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On his terms

One of the best things about Robbie Tobeck’s 14-year NFL career is the way it ended: On his terms.

The veteran center not only knew it was time to walk away; he was prepared to step into the next phase of his life. Tobeck, who played his final seven seasons with the Seahawks (2000-06), is a partner in Griffin MacLean Insurance, hosting a Saturday morning fishing show on 710 ESPN and enjoying watching his sons play the sport that was such a large part of his life for so long.

“I knew I was done. I knew it was time,” said Tobeck, who has lost 40 pounds. “I worked at Griffin MacLean in the offseason when I played. After I announced my retirement (following the 2006 playoff loss to the Bears in Chicago), I went to Costa Rica and fished for 10 days. Then I came back and I was in the office that Monday.

“That was the transition for me. It was just boom-boom and here I was.”  

Tobeck is one of nine players voted to the 35th Anniversary team who was not on the 25th Anniversary unit – most of obvious reasons. His story is the latest profile of the players the readers of Seahawks.com voted to the 35th Anniversary team.

Here’s a what-a-difference-10-years-can-make look at the changes from the 25th Anniversary team that was selected by the Seattle P-I in 2000, starting with Tobeck:

Center: Tobeck over Blair Bush. Tobeck didn’t join the Seahawks until 2000. He is the only center in team history to play in the Pro Bowl (2005) and was the anchor in the middle of the line on the 2003-06 teams that won three consecutive NFC West titles and advanced to the playoffs four years in a row.

Guard: Steve Hutchinson over Edwin Bailey. Hutchinson was not drafted until 2001 and played only five seasons, making 68 starts – compared to 11 seasons and 120 starts for Bailey. But Hutchinson was voted to three Pro Bowls, and is the only guard in team history to play in the Pro Bowl.

Tackle: Howard Ballard over Mike Wilson. Ballard was a Plan B free agent addition in 1994 and started 74 games in five seasons. Wilson started 60 games in four seasons (1986-89), but on better teams. Ballard was not the same player who had been a mainstay on the Buffalo Bills’ Super Bowl teams from 1990-93, but he got 982 votes in finishing second to Walter Jones (4,065) among the tackles – while Wilson got only 46 votes to finish tied for ninth in the 11-tackle field.

 

Tight end: John Carlson over Mike Tice. Carlson was a second-round draft choice in 2008 and became the first rookie to lead the team in receptions since Steve Largent in 1976. Still, the voting at this spot was the tightest on the 35th Anniversary team – 1,898 for Carlson to 1,880 for Tice, who started 83 games from 1981-88 and in 1990-91.

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck over Dave Krieg. Hasselbeck was obtained in a 2001 trade with the Green Bay Packers, and has since broken Krieg’s club records for career attempts, completions and passing yards. Hasselbeck has been voted to three Pro Bowls. Krieg also went to the Pro Bowl three times, and had a 70-49 record as a starter (.588 winning percentage) – compared to 69-62 (.527) for Hasselbeck.

Running back: Shaun Alexander over Curt Warner. Alexander was a first-round draft choice in 2000, but didn’t become the fulltime starter until 2002. He went on to obliterate the club records for rushing yards (9,429) and rushing touchdowns (100). Alexander also became the first Seahawk to be voted league MVP in 2005, when he led the NFL in rushing and scored a then-league record 28 touchdowns.

Fullback: Mack Strong over John L. Williams. Strong joined the Seahawks in 1993, but Williams was just so productive during his eight-season stay – 4,579 rushing yards, No. 4 in club history; and 471 receptions, No. 3 all-time. Williams went to the Pro Bowl in 1990 and ’91, while Strong went in 2005 and ’06. Strong’s best seasons came after the 25th Anniversary team was selected.

Middle linebacker: Lofa Tatupu over Keith Butler. Tatupu was a second-round draft choice in 2005. While Butler ranks No. 2 all-time with 813 tackles, Tatupu is the only player to lead the team in tackles for four consecutive seasons and he also was voted to three Pro Bowls.

Punt returner: Nate Burleson over Bobby Joe Edmonds. Burleson was signed as a restricted free agent in 2006. He actually volunteered for punt return duties, and ended up as the career leader in returns (125) and yards (1,288) despite being with the team for only four seasons.