|BLUE-AND-GREEN DREAM TEAM|
The Seahawks' 35th Anniversary team, as selected by the readers of Seahawks.com in 2010:
After a 39th season that ended a yard short in the loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX and an offseason that started with the blockbuster trade to acquire Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints, it's easy to lose track of the fact that the upcoming season will be the Seahawks' 40th anniversary.
Many of the team's current fans weren't even alive for that first season in 1976, and it's understandable just how distant that inaugural season can seem for those 12s who were around.
But the 40th anniversary for any team is a big deal, especially one that has been through the triumphs and tribulations the Seahawks have celebrated and endured – from the euphoria of just having an NFL franchise; to the first rush of success under coach Chuck Knox; to the lost years of the 1990s, when former owner Ken Behring attempted to move the franchise to Southern California; to the second surge of success under coach Mike Holmgren; to the combined nine victories during the 2008 and 2009 seasons; to the current "doing it better than it's ever been done before" joy ride under coach Pete Carroll.
Just how the club will mark this historic season remains in the planning stages, but we're here to address the selection of a 40th Anniversary team.
The first issue to deal with: Is it even necessary? Seahawks.com had its readers select a 35th Anniversary team. And that raises another question: If there is to be a 40th Anniversary team, should it be voted on by the 12s, selected by an individual (which I did while working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2000 because the team opted not to do it) or compiled by a panel?
And that leads us to the even-tougher task: Which players on the current roster should bump those selected to the 35th Anniversary Team?
Here are a few thought to jumpstart the debate:
Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck or Russell Wilson?
This is a good place to start, because Wilson has become the darling of those 12-come-lately fans in just three seasons because of his performance on the field and persona off the field. This became apparent during the "Look Who's Coming to the Game" features we've done and the number of fans who select Wilson as the favorite all-time Seahawk.
And his success has been staggering, beginning with his 42-14 record as the starter, including playoffs. But it's been only three seasons, while Hasselbeck was the QB during the five-season run in the mid-2000s when the Seahawks won four NFC West titles, advanced to the postseason five times and played in the franchise's first Super Bowl. The oh-yeah counter, of course, is that Wilson has led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl victory, played in the title game the past two seasons and won back-to-back NFC championships.
Running back: Shaun Alexander or Marshawn Lynch?
Lynch and his Beast Mode style also have become a fan favorite. And how can you not be a fan because of how hard Lynch plays and the production his efforts generate? And he's been at his best in the biggest games, with the top two postseason rushing performances in franchise history and four of the Top 5.
Alexander's trump card, of course, was 2005 – when he became the only player in club history to be voted league MVP after scoring a then-NFL record 28 touchdowns and leading the league with a franchise-record 1,880 rushing yards. Alexander surpassed 1,000 rushing yards five times and scored a franchise-record 112 touchdowns during his eight-season stay with the Seahawks. In four full seasons with the Seahawks, Lynch has four 1,000-yard seasons and has scored 56 TDs.
Middle linebacker: Lofa Tatupu or Bobby Wagner?
Tatupu is back, as the team's assistant linebackers coach. So he'll be working with Wagner, who was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl for the first time during the 2014 season. Wagner has gotten better in each of his first three seasons with the Seahawks, and missing five games at midseason cost him the chance to become the seventh player in franchise history to lead the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons.
But Tatupu is the only one to do it four times, from his rookie season in 2005 through 2008. His instincts were off the charts, from the first day he stepped on the field at the team's rookie minicamp. Injuries cut his career short, but in six seasons he had 551 tackles, 10 interceptions and 8.5 sacks. In Wagner's first three seasons, he has 363 tackles, five interceptions and nine sacks.
Cornerback: Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant and Shawn Springs or Richard Sherman?
Brown and Trufant were the cornerbacks on the 35th Anniversary team – Brown on the right side, Trufant on the left side; which is where they started for most of the 11- and 10-season careers with the Seahawks. Springs was the nickel back. Brown is the franchise's all-time leader with 50 interceptions and ranks seventh with 684 tackles. Trufant is fifth with 21 interceptions and 10th with 628 tackles, while Springs is tied for seventh with 20 interceptions. Each was voted to the Pro Bowl once.
But just look at what Sherman has done since stepping into the starting lineup on the left side midway through his rookie season in 2011: 24 interceptions, 221 tackles, 68 passes defensed, three All-Pro selections and two Pro Bowl berths. Those 24 picks tie Sherman for second with Ring of Honor strong safety Kenny Easley for the most in the first four seasons of career since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 – one behind the duo of Lester Hayes and Everson Walls.
Free safety: Eugene Robinson or Earl Thomas?
Robinson remains the franchise's all-time leading tackler (984) and ranks second to Brown in interceptions (42). He's also second in forced fumbles (14). He had nine interceptions to lead the league in 1993 and was voted to the Pro Bowl twice. Not bad for a guy who somehow made the team as a free-agent rookie cornerback out of Colgate in 1985.
Thomas, a first-round pick in coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider's first draft in 2010, has been voted to the Pro Bowl four times in five seasons and also selected All-Pro the past three seasons. Like Robinson, Thomas is a full-service safety – 16 interceptions, including five each in 2010 and 2013; and 419 tackles, including 100 in 2013 and 95 last season.
Punter: Rick Tuten or Jon Ryan?
Has Ryan done enough since joining the team in 2008 to give Bootin' Tuten the boot? Tuten's resume includes something Ryan has yet to accomplish – a Pro Bowl berth after the 1994 season. But Tuten's what-did-he-just-do moment came in 1992, when he punted 108 times for 4,760 yards during the Seahawks' 2-14 season.
Ryan possesses both leg strength and a deft touch. He holds the franchise's top three marks for season average, including a club-record 46.6 in 2011; and net average, including a club-record 40.8 in 2012. And he led the league with 34 punts inside the 20-yard line in 2011.
So there you have it – or at least one man's view of the potential pick-one-over-the-other predicament.