- History of the Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are a professional
American footballteam organized in 1976 and based in Seattle, Washington, USA. This article details the history of the Seattle SeahawksAmerican Football Club.
June 15 1972"Seattle Professional Football Inc.", a group of Seattle business and community leaders started by Herman Sarkowskyand Ned Skinner, announced its intention to acquire an NFL franchise for the city of Seattle, WA. [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/sports2day/273934_look15.html] Almost 2 years later on June 4, 1974, the NFL awarded the group an expansion franchise. On December 5, 1974, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelleannounced the official signing of the franchise agreement by Lloyd W. Nordstrom, representing the Nordstrom family as majority partners for the consortium. Sadly, Lloyd would die of a heart attack on January 20, 1976, just months before the Seahawks played their first game. [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/sports2day/256367_look20.html]
March 5 1975 John Thompson, a former University of Washingtonexecutive, was hired as the general manager of the yet-unnamed team. The name "Seattle Seahawks" was selected on June 17, 1975after a public naming contest which drew more than 20,000 entries and over 1,700 different names. Thompson recruited and hired Jack Patera, a Minnesota Vikingsassistant coach, to be the first head coach of the new team. Patera was introduced as the new head coach at a press conference on January 3 1976. The expansion draft was held March 30 through the 31, 1976, with Seattle and the Tampa Bay Buccaneersalternating picks for 39 rounds selecting unprotected players from the other 26 teams in the league. [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/release.jsp?release_id=1284] The Seahawks were awarded the 2nd overall pick in the 1976 draft, a pick they used on defensive tackle Steve Niehaus. The team took the field for the first time on August 1 1976in a pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ersin the then brand new Kingdome.
The Seahawks are the only NFL team to switch conferences twice in the post-merger era. The franchise began play in 1976 in the
NFC Westdivision but switched conferences with the Buccaneers after one season and joined the AFC West. This realignment was dictated by the league as part of the 1976 expansion plan, so that both expansion teams could play each other twice and every other NFL franchise once during their first two seasons. In 2002, the Seahawks were returned to the NFC West as part of an NFL realignment plan that gave each conference four balanced divisions of four teams each. This realignment restored the AFC West to its initial post-merger roster of original AFL teams Denver, San Diego, Kansas City and Oakland.
Seattle has won six division titles in their franchise history: the 1988 and 1999 AFC West titles, and the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 NFC West titles. They have won the
NFC Championship Gameonce in 2005, and lost the AFC Championship Gameonce in 1983. Prior to 2005 Seattle had the longest drought of playoff victories of any NFL team, dating back to the 1984 season. That drought was ended with a 20-10 win over the Washington Redskinsin the 2005 playoffs. The all-time Seahawks playoff record is (6-9).
The Cinderella years (1976-1979)
The Seahawks had their biggest "win" before ever taking the field for a regular season game. On
August 26 1976the Seahawks traded an eighth round pick in 1977 to the Houston Oilers for Steve Largent. The franchise's first win came on October 17when they beat their expansion brethren Tampa Bay Buccaneers13-10 at Tampa Bay. On November 7they won their first game at home, 30-13 over the Atlanta Falcons. Those were the lone victories in an inaugural 2-12 season. However, the exciting play of Jim Zornand Largent served notice of the entertainment to come.
The Seahawks hosted the 1977
Pro Bowlin the Kingdomeon January 17 1977, and a sellout crowd of 63,214 saw the AFC beat the NFC 24-14. It was the first sellout in Pro Bowl history.
In a reversal of the cunning that brought them Largent, the Seahawks traded their first round pick in 1977 to the
Dallas Cowboysin exchange for a first and 3 second round draft picks. Dallas would select Tony Dorsettwith the pick obtained from Seattle.
The 1977 season began with four straight losses before Tampa Bay came to town. The Seahawks won "Expansion Bowl II" by a score of 30-23. Two weeks later the season highlight happened on
October 30when quarterback Jim Zorncame back from missing four games with an injury to throw four touchdown passes in a 56-17 win over the Buffalo Billsat the Kingdome. The 1977 Seahawks would finish with a record of 5-9, to establish a then record for wins by a second year franchise.
In 1978, the Seahawks achieved their first winning season with a 9-7 record as WR
Steve Largentfinished second in the NFL with 1,168 receiving yards, Jack Paterawas named NFL Coach of the Year and Jim Zornwas named AFC Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Washington, DC. Season highlights included becoming the first team since 1965 to sweep the Raiders (27-7 win at home and a 17-16 win in Oakland).
