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Seahawks in Black History: 12 Historic Seahawks Change-Makers and Black College Legends

Here are 12 figures who’ve made a lasting impact on the franchise and Black history, including some black college legends, a pair of pioneers in the scouting department, the first black Sea Gals director and more.

warren moon

With the month of February & Black History Month nearing its end, it's no better time to take a look at some impactful African American figures throughout Seahawks history.

Andy Bolton: Black College Pioneer

On June 4, 1974, the city of Seattle was awarded the league’s 28th franchise, with the Seahawks name coming a year later. The 1976 NFL Draft would be Seattle's first, with the team making 25 selections across 17 rounds. In Round 4, Seattle would select running back Andy Bolton out of Fisk University, a Historically Black College in Nashville, Tennessee. The institution became the first Black college to gain accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1930. From the times of segregated sports to present day, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have been a breeding ground for exceptional athletes across several sports - but especially football. Bolton would become the first HBCU player to be drafted by the Seahawks - but he certainly wouldn't be the last. 1976 would be Bolton's only season with the franchise, finishing his career with the Detroit Lions in 1978. But he opened the door for evaluation of HBCU stars from schools across Division I and Division II football.

Warren Moon: First Black Quarterback

University of Washington alum Warren Moon established himself as one of the all-time Husky greats in 1978, after leading UW to an upset Rose Bowl victory over the University of Michigan and taking home MVP honors. After going undrafted that year, the Los Angeles native joined the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He'd spend six seasons with the franchise, winning five-consecutive Grey Cup titles between 1978-1982.

In 1984, the Houston Oilers would bring Moon to the NFL, paving the way for him to become an instant starter and difference maker. After earning All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) in 1984, Moon earned the 1990 Offensive Player of the Year Award, six pro bowls and led the league twice in passing yards (1990,1991) while with Houston. The Titans/Oilers Ring of Honor member spent 1994-1996 with the Minnesota Vikings before joining the Seahawks in 1997 via free agency.

The move made Moon the first Black quarterback in franchise history at 41-years-old. In 14 starts across 15 appearances, Moon threw for 3,678 yards and 25 touchdowns to earn the ninth and final Pro Bowl appearance of his career. Moon spent two seasons with Seattle (1997,1998), before wrapping up his hall of fame career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Charlie Garcia and Ralph Goldstein: Breaking Down Doors

In Seattle's inaugural 1976 season as a new NFL expansion franchise, the Seahawks participated in their first draft. Coach Jack Patera hired two Black men, Charlie Garcia and Ralph Goldstein as team scouts. The duo would become the first Black scouts in Seahawks history, helping to select 25 players in their first draft.

Paris Brown: First Black Sea Gals Director

Before they were known as The Seahawks Dancers, Seattle's official cheerleading squad was known as The Sea Gals. The group was established in Seattle's inaugural 1976 season, blending different dance elements and genres. In 1981, cheerleader Paris Brown would be elevated to Sea Gals director, becoming the first Black woman to hold the title.

Tarvaris Jackson: Last-Drafted Black College Quarterback

In the 2006 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Alabama State University quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the second round.  After spending the start of his collegiate career with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, the Montgomery, Alabama native transferred to his hometown Black college in 2003. After leading the Hornets to several berths in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship, Minnesota made him the first Alabama State quarterback to be drafted since Ricky Jones in 1992.

Jackson would spend five seasons with the Vikings, playing 36 games with 24 passing touchdowns and 4 rushing touchdowns.

In 2011, Jackson joined the Seahawks via free agency, becoming an immediate starter. Across 14 starts, Jackson completed 271-450 passes (60%), along with 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air. After a brief stint with the Buffalo Bills in 2012, Jackson would return to Seattle during 2013's free agency period. Despite backing up Seahawks Legend Russell Wilson, Jackson became the first backup since 2000 to play in a Super Bowl, helping Seattle capture their first title with a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos. Jackson would be part of Seattle's 2014 squad, which climbed to 12-4 before falling 28-24 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

In 2020, the football world lost Jackson to a car accident just days before turning 37. He remains the last-drafted HBCU quarterback.

