Babineaux was about to explain that the linebackers meeting room was down the hall at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. But then he realized who the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Chancellor was.
“When Kam walked in I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” the since-retired Babineaux said at the time. “He’s the physical specimen that you dream of.”
Unless you’re a receiver on an opposing team, that is. Then the dream is more like a nightmarish matchup.
Just ask Vernon Davis. The also physically gifted tight end of the San Francisco 49ers was on the receiving end of one of those Chancellor tattoo-hits that have become his calling card the past 3½ season since the Seahawks selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft – and he became a situational player midway through his rookie season before stepping in as the starter in 2011.
This feature on All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor completes our series of articles examining the starters in the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary that leads the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense:
The third-quarter pass from Colin Kaepernick and the pigskin-seeking missile that Chancellor transforms into when he’s in a helmet and full pads arrived at Davis in the same half-blink during Sunday’s NFC Championship game. Chancellor hit Davis. The ball hit the turf at CenturyLink Field. And someone should have hit the play button on the Ike and Tina Turner version “I Want to Take You Higher,” because the impact of that one play was greater than just that one play and looked like something out of “Remember the Titans.”
Boom shaka-laka-laka. Boom shaka-laka-laka.
In a Seahawks secondary that goes by the Legion of Boom, Chancellor is The Enforcer.
As the Seahawks’ defense was taking over in the second half of Sunday’s NFC Championship game, Chancellor also was the hyperactive metronome that set the beat in motion. In addition to that welcome-to-my-world collision with Davis, Chancellor intercepted a Kaepernick pass that was intended for wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the fourth quarter and also caused Michael Crabtree to short-arm a pass with two minutes to play because he could sense Chancellor’s imposing presence. Oh, and he also finished with 11 tackles.
“I just show my passion for the game,” Chancellor said Thursday. “Because when I go out there, all these hard hits and laying dudes out, that’s just my passion for the game. That just shows how much I love this game and I’m just continuing to show how you should play this game.”
The NFC title game was a big day – and obviously a very passionate day – on the biggest stage yet for Chancellor, who this week is busy preparing for the Seahawks’ matchup against the Denver Broncos’ high-powered offense in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2.
But it was far from an atypical performance for Chancellor. In the past three seasons, he has made 94, 91 and 93 tackles – as well as seven interceptions. In two postseason games this season, he leads the team in tackles (25) and passes defensed (four).
When it was time to unveil the Seahawks’ new uniforms in the spring of 2012, Chancellor was the choice to model it at the Nike-sponsored event in New York City. And for the obvious reason. Even in a room filled players from the other 31 NFL teams, no one struck a more-imposing figure than Chancellor.
Last spring, Chancellor became the first member of the Legion of Boom to get a contract extension. And in an offseason that included the trade to acquire
His teammates and coaches quickly became Kam fans, as well, because of what he brings, but also because of who he is.
Defensive backs coach Kris Richard: “What really stands out about Kam is his character. He’s an awesome, genuine human being. He’s the big brother of the secondary, and he’s kind of the enforcer, obviously. There’s just a tremendous impact he has with his level of humility, in regards to his style of play. He’s an awesome combination of an awesome young man, an intelligent football player and a fierce hitter out there.”
Sherman: “You want to see Kam Chancellor be labeled as one of the best safeties out there, because he plays like one of the best safeties out there.” When asked if he’s ever had a teammate as “dialed in” as Thomas, Sherman said, “Russell Wilson. Those two, but I have never seen anybody else like that. Kam Chancellor also is in the sphere, but you don’t meet people like that every day.”
With Chancellor, defensive assistant Marquand Manuel, the free safety on the Seahawks’ 2005 Super Bowl team, had to dig into his past to find a comparison.
“When I first took the job, I hadn’t seen anybody that big, that fast, that athletic since Sean Taylor,” Manuel said.
“But Kam is more cerebral,” Manuel said. “And you know what the awesome part is? I just named all athletic abilities, but he’s also one of the best guys you would ever want to be coaching or be a teammate of. I sincerely mean that.
“And fortunately, he’s the meanest guy on the team, too. He is the enforcer. But he’s the best teammate you could ever have. They hit the jackpot. They’d lucked out big time when they got this guy in the fifth round. He is a perfect complement to Earl Thomas.”
Then Manuel offered the real secret to why Chancellor is among those “unique skills” players that coach Pete Carroll and Schneider have stocked the roster with.
“How do you get to be good?” Manuel asked. “By doing the ordinary great.”