In 1979, the Seahawks attracted a national following after their first appearance on
Monday Night Footballon October 29 1979. After trailing 14-0 against the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle battled back to win 31-28. A fake field goal pass from Zorn to kicker Efren Herreraled Howard Cosellto exclaim "the Seahawks are giving the nation a lesson in entertaining football!" The good vibe was short-lived, as the next week the Seahawks set an NFL record for the lowest total offense in one game (minus 7 yards) in a 24-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at the Kingdome. The team rebounded from that embarrassment to win 5 of their last 6 games, including a 30-7 victory over the New York Jetson MNF, to finish with a 9-7 record.
The Dark Ages (1979-1982)
Great hopes after consecutive winning seasons were crushed in 1980. The Seahawks lost their last 9 games to turn a 4-3 record into a 4-12 season. The collapse did enable the Seahawks to select safety
Kenny Easleyout of UCLAin the first round of the 1981 draft.
In 1981 the Seahawks lost five of their first six games on their way to a 6-10 record.
Steve Largenthad another stellar season with 1,224 receiving yards. Dave Kriegmade his first career start in place of an injured Zorn on December 6 1981, completing 20 of 26 passes in a 27-23 win over the Jets.
In the strike-shortened season of 1982, the Seahawks fired Patera after losing their first two games. Interim coach
Mike McCormackwould finish out the rest of the season and the Seahawks compiled a 4-5 record.
The Chuck Knox Era (1983-1991)
After a disappointing 1982 season (which was shortened because of a players' strike), the Seahawks moved interim coach Mike McCormack back into the front office and hired
Chuck Knoxas their head coach. In 1983 the Seahawks were battling for a playoff berth with a 6-6 record. Then in week 13, the Seahawks beat the Kansas City Chiefs51-48 at the Kingdome to start their winning ways. They would win 2 of the next 3 games to earn their first ever playoff berth. In the wild-card playoffs the Seahawks shut down the Denver Broncosand their rookie quarterback John Elway31-7. The next week at the Miami Orange Bowlthe Seahawks drove 66 yards in 5 plays that ended with a game-winning touchdown for the Seahawks' 27-20 victory over the Miami Dolphinsand their rookie quarterback Dan Marino. The Seahawks' miracle season ended in the AFC Championship Gameas they lost to the eventual Super Bowl XVIIIchampion Los Angeles Raiders 30-14. Despite the 1983 season ending on a sour note, it was the first breakthrough season for the Seahawks. Curt Warnerrushed for 1449 yards, scored 14 touchdowns, and was named AFC Rookie Of The Year. Chuck Knox was named AFC Coach Of The Year.
The first game of 1984 proved to be expensive, as Curt Warner suffered a season ending knee injury in the 33-0 win over the
Cleveland Browns. Without Warner, the "Ground Chuck" offense became "Air Knox". Led by QB Dave Krieg, the Seahawks enjoyed a then franchise record 8 game winning streak and a 12-4 record. The Seahawk defense posts 3 shutouts. One of the shutouts occurred on November 4th where they beat the Chiefs 45-0 in a game highlighted by 4 touchdowns off interception returns (still an NFL record). A season ending 2 game losing streak cost them the division title and forced a wild card game against the Raiders. The Seahawks rode running back Dan Doornink and prevailed 13-7 in the team's last playoff victory for 21 years. The Hawks fell to the Super Bowl bound Miami Dolphins31-10 in the divisional playoffs. Chuck Knox was named coach of the year a second year in a row.
The 1985 season was one of the most frustrating in the team's history. The team was consistently inconsistent, winning 2 games in a row and then losing 2 games in a row throughout the season. Seahawks Quarterback Dave Krieg passes for 3,602 yards on the season. A final game loss at home to Denver proved to be a microcosm of the season, as the Seahawks squandered an early lead and then had a potentially game-tying field goal attempt hit the upright as time expired.
The 1986 season is generally considered one of the "ones that got away". A 5-2 start was ruined by a 4-game losing streak. Improbably, the team then went on a roll that saw them win their final 5 games in convincing fashion. Included in the run were a 31-14 road victory over the
Dallas Cowboyson Thanksgiving, a 37-0 shutout of the Oakland Raiderson Monday Night Footballand a season ending 41-16 victory over the Super Bowl bound Denver Broncos. Despite a 10-6 record, the Seahawks failed to qualify for the playoffs due to a tiebreaker. They were the only team to beat both Super Bowl teams (Denver and the New York Giants) in 1986.
