Seattle Ring of Honor member Kenny Easley has been announced as a Senior Finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2017, with the Seahawks Legend having been selected by the HOF's Seniors Committee that met on Monday in Canton, Ohio.
Easley, a four-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl safety that the Seahawks took with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft out of UCLA, recorded 32 interceptions through seven seasons in the Pacific Northwest, racking up 538 return yards and three touchdowns in the process. He earned AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1981 and had a League-leading 10 picks including two pick-sixes in 1984, when he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
A member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1980s, Easley, nicknamed 'The Enforcer,' had a profound impact on the safety position, combining intimidation, solid tackling, ball-hawking skills and athleticism to pave the way for players like Kam Chancellor, Seattle's current Pro Bowl safety who grew up a fan of the fellow Virginia native Easley.
"That's definitely a great accomplishment for a guy who played the game very physical, very violent, who's kind of set that mold for younger guys like myself to come up and play this game," Chancellor said following training camp practice on Monday after learning of Easley's selection as a Senior Finalist. "Then just the fact that he's from my area, he's from Chesapeake and I'm from Norfolk, right next to each other. Learning about him in my last year of high school, doing my research on him, seeing what type of guy he was, how he played the game.
"I think it's an honor to play on the same team that he played on, and being called 'The Enforcer' after 'The Enforcer,' I think it's a great accomplishment for him and I think it's deserving."
Chancellor said it's "definitely a compliment" when he hears people comparing his play to Easley's, noting Easley brought "a whole another element to the game."
"Man, you just see a guy who's all over the field," Chancellor said of watching Easley's highlights. "He doesn't back down from anything. He always wants the contact, he's going to make sure you feel him, make sure you know he's there. He's a ball hawk. I've seen him covering ground, go get the ball, and when he gets the ball he's trying to score. He's definitely a very athletic safety from back in the day."
A senior nominee, in Easley's case, is a player whose career ended at least 25 years ago. When the Hall's Selection Committee meets on Saturday, February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas, it will consider 18 finalists, including one Senior (Easley), two Contributors (to be named Tuesday, Aug. 16), and 15 Modern-Era finalists (to be determined from a preliminary list announced in mid-September). The class can be made up of no smaller than four and no larger than eight members, with Easley needing the same 80 percent of the voting support required of all finalists.
"I'd vote for him," Chancellor said. "Definitely, definitely. That's hometown."
The Seahawks currently have three former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with wide receiver Steve Largent's induction coming in 1995, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy's in 2012, and left tackle Walter Jones' in 2014.
The Class of 2017 will be formally enshrined during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week in Canton next August.
Photos of ex-Seahawk Kenny Easley raising the 12 Man Flag for the 12s at the Divisional Playoff Game with the Carolina Panthers.