From Steve Largent, to Cortez Kennedy, to Walter Jones, the thing when they first set foot in the Seahawks’ locker room was all about the ring.
Largent and Kennedy already are in the Pro Bowl Hall of Fame and the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor. But to a man, just about every player who ever played for the Seahawks said it wasn’t about the individual honors or even the bigger paychecks that come with them.
It has always been about winning, especially winning the biggest game of the season – the Super Bowl.
And with that achievement comes that coveted thing: a Super Bowl ring.
The significance of the event – and of course the ring – was not lost on
“It definitely was a cool and wonderful experience,” Shead said. “The fact of actually getting the ring solidified the fact that we’re World Champions.”
The Seahawks already had achieved and experienced so much – the 13-3 regular-season record that tied for the best in franchise history and clinched the NFC West title and top seed in the playoffs; the breath-stealing victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game; the 43-8 thumping of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII; the celebration parade through the streets of Seattle and some 700,000 12th fans three days later; the visit to the White House to be honored by President Barack Obama.
But at each stop along the way, one of the players was there to drop an oh-yeah reminder.
“And we still get our rings,” nose tackle
Now, the members of the most successful team in franchise history have them – and these rings include so many things that mean so much to the players.
“I was just telling somebody yesterday, ‘Yeah, we won the Super Bowl. That was big. We did go to the White House, that was big,’ ” Shead said. “But whenever you win a championship, the next thing that comes out is we get a ring.”
“This is my first championship in football that I’ve ever won,” he said, with perhaps his largest smile during the six-minute conversation in the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “Pee Wee. Junior High. High School. College. This is the first championship in football that I’ve won.
“And it just happened to be the World Champion.”
To help put that into context, think about the Seahawks who never got that ring: Largent, Jim Zorn, Dave Brown and Sherman Smith from the infancy seasons for the 1976 expansion franchise; Kenny Easley, Jacob Green and Keith Butler from the transitional era that bridged first coach Jack Patera to first playoff coach Chuck Knox; Curt Warner, Dave Krieg, Eugene Robinson, Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Fredd Young, Rufus Porter, Norm Johnson, Bryan Millard, Brian Blades and John L. Williams from the Knox era (1983-91), when the Seahawks advanced to their first conference title game, won their first playoff game and their first division title; Kennedy, Michael Sinclair, Shawn Springs, Chris Warren, Warren Moon and Rick Tuten, from the seven-year stretch in the 90s when the Seahawks never even posted a winning record; Jones, Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Marcus Trufant, Mack Strong, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Chad Brown, Lofa Tatupu, Bobby Engram and Chris Gray from the Mike Holmgren years (1999-2008), when the Seahawks won five division titles and advanced to the playoffs six times.
“It’s crazy,” Shead said. “You think about how few people have actually won a ring. I was talking to one of my coaches in Palmdale and he broke it down, like there have only been 48 Super Bowls. Of the 48, multiple teams have won multiple Super Bowls. And there’s now only a 53-man roster.
“So you add that all up, it’s really not that many people who have actually won a Super Bowl ring. And some of the greats of all-time never did it – Hall of Fame guys. So every day it hits me just how big it is to win one in your second season.”
As convincing as the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory was, there were so many other close games that would have altered their path to the title game with just one play here or there.
“Pete (Carroll, the coach) said it best the other day,” Shead said. “We had a meeting and he talked about how some of the games we played were just one play away from us not becoming Super Bowl champions.”
The one Shead remembers best is the Week 8 win over the Rams in St. Louis, which wasn’t decided until Brandon Browner tipped a fourth-down pass incomplete in the end zone on the final play of the game.
“Fourth down. Fourth quarter. Four seconds left in the game,” Shead said. “And it came down to that one single play. And any one of those one single plays could have deterred the rest of the season.”
You could tell by the smile on Shead face – another smile on his face – that it didn’t.
“We’ll have this ring forever,” he said. “And it’s got my name on it.”