As he has moved through the nomination process for probable induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former Seahawks tackle Walter Jones has frequently been identified as “the greatest player in franchise history.” Certainly Jones’ portfolio is heftier than any other player to wear Seattle togs: Nine Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro selections.
Plus, Jones is considered a lock to achieve Hall of Fame entry when the Class of 2014 is announced Saturday, the day before Super Bowl XLVIII. That would make Jones a first-ballot enshrinee, and he would join WR Steve Largent (1976-89) as the only players in franchise history to achieve that distinction.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Jones, or even Largent, is the greatest player in team annals. If their length of service – 200 games for Largent, 180 for Jones – is added to their achievements, they probably rank 1-2.
But strong safety Kenny Easley (1981-87) would certainly have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer had not kidney issues derailed his career. He had that kind of ability.
Marshawn Lynch will probably find himself on a list similar to the one below someday. Maybe Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman as well. For now, we’ll confine the list of the 10 greatest Seahawks, listed alphabetically, to players who have finished their run with the franchise.
Shaun Alexander, RB (2000-07): Ran for more than 1,000 yards five times in his career and scored 100 touchdowns, tied for the seventh-highest total in NFL history. No NFL back had a three-year burst better than Alexander’s from 2003-05, when he ran for 3,481 yards and scored 77 TDs. Alexander is Seattle’s all-time leading rusher (9,453 yards) by a long shot and its only league MVP (2005).
Kenny Easley, SS (1981-87): If his career hadn’t ended prematurely, Easley would be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He earned Pro Bowl invitations five times in seven years and was the 1984 Defensive Player of the Year, the first safety so honored. Easley finished his career with 32 interceptions, fourth on the Seahawks career list.
Jacob Green, DE (1980-91): A two-time Pro Bowler (1986-87), Green made 176 starts for the Seahawks and still ranks – statistically – as the greatest pass rusher in franchise history. He recorded 116.0 sacks, 42.5 more than the next-highest total, Michael Sinclair’s 73.5. On Oct. 19, 1986, Green became the first Seahawk with 4.0 sacks in a game (N.Y. Giants).
Matt Hasselbeck, QB (2001-10): Acquired in a trade with Green Bay, Hasselbeck is the franchise leader in passing attempts (4,250), completions (2,559), yards (29,434) and second in touchdown passes (174). He represented Seattle in three Pro Bowls (2003, 2005, 2007) and twice recorded passer ratings above 90.0 (2005, 2007).
Steve Hutchinson, LG (2001-05): Selected by the Seahawks in the 2001 NFL Draft, Hutchinson made four Pro Bowl teams before his controversial exit to the Minnesota Vikings just weeks after the 2006 Super Bowl. With Walter Jones, Hutchinson formed the best, left-side run-blocking tandem in Seattle history.
Walter Jones, LT (1997-09): A finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame lass of 2014, Jones anchored Seattle’s offensive line with distinction for 12 years. He earned a team-record nine Pro Bowl invitations and made first-team All-Pro four times.
Cortez Kennedy, DT (1990-00): A Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 2012, Kennedy earned eight Pro Bowl appearances during his Seahawks career, notching his best season in 1992 when, on a 2-14 team, he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Dave Krieg, QB (1980-91): He played 12 years with the Seahawks, becoming synonymous with the franchise from the early 1980s through the early 1990s. “Mudbone” made three Pro Bowls, led the Seahawks to the 1984 AFC Championship game and threw 196 touchdown passes, the franchise record.
Steve Largent, WR (1976-89): When Largent retired following the 1989 season, he did so as a “Triple Crown” winner, the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Those marks have since been eclipsed, but Largent remains the ultimate Seahawk, the first player inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor (1989) and the first elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1995.).
Joe Nash, DT (1982-96): Nash lined up at nose tackle and defensive tackle for Seahawks for the entirety of his 15 seasons in the NFL. He made only one Pro Bowl, but he holds a record not likely to be surpassed. He played in 218 games for the Seahawks, most in franchise history.