Russell Wilson: Super Bowl Pioneer

In the 2012 draft, Seattle selected Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round. As a rookie, Wilson tied Peyton Manning's first-year record for touchdown passes (26), along with 3,118 yards to set a new first-year passer rating record (100.0). After leading the Seahawks to the playoffs as a rookie, Wilson took his game to new heights in his sophomore campaign. The Richmond, Virginia native would throw for 26 touchdowns and 3,357 yards, helping the 13-3 Seahawks capture the NFC West title and a No. 1 seed in the 2013 playoffs. After leading Seattle past the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional and championship rounds, Wilson threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle's 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the Denver Broncos.

Not only was Wilson a key factor in Seattle capturing its first championship in franchise history, but Wilson would join Doug Williams (Super Bowl XXII) as the second African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl. In 2020, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes would win his first-of-three championships, joining the group.

Jerry Rice: Oldest in Charge

In the first round of the 1985 draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected Mississippi Valley State wideout Jerry Rice. The HBCU star moved on to the pros after shattering the NCAA record books with 301 receptions, 4,693 yards and 50 touchdowns.

Rice would help San Francisco win three super bowls (XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) across 16 seasons with the franchise, while becoming one of the most-decorated players in league history. The Super Bowl XXIII most valuable player was twice the NFL's offensive player of the year (1987, 1993), earned 10 first-team All-Pro selections, 12 pro bowl nominations and led the league in receiving yards six times (1986, 1989, 1990, 1993-1995).

In 2001, Rice joined the Oakland Raiders at 39-years-old, helping the Raiders to reach Super Bowl XXXVII against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After recording 3,286 yards and 18 touchdowns across three seasons, Rice was traded to the Seahawks in 2004 six games into the season. Across 11 games, Rice would nab 25 receptions for 362 yards (14.3ypc) and 3 touchdowns.

Across his career, Rice holds 36 NFL receiving records actively, ranging from receptions (1,549) to most 1,000-yard receiving seasons (14). But, in his final season of his career with the Seahawks at 42-years-old, Rice recorded one of his most-impressive records.

On December 6, 2004, Rice recorded eight receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks' 43-39 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. It stands as the only recorded 100-yard game by a player 40-or-older in league history.

Doug Baldwin, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril: Champions of Change

Despite hanging up his cleats after an eight-year career solely with the Seahawks in 2018, Super Bowl XLVIII Champion wideout Doug Baldwin continues to win the hearts of 12s across the Pacific-Northwest and beyond. The 2023 Paul G. Allen Humanitarian Award winner is just as revered for his passion to create change and speak for the voiceless as he is for his 493 career receptions and 49 touchdowns.

Before Baldwin was the founder of Renton's Family First Community Center, the Stanford alum was inspired by the widespread instances of injustice happening around the country following Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII win. Baldwin joined teammates Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman in speaking out to shed light on stories of unarmed black citizens killed by police and the injustices many people of color face daily. But the Gulf Breeze, Florida native and son of a police officer has continued to go further with his actions to create change over the past decade.

Dwayne Harper: From Late to Great

The NFL Draft is now seven rounds, but when Seattle selected South Carolina State cornerback Dwayne Harper in 1988, he was selected in round 11 of 12. The HBCU in Orangeburg, South Carolina is home to over 30 draft selections and four members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Harry Carson, Deacon Jones, Marion Motley, Donnie Shell). Continuing a long line of Black college excellence at the pro level, Harper quickly rose from a late pick and rotation player as a rookie to a full-time starter. In 1989, Harper became a starter, recording 49 tackles and two interceptions.

Across six seasons with Seattle, Harper would record 50-plus tackles four-consecutive times (1990-1993), along with 13 interceptions, five fumble recoveries and a sack.

Harper would move on to the San Diego Chargers in 1994, playing five seasons with the franchise before ending his career with the Detroit Lions in 1999.

Before they were selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Draft, they were hopeful prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine. Take a look at current and former Seahawks players participating in their Combine events.

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