The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced finalists for its Class of 2019 on Thursday, and four former Seahawks, including one who was part of the best offensive line in club history and helped guide the team to its first Super Bowl, made the cut.
Guard Steve Hutchinson, center Kevin Mawae, running back Edgerrin James, and coach Tom Flores, all former Seahawks, were among the 15 Modern-Era Finalists revealed. Steve Atwater, Champ Bailey, Tony Boselli, Issac Bruce, Don Coryell, Alan Faneca, Tony Gonzalez, Ty Law, John Lynch, Ed Reed, and Richard Seymour round out the Hall's list of Modern-Era Finalists.
Hutchinson, who made the Pro Bowl three times and was a three-time All-Pro in his five seasons (2001-05) with the Seahawks, anchored the left side of Seattle’s offensive line with Pro Football Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones during the team’s run to Super Bowl XL. Part of the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2000s, Hutchinson worked alongside Jones, center Robbie Tobeck, right guard Chris Gray, and right tackle Sean Locklear to pave the way for Shaun Alexander’s MVP season in 2005, when the Seahawks running back rushed for 1,880 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per carry, and scored 28 touchdowns, which was then an NFL record.
Now in his second year of eligibility, Hutchinson hopes to join recent Seahawks Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Kenny Easley, who was elected into the Class of 2017, and Jones, a first-ballot selection in 2014, as well as previous Hall of Fame inductees Steve Largent and Cortez Kennedy.
Easley, Jones, Largent, and Kennedy each spent their entire NFL playing careers with the Seahawks, but Hutchinson joined the Minnesota Vikings after his fifth season with Seattle, going on to earn three more All-Pro selections and four more Pro Bowl honors. Despite departing from the team in free agency, Hutchinson has since been embraced by Seahawks fans and the organization, raising the 12 Flag in 2014 with all five members of the offensive line that led the Seahawks to the 2005 Super Bowl, and returning to raise the 12 Flag prior to the Seahawks’ Wild Card playoff game against the Detroit Lions in the 2016 season.
“This is the team that drafted me, so this is a special place,” Hutchinson, a first-round pick by the Seahawks in 2001, said after raising the 12 Flag for Seattle’s playoff game against Detroit. “This is the team that took a shot on me, and I like to think I helped build it to what it is now.”
“It’s been great,” Hutchinson added that day of the welcome he received from Seattle’s fanbase. “It took a while, I think there was a little bit of scarring there, but here we are 10 years later. To be able to do this and see the crowd go wild, it’s great.”
Mawae, another former Seahawks draft pick, spent four seasons with Seattle (1994-97) and is a Hall of Fame finalist for the fifth time. The former second-round pick by the Seahawks was named to the league’s All-Rookie Team in his first season, starting his career as a guard but moving to center in 1996. Mawae joined the Jets in 1998 and went on to become an eight-time Pro Bowler and seven-time first-team All-Pro with New York and the Tennessee Titans.
James’ Hall of Fame resume, meanwhile, comes from his seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (1999-2005) and Arizona Cardinals (2006-08), but the running back spent time with the Seahawks in 2009, playing in seven games for Seattle and rushing for the final 125 of his 12,246 career yards on the ground. Like Mawae, James is also in his fifth year of Hall of Fame eligibility.
Flores capped his 12-year head-coaching career in the NFL with the Seahawks, guiding the team from 1992-94 and also serving as the team’s president/general manager from 1989-94. He led the Seahawks to 16 wins in his three seasons as head coach and ended his coaching career with a 97-87 regular-season mark and 8-3 postseason record, including two Super Bowl wins with the Raiders.