Steve Hutchinson, the left guard on the best offensive line in Seahawks history, has a good chance to someday go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his induction into football's most exclusive club will have to wait, as he missed out enshrinement in his first year of eligibility.
Hutchinson, one of 15 finalists this year, was hoping to join recent Seahawks inductees Kenny Easley, who went in last year, and Walter Jones, who was a first-ballot selection in 2014, as well as previous inductees Steve Largent and Cortez Kennedy.
Five of the 15 modern-era finalists were selected for induction: receivers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, and safety Brian Dawkins. Also going in are two senior finalists, linebacker Robert Brazile and guard Jerry Kramer, as well as a contributor finalist, former general manager Bobby Beathard.
Hutchinson made the Pro Bowl three times as a Seahawk (2003-2005) and seven times overall before leaving in free agency, and was an All-Pro three times in Seattle, earning first-team honors in 2003 and 2005 and second-team honors in 2004. He was also a first-team All-Pro three times in Minnesota and earned second-team honors once, giving him a total of five first-team and two second-team All-Pro nods.
Hutchinson was also part of the NFL's all-decade team for the 2000s along with Jones. The other guard on the all-decade team was Pittsburgh's Alan Faneca, who also missed out this year after being a finalist. In 2005, Hutchinson, Jones and the rest of the line helped the Seahawks score a franchise-record 452 points on the way to a 13-3 record and the first trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history.
Running behind Hutchinson, Jones and the rest of the line, made up of center Robbie Tobeck, right guard Chris Gray and right tackle Sean Locklear, running back Shaun Alexander earned NFL MVP honors, making him the only player in franchise history to win that award. Alexander rushed for 1,880 yards that season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and scored a then-NFL-record 28 total touchdowns.
"We were together on and off the field," Hutchinson said after raising the 12 Flag in 2014 with all five members of the 2005 line. "It was pretty special to have a run of four or five years there together, and the continuity showed on the field and off the field. It was the key to success as a team."
And despite leaving after his fifth season in Seattle, the Seahawks organization is particularly special to Hutchinson all these years later.
"This is the team that drafted me, so this is a special place," he said after raising the 12 Flag for a game last season. "This is the team that took a shot on me, and I like to think I helped build it to what it is now."
Hutchinson has also been moved by the way Seattle fans have embraced him even if his departure ruffled some feathers at the time.
"It's been great," he said. "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."
Another former Seahawks draft pick who was a finalist but fell short of election was center Kevin Mawae. Another member of the 2000s all-decade team, Mawae was drafted by the Seahawks in the second-round of the 1994 draft. Mawae began his career as a guard, but moved to center in 1996. He left Seattle for the New York Jets after four seasons, and went on to become an eight-time Pro-Bowler and seven-time first-team All-Pro with the Jets and Tennessee Titans.
"If I don't make it, I'll still be happy I'm one of the 15," Mawae told newyorkjets.com earlier this week. "If you're one of the 15 — like I am now — you are one of the best 400 guys who ever put on an NFL football helmet."
Before kickoff of the Wild Card Round, Seahawks Legend Steve Hutchinson raised the 12 Flag at CenturyLink Field.