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This No. 31 belongs to Chancellor

Posted Apr 4, 2012

Kam Chancellor has been No. 31 for the Seahawks the past two seasons, but when he slipped into his new-look No. 31 jersey on Tuesday it took on a special meaning for the Pro Bowl strong safety.


NEW YORK – Kam Chancellor has been No. 31 since shortly after the Seahawks selected the super-sized strong safety from Virginia Tech in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

He wore it last season, when Chancellor finished second on the team with 94 tackles, and finished his second NFL season by playing in the Pro Bowl. He wore it as a rookie, when Chancellor had to wait his turn to get some situational snaps on defense but finished second in special teams tackles.

But the No. 31 Chancellor was wearing on Tuesday, when the NFL and Nike unveiled the league’s new uniforms during a presentation in a Brooklyn warehouse that was transformed into Nike Stadium, was different. This is Chancellor’s No. 31.

“It feels like it’s the start of a new beginning – just having the No. 31 in a Nike jersey, and this Nike jersey,” he said after the presentation – while seated on a stool next to the New York-based media mob that was surrounding Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.

Chancellor might have been upstaged during the Q&A session, but earlier he was center stage – as well as the first player to take the stage – because the Seahawks are the only team that got a complete makeover.

To say that the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Chancellor looked formidable in the team’s new uniform does not tell the whole story of just how impressive a figure he cut on what just also happened to be his 24th birthday.

And everyone, it seems, took notice. Seahawks.com got 7.5 million page views on Tuesday. And the new uniforms modeled by the other 31 players were trimmed with a bit of green around the edges.

“We don’t have Seattle’s uniform, which are mind-boggling,” Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley said. “They’re awesome. The Seahawks got some bangin’ suits, and Nike did really well with them.”

Well enough that it had other players from the other teams also clamoring for a similar makeover.

“I’m kind of mad. I’m upset,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount said. “I like that look. That’s sweet.”

But for now, the Seahawks are unique – because of the uniqueness of their new uniforms. The last time they made a drastic change was in 2002, when they broke out new uniforms and new colors to coincide with the move into their new state-of-the-art stadium.

At the fashion show-style event to unveil the uniforms the team would wear for the next 10 seasons, former cornerback Shawn Springs made comments very similar to those Chancellor offered Tuesday.

“A lot of guys have been No. 24 for the Seahawks,” said Springs, who also played in a Pro Bowl during his seven-season stay in Seattle and was voted to the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.

“But I’m the first No. 24 in this uniform. So it’s special to me now, and always will be.”

Before Springs, running back Al Hunter (1977-80) and cornerbacks Terry Taylor (1984-88) and Melvin Jenkins (1989-90) had worn No. 24 for the Seahawks, among others. Like Springs, Taylor was a first-round draft choice. But the others never wore the number on the same uniform that Springs made his own.

Now, it’s Chancellor’s turn to experience that feeling of ownership.

Before him, No. 31 had belonged to fullback Tony Benjamin (1977-79), running backs Zach Dixon (1983-84) and Steve Broussard (1995-98) and kick returner Charlie Rogers (1999-2001), among others. But Chancellor is the first to don the digits in the team’s new duds.

“I can always say I was the first one to wear No. 31 in a Nike jersey for the Seahawks,” Chancellor said. “And that is a special feeling. It feels good.”

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks