Our recap of the Seahawks’ 1997 season focused on the arrivals that changed the course of the franchise – starting with owner Paul Allen, but also including free-agent addition Chad Brown and draft choices Walter Jones and Shawn Springs.
All three players were voted to the 35th Anniversary team, making ’97 one of eight years when more than one member of the reader-selected team joined the Seahawks.
But which “class” is the class of the 35th Anniversary team? Check out their credentials and then vote for your favorite:
1976 – Steve Largent and Dave Brown. These two were there at the start. Largent arrived in an Aug. 26 trade with the Houston Oilers and went on to set franchise records – and, at the time he retired after the 1989 season, NFL records – for receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089) and TD catches (100). Brown was obtained in the March 30 veteran allocation draft and became the club’s all-time leader in interceptions (50) and interception returns for touchdowns (five).
1982 – Joe Nash and Norm Johnson. Each arrived after the NFL draft, as a rookie free agent. Each performed like a first-round draft choice. In 15 seasons, Nash played in more games than anyone in franchise history (218). He also shares the all-time lead in blocked field goals (eight), ranks third in tackles (779) and sixth in sacks (47½). Johnson holds the club record for points scored (810), field goals (159) and PATs (333).
1984 – Bryan Millard and Fredd Young. Millard came to the Seahawks after playing two seasons in the old USFL, while Young was a third-round draft choice and went to the Pro Bowl twice as a linebacker and twice as a special teams performer. Millard started 99 games and was the best lineman in franchise history until Jones was selected in the first-round of the 1997 draft. Young led the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons (1985-87).
1988 – Brian Blades and Rufus Porter. Blades was the team’s top choice, selected in the second round. Porter was a free-agent addition, and a late one at that. Blades ranks second to Largent in receptions (581) and receiving yards (7,620), and he’s No. 5 in TD catches (34). He caught 80 and 81 passes in 1993 and ’94, the most productive two-season stretch in franchise history. Porter is the only player voted to two spots on the 35th Anniversary team – linebacker and special teams player. He ranks No. 7 in sacks (37½), including a club-leading 10 in 1991; and led the team in special teams tackles in back-to-back seasons (1988-89).
1991 – Michael Sinclair and Rick Tuten. Sinclair was a sixth-round draft choice, while Tuten was signed on Oct. 9 – the third punter used by the Seahawks that season. Sinclair ranks second on the club’s all-time list in sacks (73½), including a league-leading 16½ in 1998. He also led the team in sacks three other times. Tuten, who punted a league-high 108 times in 1992, is the club’s all-time leader in punts (554), yards (24,266) and punts inside the 20 (147).
1997 – Chad Brown, Shawn Springs and Walter Jones. Brown was the team’s big free-agent addition, while Springs and Jones were acquired with the third and sixth picks in the draft. Brown led the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons (1997-99). He ranks No. 3 in fumble recoveries (13), No. 4 in tackles (744) and No. 5 in sacks (48). Springs is tied for fifth in interceptions (20), and returned two for touchdowns. Jones was voted to a franchise-high nine Pro Bowls and ranks second to Largent (197) in games started (180).
2000 – Robbie Tobeck and Shaun Alexander. Tobeck was signed in free agency, after playing his first six NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Alexander was selected in the first round of the draft. From his center position, Tobeck anchored the line that helped Alexander become the franchise’s all-time leader in rushing yards (9,429) and touchdowns (100). Their best season came in 2005, when Alexander was voted the league MVP after leading the NFL in rushing and scoring a then-NFL record 28 TDs; and Tobeck was voted to the only Pro Bowl of his career.
2001 – Matt Hasselbeck, Steve Hutchinson and Bobby Engram. Hasselbeck was acquired in a March trade with the Green Bay Packers. Hutchinson was a first-round pick in the April draft. Engram was signed in September, after being released by the Chicago Bears. The Seahawks never would have made it to the Super Bowl in 2005 without these three – as Hasselbeck passed for 3,459 yards and 24 TDs; Hutchinson joined Jones to form the most formidable side of any line in football; and Engram led the team with 67 receptions. Hasselbeck has become the franchise leader in career completions (2,572) and passing yards (29,579) and ranks second in TD passes (176). Hutchinson was voted to three consecutive Pro Bowls (2003-05). Engram also set a franchise record with 94 receptions in 2007.
Impressive stuff. But which “class” was the most impressive? You make the call …