1987 began with great expectations and predictions of a Super Bowl berth. The Seahawks had won a lottery for the first pick in a supplemental draft, and they selected
Brian Bosworth, the 1985 and 1986 Dick Butkus award winner. The 1987 team, like Bosworth, never did live up to expectations. After an early-season 24-day labor dispute, the team qualified for the playoffs as a wild card with a 9-6 record. A 23-20 overtime loss to the Houston Oilersin the playoffs was marred by a controversial call nullifying an apparent Fredd Young interception deep in Oilers territory in the sudden-death period.
In 1988, the team won its first AFC West division title, beating the Los Angeles Raiders 43-37 on the road to finish with a 9-7 record. The Seahawks lost 21-13 in the divisional playoffs to the Super Bowl bound
Cincinnati Bengals. Also in 1988 Ken Behringpurchased the club from the original owners, the Nordstrom Family. A year later he would name former Los Angeles Raiders head coach Tom Floresteam president and general manager.
The lost years (1992-1998)
These years would prove to be the most tumultuous of the franchise's history so far. 1991 would be Chuck Knox's last year as head coach of the Seahawks. After finishing with a 7-9 record, he resigned to rejoin the Los Angeles Rams.
Tom Floresassumed the head coaching duties for the 1992 season. Longtime quarterback Dave Kriegwas ousted in 1992 and replaced by three different quarterbacks (first-round pick Dan McGwire, Stan Gelbaughand Kelly Stouffer). 1992 would also prove to be the Seahawks' worst year ever when they finished 2-14. The Seattle offense proved to be historically inept, and the only bright spot for the 1992 season was defensive tackle Cortez Kennedybeing declared NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In 1993, the Seahawks drafted
Rick Mirerout of the University of Notre Damewith the second pick in the draft, in hopes that he would be able to be the franchise's quarterback of the future. Mirer looked to be on his way to stardom as he shared the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year Award with former college teammate Jerome Bettisin his first season. The honeymoon soon turned sour as his inconsistent play in the following three seasons led to several benchings and eventually his departure in a trade to the Chicago Bearsfollowing the 1996 season.
In 1994, the Seahawks moved to nearby
Husky Stadiumon the campus of the University of Washington for the preseason and 3 regular season games after an acoustic tile fell inside the Kingdome. Upon returning to the Kingdome, the team finished with a 6-10 record; Tom Flores was replaced as president by David Behring, son of owner Ken Behring, and as head coach by University of Miamicoach Dennis Erickson.
In January 1996, Seahawks owner
Ken Behringannounced that he was moving the franchise to Los Angeles, where the team would play at Anaheim Stadium. Behring claimed safety concerns (specifically the building's structural integrity in the event of an earthquake) as his reason for breaking the team's lease with King County. However, seismologists found Behring's claims to be unproven. Also, the Los Angeles area is even more earthquake-prone than Seattle. Although Behring moved the team's operations to Anaheim, his plans for a full move were scuttled when lawyers discovered that the Seahawks were locked into the Kingdome through 2005. Having seen his effort to permanently relocate the franchise thwarted, Behring decided to sell. A potential buyer was found in Microsoftco-founder Paul Allenwho reached an agreement to buy the club but only if a new stadium would be built. After funding a special state-wide election for stadium financing, a new stadium for the Seahawks was passed and Allen purchased the team.
Under the new ownership,
Bob Whitsittwas installed as president of the club and big-name players such as Chad Brown, Warren Moon, and Ricky Watterswere brought in raising hopes in Seattle that a page had been turned. What followed was more mediocrity as the club in 1997 and 1998 failed to get over the .500 mark with consecutive 8-8 marks. This led to head coach Dennis Ericksonultimately being fired at the end of the 1998 season. This period was not without its memorable moments, specifically Vinny Testaverde's "Phantom Touchdown" in a regular season game, a legendary officiating error that became a primary factor in the NFL's reinstatement of instant replay. The officiating error resulted in a 32-31 loss to the New York Jets.
The NFL officially apologized for the officiating error. Instant replay would be reinstated in the NFL the following season. Referee
Phil Luckett, who made the touchdown call, was later reassigned at his request to back judge, and is also infamous for another controversial issue during the Thanksgiving game, November 26 involving the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions.
The Mike Holmgren Era (1999-Present)
In 1999, the Seahawks made their biggest coaching hire with the appointment of Green Bay Packer head coach
Mike Holmgren. Coming off his success with the Green Bay Packers, Holmgren was given the dual role of General Manager and Head Coach. The hiring brought instant credibility to the franchise as under Holmgren's guidance, the Seahawks won their second division title and first playoff berth since 1988. That year included a memorable 24-7 win over Holmgren's former team, the Green Bay Packerson " Monday Night Football" but despite a strong 8-2 start, the Seahawks lost 5 of their last 6 to close out the regular season. This skid continued on into the playoffs as the Seahawks lost the final game in the Kingdome 20-17 to Dan Marinoand the Miami Dolphinsin the AFC Wild Card round; the game proved to be Marino's only career road playoff win. For the 2000-2001 seasons the Seahawks moved to Husky Stadium while their new stadium was being built. The Seahawks drafted RB Shaun Alexanderin 2000 draft as their RB of the future. The move to Husky Stadium could not halt the Seahawks' decline, as they finished a disappointing 6-10.
Holmgren then traded for Green Bay Packers backup QB
Matt Hasselbeckand made him the starting QB. But Hasselbeck struggled in the first half of the season compiling a 5-7 record. Hasselbeck was replaced by former Super Bowl winner Trent Dilferwho steadied the ship and led the Seahawks to a 9-7 finish and a narrow playoff miss in the team's final season in the AFC.
2002: Move to the NFC
Big changes were afoot in 2002. When the Seahawks left Husky Stadium at the end of the 2001 season they were part of the
AFC West, but when they moved into Seahawks Stadium they were now part of the NFC West. This was because 2002 divisional realignment caused by the addition of the expansion team, the Houston Texans, and to keep traditional divisional rivalries, such as Dallas-Washington despite the Cowboys being further west than St. Louis. The year would prove to be one of ups-and-downs as Dilfer was injured in Week 7 and Hasselbeck became the starting QB. He would end the season on a 3 game winning streak, and Shaun Alexander led the NFC with 18 touchdowns. But the team finished with a 7-9 record and rumblings began over whether Holmgren was up to having dual roles as de facto General Manager and head coach.
Before the 2003 season, Holmgren relinquished his general manager duties so that he could concentrate exclusively on coaching the team. This move was especially hard for Holmgren as one of the factors for him leaving Green Bay was to step out of the shadow of long-time Packer-GM
Ron Wolf. With their head coach focused solely on the coaching side, the Seahawks made the playoffs as a wild card with a 10-6 record and finished with an impressive 8-0 mark at home. The Seahawks would face Holmgren's former team, the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Seahawks came out strong but blew several opportunities (including a crucial endzone drop by receiver Koren Robinson) and were forced to go to overtime. It was during the coin-flip where quarterback Hasselbeck made the prediction "we want the ball, and we're going to score." Unfortunately for Seattle, an Al Harrisinterception returned for a TD sealed the Seahawks fate and they were out of the playoffs again.
The Seahawks entered the 2004 season with lofty expectations. Publications such as "
Sports Illustrated" predicted that the team would represent the NFC in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Seahawks started off strongly, going 3-0 including a 34-0 shutout of the lowly San Francisco 49ers at home. The season would take a dramatic turn for the worse, however, when the Seahawks blew a 27-10 lead late in the fourth quarter to their division-rivals, the St. Louis Rams. Trailing 27-10 late in the fourth quarter, the Rams scored to pull within ten with 5:34 remaining on the clock. This was followed by a 41 yard TD pass to Kevin Curtis, making the score 27-24. After the Seahawks failed to convert on a critical third down, leaving 1:14 on the game clock, the Rams tied the game on the ensuing possession, sending the game into overtime. In the extra period, the Rams won the game on a stunning 52-yard touchdown catch by Shaun McDonald. The Seahawks never fully recovered from the shocking loss and went on to win only six of their last twelve games.
The Seahawks had another memorable fourth quarter meltdown against the Cowboys on Monday night football. As Seattle led 39-28 late in the fourth quarter, Testaverde completed a touchdown pass to
Keyshawn Johnson, leaving 1:45 on the game clock. Jason Wittenrecovered the ensuing onside kick, and Julius Jones was heavily featured in the Cowboys' 57 yard drive to win the game. Jones finished with a game-high 198 rushing yards for the night.
The Seahawks would win their first NFC West title with a 28-26 win over the
Atlanta Falconsin the final regular season game. The team's celebrations were overshadowed by bickering between Holmgren and RB Shaun Alexander, stemming from Holmgren's decision to bench Alexander for precautionary reasons midway through the team's final game of the season. Alexander would miss the 2004-2005 rushing title by a single yard, with the honor instead going to New York JetsRB Curtis Martin. The Seahawks ended their 2004 season by losing to the Rams 27-20 in the NFC Wild Card game in Seattle, the first playoff game at Qwest Field. The Seahawks lost all three games against divisional rival St. Louis in the 2004 season
The 2005 season saw them advance to the
Super Bowlfor the first time in the team's history. They were the NFC representative in Super Bowl XL, a game they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seahawks compiled a 13-3 record in the regular season, easily winning the NFC Westand clinching home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. There, they beat the Washington Redskinsand Carolina Panthersto win the George Halas Trophyand advance to the Super Bowl, the first in franchise history.
