Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks to celebrate turning 40 years old at home opener

Seattle coach Chuck Knox, is carried from the field after his Seahawks defeated the Miami Dolphins in the AFC-playoff game at Miami on Saturday, Dec. 31, 1983 with a score of 27-20.
Seattle coach Chuck Knox, is carried from the field after his Seahawks defeated the Miami Dolphins in the AFC-playoff game at Miami on Saturday, Dec. 31, 1983 with a score of 27-20. AP

When somebody compliments a writer on his ability to bring perspective to a topic, it’s a nice way to say “man, you’re old.”

But there’s value in the veterans, especially since we don’t have an official salary cap at the newspaper.

This week may be one of those times as the Seattle Seahawks host the home-opener of their 40th anniversary season.

The team will recognize some 50 “Seahawk Legends” on the field at halftime.

Of the 39 previous seasons, the Seahawks have never enjoyed a stretch of success as they’ve had the past three (36 wins in the regular seasons).

I’ve covered the Hawks as a beat guy or columnist for 28 seasons, with occasional coverage going back further, to the early ‘80s, adding up to staffing probably 400 or so games and thousands of practices.

Because I can’t face the notion of rehashing Sunday’s loss to Green Bay any more, I’d rather look back and give you a little briefing on some of the notable players and moments you might be hearing about this week as the alumni are honored.

▪  The biggest win: It’s easy and obvious to point to the Super Bowl win or the NFC championship seasons, but I think the one crucial point in establishing the Seahawks as more than a weakling expansion franchise was the 27-20 playoff win at Miami after the 1983 season.

Although only 8 years old, the Seahawks earned their way into the AFC Championship game by beating the Dolphins. They lost to a terrific Raiders team in Los Angeles, but a strong statement was made.

▪  Best player: All the Hall of Famers — Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones — are neck-and-neck. But I’d say Jones by a nose. Jones made the difficult position of left tackle look so ridiculously easy.

If things continue as they are, there could be a few Hall of Famers off the current team, too. Richard Sherman is another who does things so naturally and with such instinct it doesn’t seem like he even has to work at it.

▪  Most memorable game (at least for those of us in the press box): Seattle over Denver, Nov. 30, 1992. It wasn’t because the Seahawks broke an eight-game losing streak in their worst season, but because the franchise held ceremonies to induct announcer Pete Gross into the Ring of Honor.

The only radio play-by-play broadcaster the team had in those first 17 seasons, a fine and talented man, Gross died of cancer two days later.

▪  Biggest disappointment as a player: They have had some expensive guys not pan out, such as Dan McGwire, Percy Harvin, etc.

Brian Bosworth’s career was limited by injuries, which should mitigate some criticism, but he made himself such a social phenomenon that it seemed like a massive failing when it all petered out.

Besides, he once nailed me in the head with a wad of rolled-up tape he had taken off his wrists while walking off the field. A cameraman standing next to me was taking his picture and Boz apparently objected to it and unleashed a fastball. The cameraman ducked and I caught it in the temple as an innocent bystander.

▪  Most crushing injury: Simple, Curt Warner, knee, first game of 1984. The team rallied without him, and he regained Pro Bowl form in later seasons, but his career, which had been on a stratospheric trajectory, leveled off somewhat short of where it obviously could have reached.

▪  Underappreciated workmen: The stars get attention and big salaries, but there always has been a corps of guys who do their jobs with impressive resilience and reliability.

A few who most notably showed up every week regardless how much it hurt were Joe Nash, Chris Gray and Mack Strong. A tip of the hard hat to you.

▪  Biggest hitter: This might hurt at the moment, but I’d give it to Kam Chancellor in a close decision over Kenny Easley. Easley may be the best athlete ever here, with amazing stopping power.

But Chancellor is historically explosive. When he’s playing.

▪  High-effort guys: I always admired linebacker Chad Brown for his relentless “motor.”

But running back Marshawn Lynch often exhausts the typical admirable “second effort” just to get back to the line of scrimmage. All the big yardage comes on third, fourth, fifth effort.

▪  Nicest guy: I toss this in and finish with it because it’s a question I get asked so often by fans. There’s been a ton of them.

Guard Edwin “Pearl” Bailey was a champ. So humble. There were great stories of him riding buses to the headquarters every day because he didn’t have a car, and packing his own sandwiches for lunch.

Matt Hasselbeck never let being a Pro Bowl quarterback go to his head. He was bright and funny and took a genuine interest in others — even the local beat guys. Such a great interview.

Hard to beat Cortez Kennedy, though, a true gentleman who seemed loved by every teammate he ever had and anybody who worked with him.

He’s expected to be there with the rest of the “Legends” to be honored at CenturyLink on Sunday.

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