One of two teams to join the NFL in 1976, the Seattle Seahawks have experienced four full decades of weirdness at nearly every turn – but at least they’ve got their one Lombardi Trophy. The name “Seahawks” itself was chosen by public vote in 1976, apparently by folks unaware that the appellation had been worn by one other NFL franchise: The immortal 1946 Miami Seahawks. Good choice, though, with a nice assonance.
The oddities began when team spokesman/co-VP Lloyd Nordstrom suddenly suffered a massive heart attack when vacationing just before the NFL Draft. In said draft, the Seahwaks selected DLl Steve Niehaus as the no. 2 overall pick; Niehaus would be named 1976 NFL Rookie of the Year, but his knee injury woes began in ’77, and he’d be OOF by ’80.
The Seahawks’ inaugural season had the team playing in the NFC West with a goofy schedule which simply included the other 13 NFC teams plus fellow expansioneers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Naturally, that game in Tampa Bay marked the Seahawks’ first-ever win, and three weeks later they’d get their first home win against the Atlanta Falcons. For that first year (and six more thereafter), the Seahawks QB was Jim Zorn. This noodle-armed lefty was ultimately 40-60 as Seattle’s starter with 133 interceptions thrown against 107 TDs.
Head coach Chuck Knox came over from Buffalo for 1983 and, save future Hall of Famer/conservative Oklahoma senator Steve Largent, essentially rebuilt the team. No. 3 overall draft pick Curt Warner took over at RB, while Dave Krieg was named the starter. Despite a point differential of just +6 for the seaon, the Seahawks’ 9-7 record was just enough to squeak into the playoffs. In the divisional round, Seattle’s spirited fourth quarter eliminated the Miami Dolphins, 8-point favorites who’d come into the game on a 9-1 run. Sadly, the ’Hawks were no match for the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC championship.
That game precipitated an incredible 21-season run (1989 to 2002) without a playoff win. Smack dab in the middle of a 14-year run which featured a single postseason appearance, ownership nearly relocated the team to Anaheim thanks to financial issues. Also of note: In 1987, the Seahwaks found their new franchise player: No. 2 overall draft pick Brian Bosworth. Boz did in fact make the ’87 NFL All-Rookie Season, but by ’91, he was OOF and starring in the cinematic classic Stone Cold. So, yeah.
For 2002, the Seahawks were shifted back to the now four-team NFC West thus becoming the only team to twice switch conferences. And finally, in ’05, the Mike Holmgren-coached Seahawks of Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander (Seattle’s first Madden cover boy) won in the playoffs and won again to get into Super Bowl XL. That game was of course one hell of an outlier in that this game could represent the single worst officiating job ever done in an NFL game. How bad was it? Bad enough so that NFL Films (!) produced a video of the top 10 (!!!) most controversial calls; bad enough so that the head referee publicly apologized thereafter for his crew’s changing of the game’s outcome; and bad enough to keep Seahawks fans bitter for eight years.
Heading into the 20s, we can see that the Seahawks’ golden age was head coach Pete Carroll’s tenure in the 10s. Carroll, armed with All-Pros (not to mention all-pro characters) on both sides of the ball, got Seattle into the playoffs six times before being replaced for the 2019 season.
The Carroll Era was naturally marked by the typical Seattle weirdness. With Matt Hasselbeck still the starting QB, the Seahwaks became the first team to make the NFL playoffs at 7-9 and the first sub-.500 team to win a playoff game. Three years later, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch and Russell Wilson led the Seahawks on a 43-8 rampaging of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, a 1980s flashback and the largest margin of victory since the Buffalo Bills were playing in the big game.
Two years later, the Seahawks returned to the Super Bowl to face *those* New England Patriots. After nearly completing the orchestration of a New York Giants-like comeback drive in the fourth quarter, Carroll first refused to call a timeout with 20 seconds or less ticking away and called for Wilson to telegraph a pass from the 2-yerd line. Game over, and the dissolution of the greatest Seattle Seahawks team ever began…
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