uper Bowl XL
Seattle fell short in its bid for its first NFL title, losing to the
Pittsburgh Steelersat Super Bowl XLin Detroit, Michiganon February 5 2006by a score of 21-10. Although the Seahawks outgained the Steelers, 396 yards to 339, Pittsburgh won on the strength of three big plays converted for touchdowns, including the longest run in Super Bowl history. Seattle, on the other hand, was plagued by highly questionable penalties, dropped passes, and an interception precipitated by the poor officiating during a drive deep into Pittsburgh territory. [cite web | title = Seattle Post Intelligencer Article | url=http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/football/258407_mvp06.html | accessdate = 6 February | accessyear = 2006]
The controversial penalty calls made during Super Bowl XL were met with criticism from both fans and members of the media, many of whom suggested that the officials had wrongly nullified several key plays made by the Seattle offense.
Jason Whitlockencapsulated the views of a few when he wrote the day after the game, "Leavy and his crew ruined Super Bowl XL. Am I the only one who would like to hear them defend their incompetence?" [cite web | title = Kansas City Star Article | url=http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/13801320.htm | accessdate = 6 February | accessyear = 2006] In response to the criticisms, NFL spokesman Greg Aiellosaid in a statement, "The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls made by the officials." [cite web | title = Seattle Post Intelligencer Article | url=http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/football/258739_nfln08.html | accessdate = 8 February | accessyear = 2006] The game ended a playoff season that was plagued by complaints about officiating. [cite web | title = Fox Sports Article | url =http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5338016 | accessdate = 23 February | accessyear = 2006]
Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren fueled the debate upon returning to Seattle, saying during a Seahawks rally, "We knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well." [cite web | title = Seattle Post Intelligencer Article | url=http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/football/258739_nfln08.html | accessdate = 8 February | accessyear = 2006]
Al Michaels, commented during a Sunday Night Football game a few months later, "The fact that Holmgren was not fined for that statement speaks volumes to me." Michaels explained he was alluding to Holmgren's need to "win the hearts and minds", but also suggested a perceived admission by the NFL that something went wrong in that game. [cite web | title = Fox Sports Blog | url=http://community.foxsports.com/blogs/pacmantab | accessdate = 21 August | accessyear = 2006]
The Seahawks repeated as NFC West champs with a 9-7 record; their season included a 34-24 pounding of the
Green Bay Packerson Monday Night Footballand a pair of two-point wins over the St. Louis Rams. The Seahawks hosted the Dallas Cowboysin the NFC Wildcard Playoffs; trailing 20-13 the Seahawks pounced on a botched Tony Romothrow to Terry Glennin Dallas' endzone for a safety, then scored on a 37-yard Hasselback touchdown. The Cowboys drove downfield but on the ensuing field goal attempt Romo (the holder) blew the snap and was stopped in his rush to the endzone. A desperate last-second Romo throw was batted down and the Seahawks won 21-20. The Seahawks would fall 27-24 in overtime to the Chicago Bearsin the Divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
Seattle Seahawksfinished the regular season with a 10-6 record, winning their fourth consecutive, NFC Westtitle, and defeated the Washington Redskins35-14 in the first round of the playoffs, to advance to an NFC Divisional Round Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, where they were defeated 42-20.
The Seattle Seahawks made little noise in free agency, although they did address their need for change at
running back, by cutting oft-injured former league MVP Shaun Alexanderand signing both speedster Julius Jonesfrom the Dallas Cowboysand the more powerful T.J. Duckettfrom the Detroit Lions. They're expected to play in a three-headed backfield with incumbent backup Maurice Morris, who has been with the team since 2002. The Seahawks also re-signed franchise-tagged cornerbackand local star Marcus Trufant(who graduated from Wilson High School in Tacoma, WA and Washington State Universityin Pullman, WA) to a 6 year, $50 million contract following his 7 interception pro bowlcampaign in 2007. The Seahawks were not, however, able to re-sign fan favorite kicker Josh Brown, who hit 6 last minute game winning field goals in his 5 year Seahawks career (including 4 game winners during 2006, an NFL single season record), as they were unable to match the 5 year, $14 million deal he received from the St. Louis Rams, a record amongst kickers. 11-year veteran Olindo Mareand Rookie Brandon Coutuare competing to replace him.
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