“A Great Football Player And Leader In Our Program,” Kam Chancellor Left An Impressive Legacy With Seahawks
By John Boyle
Kam Chancellor wasn’t ready to lead when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll first suggested that the young safety had that ability in him despite his status as a rookie.
“Coach, I haven’t even done anything yet,” was Chancellor’s response, he recalled years later.
Over time, however, Chancellor did plenty that proved not just to his teammates and coaches, but also to himself that he had what it took not just to be one of the NFL’s best safeties, but a player who can make those around him better through his words and actions.
Last season, Chancellor was unable to play, the result of a neck injury sustained during the 2017 season, but living up to the potential Carroll saw in him before he saw it in himself, Chancellor continued to help his Seahawks teammates, making frequent appearances at practices and games, sometimes traveling with the team to road games.
Now, in a procedural move that has been expected, Chancellor’s career as a Seahawks player is officially over with the team terminating his contract with a failed physical designation, but Chancellor likely isn’t done leaving his mark on the Seahawks.
“He’s an extraordinary individual,” Carroll said last season. “He has always been a big factor, not just with what he does on the field, but who he is and how he’s been around us. He’s been with the team all year. Traveling with us now is just another statement of how we want him connected to us and we’d like him to be connected to us always. He helps young guys, he helps old guys, he helps coaches. He’s just one of those guys that has a way about him. It fits and makes other people play better and do better. He’s an inspiration and a great guy to have with us.”
After the season ended, Carroll made it clear that he hopes to have Chancellor around in 2019 and beyond.
“I loved having him around,” Carroll said. “Every time that he was with us on the road late in the season, I just loved him being with us because he is a steadying force. He’s one of those guys that helps other people perform better and feel more confident and feel better about themselves. He has a way of doing that. He was very helpful and I hope that we can keep him close to the program. He’s got great input.”
Of course before Chancellor became a valuable resource off the field following his injury, he established himself as a franchise icon for his physicality and playmaking ability on the field. Chancellor was a four-time Pro-Bowler and a two-time second-team All-Pro during his eight seasons with the Seahawks, piling up 606 career tackles, 12 interceptions, nine forced fumbles and 44 passes defensed. He saved some of his best performances for the biggest games, including Seattle’s dominant Super Bowl XLVIII victory in which he recorded nine tackles, an interception, two passes defensed and a huge tone-setting hit on Demaryius Thomas on Denver’s third offensive play. A year later in a playoff win over Carolina, Chancellor recorded 10 tackles, returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown, and twice hurdled Carolina’s line trying to block field-goal attempts.
With Chancellor helping anchor Seattle’s secondary, the Seahawks had one of the best defenses in NFL history, a unit that led the NFL in total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and takeaways, and that held the highest scoring offense of all time to a single score in Super Bowl XLVIII. From 2012-2015, the Seahawks led the NFL in scoring defense four straight times, something no team had previously accomplished during the Super Bowl era.
“This is a great kid, he’s a great leader, he’s a tough guy, he’s a heart-and-soul guy,” Carroll said when Chancellor signed a contract extension in 2017. “He’s a fifth-round draft pick who broke all the way through from that to become a great football player and leader in our program.”
The honors and numbers, however, don’t tell the full story of Chancellor’s Seahawks career, impressive as they may be. What really made Chancellor stand out was the way he set a tone, both with his presence on his own team, and with his jarring hits on opponents—he got his nickname, Bam Bam, tattooed on his shoulders so he could “stamp” opponents with his big hits.
“First off, there’s his physical nature on the football field, his physical presence,” receiver Doug Baldwin once said of Chancellor. “He kind of brings a swagger to the defense, and to the whole team really. There aren’t many people who can go up against Kam and win that battle, so he kind of brings the hammer for the whole team. Then obviously his leadership in the locker room, he’s just one of those guys who is down to earth. He can talk to anybody, have a conversation with anybody, cares genuinely about everybody, and he brings everybody together.”
Chancellor’s teammates elected him as a team captain three times, and twice made him the team’s Steve Largent Award winner, and he also proved his value in the community both in the Puget Sound region and his hometown of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Chancellor’s Kam Cares Foundation helps “equip children from underserved communities in Hampton Roads and Seattle areas with educational, health, and wellness tools and resources to position students for greater academic success.” Chancellor also hosts a “Bam Bam Spring Jam” every Memorial Day Weekend in Norfolk, Va., an event that includes a free cookout. Over the holidays, Chancellor organizes a toy drive to benefit Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
Few players have made a bigger impact on the Seahawks—and on opponents for that matter—than Chancellor, and as his continued leadership showed last season, the end of his playing days with Seattle doesn’t mean he’s done helping make the Seahawks and the region better with his presence.
Take a look back at some of the best photos and moments from strong safety Kam Chancellor's career with the Seattle Seahawks.