One of the most important leaders on the best team in Seahawks history is now a nominee for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Safety Kam Chancellor, who helped anchor a defense that led the NFL in scoring defense for four straight seasons, and a tone-setter with his intensity and physical play, is one of 129-modern era nominees for the Hall of Fame's 2023 class, and is one of nine first-time nominees.
The list of modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November, then to 15 finalists in January.
Chancellor is one of five players who spent a significant portion of their careers in Seattle along with running back Shaun Alexander, who will go into the team’s Ring of Honor next month, quarterback Dave Krieg, linebacker Chad Brown and running back Ricky Watters.
Other modern-era nominees who played in regular-season or playoff games for the Seahawks are punter Jeff Feagles, kicker John Kasay, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, defensive end Dwight Freeney, receiver and return specialist Devin Hester, and kicker Ryan Longwell.
When all is said and done, there figures to be several players from the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era teams to end up in the Hall of Fame, and Chancellor, whose career was cut short by a 2017 neck injury, is the first player from his era to be up for Hall of Fame consideration.
Chancellor was a four-time Pro-Bowler and two-time second-team All-Pro in his eight seasons with the Seahawks, recording 606 career tackles, 12 interceptions, nine forced fumbles and 44 passes defensed. Chancellor was also a three-time team captain and was twice voted the winner of the team's prestigious Steve Largent Award.
Chancellor also saved some of his best performances for the postseason as the Seahawks went to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XLVIII in dominant fashion thanks in no small part to Chancellor, who recorded nine tackles, an interception and two passes defensed, and perhaps most significantly, a tone-setting hit on receiver Demaryius Thomas on Denver's third play from scrimmage. A year later in a Divisional Round win over Carolina, Chancellor turned in one of the best individual performances in Seahawks postseason history, recording 10 tackles, a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown, and a line-hurdling blocked field goal.
"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."
And for all of Chancellor's accolades or statistical achievements, none of that really defines his greatness or his significance to those Seahawks teams. Chancellor was THE alpha in a locker room full of alphas, and much like Hall of Fame safety Kenny Easley before him, Chancellor he was the player who could put fear in opposing offenses thanks to his ability to dish out devastating hits. And yet off the field he was nothing like his intimidating on-field persona.
"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."
As for repeat nominees, perhaps Alexander's Ring of Honor enshrinement will cause Hall of Fame voters to revisit his impressive credentials. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2000s All-Decade team and the 2005 MVP, Alexander had a dominant five-year span in which he averaged 1,500.8 rushing yards and 19.6 total touchdowns from 2001-2005. And Alexander's 112 total touchdowns are the 17th most in NFL history, with every eligible player ahead of him on that list already in the Hall of Fame.
Take a look back at some of the best photos and moments from strong safety Kam Chancellor's career with the Seattle Seahawks.