the battle.

But what makes Bryant captain material on a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL last season is his ability to walk the walk after talking – or shouting – the talk.

“Red is a special person,” said nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who lines up next to Bryant and also has the cubicle next to Bryant in the locker room. “He’s got a real good gift as far as being a spokesman – like speaking in a crowd of people and getting his point across, and actually explaining and going into depth. I tell him that all the time, and that’s a gift from God. Not everybody is able to do that.

“Red is able to rally us up before the game every week and is able to come with something new and something that we discussed during the week that relates to everybody. It’s just amazing how he does it. He’s a born leader. He’s a natural leader.” 

The other players also appreciate the way Bryant paid his dues. A seldom-used tackle during his first two seasons with the Seahawks after being a fourth-round draft choice in 2008, Bryant was moved to the five-technique end spot in Pete Carroll’s defense in 2010 Dan Quinn – then the line coach and now the coordinator. Bryant’s initial thought when called into Quinn’s office to discuss the switch was, “They’re going to cut me.”

Instead, Bryant has become a cut-above run-stuffing presence. And the captain of this talented defense.

“There’s no question about it, it’s a big honor,” Bryant said. “It meant a lot to me for my teammates to hold me in such high regard. I was pumped. I didn’t show a lot of emotion, but it meant a lot to me. It really did.

“It’s big, especially given the fact that we’ve got a number of players who could have been captain. Our secondary is one of the best, if not the best, in the league. Bobby Wagner has really taken on a bigger role for us. Brandon Mebane. K.J. Wright. You’ve got talent everywhere. So for those guys to bless me to be their captain, to have that confidence in me, it means a lot to me.”


His name is listed on the depth chart as the backup middle linebacker to Bobby Wagner, but Heath Farwell has made his name on special teams. All he’s done since joining the Seahawks five weeks into the 2011 season is lead them in coverage tackles both seasons – a league-high 21 in 2011, despite playing in only 11 games; 15 last season.

Prior to that, Farwell led the Minnesota Vikings in special teams tackles four times in five seasons – 25 in 2006; 32 in 2007; 24 in 2009, when he was voted to the Pro Bowl; and 19 in 2010. Farwell spent the 2008 season on injured reserve.

“Heath is just such a great leader,” said Maragos, who was among the players who voted for Farwell. “He’s a pro’s pro. He embodies everything that you want – he works hard, he leads by example, he’s a vocal leader and he does a really good job for us.”

That’s because Farwell realizes there’s more to playing special teams, which Maragos calls “controlled chaos,” than just running down the field. Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider pointed to a game against the St. Louis Rams last season when Farwell not only alerted everyone on the field to be aware of a possible reverse on the return just before a kickoff, he then went downfield and made the tackle on the reverse.

“That’s the crazy thing, I think from an outside perspective you can look at special teams and it’s like, ‘Ah, run down there on a punt or run down there on a kickoff and just find the ball,’ ” Maragos said. “There’s so much more to that. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. And when you really understand how you need to fit in and where you need to fit in, and you can do that at a fast level, that’s when you see guys have success.

“And that’s why Heath has had so much success.”

The Seahawks’ special teams are stocked with players capable of making big plays. From Red Bryant, who has blocked five field goals or PATs the past two season; to Maragos, who was third in coverage tackles last season. From Jon Ryan, who has rewritten the franchise punting records the past five seasons; to Steven Hauschka, who has been money on his field-goal attempts since joining the team in 2011. From Malcolm Smith, who blocked one punt that was returned for a touchdown and scored off a muffed return last season; to All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas, who is among the starters that play special teams.

It’s this fact that makes being voted the captain of these units so, well, special for Farwell.

“It means a lot to me to be voted a captain on a team as talented as this,” he said. “That’s an important thing – on a team that has so many great players, to be singled out from them is pretty special.”


When you’re the quarterback, leadership and having captain-like qualities come with the position. But when your quarterback is Russell Wilson, he came prepared for everything the honor requires and demands.

In his rookie season, after being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft, he quickly won the confidence of his teammates. This season, he won their votes.

“As a quarterback, you already have that mindset. As a quarterback, you have to have that captain mindset anyway,” said backup QB Tarvaris Jackson, who was voted offensive captain prior his first season with the Seahawks in 2011 – before being traded to the Buffalo Bills last year and re-signing with the Seahawks this year.

This year, Jackson cast his vote for Wilson.

“Russell is the leader of the offense. He’s the quarterback, so you already kind of expect the quarterback to be that guy,” Jackson said. “But Russell is a vocal guy. He leads by example. So it was pretty much a no-brainer for me to vote for him.

“If your quarterback is your leader, that’s a good thing.”

And Wilson just continues to do good things in his second season that enhance all the good things he did as a rookie starter. Still, Wilson takes nothing for granted and appreciates everything that comes his way – even the obvious recognition.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Wilson said. “And we have so many leaders on this football team, guys like Max Unger (last year’s offensive captain and an All-Pro center) and Russell Okung (the Pro Bowl left tackle); to Marshawn Lynch (the All-Pro running back) and Sidney Rice (last year’s leading receiver).

“So it’s a tremendous honor and I’m excited about it.”