The MVP of the MVPs

The Steve Largent legacy just keeps on growing, despite the fact that it was 21 seasons ago that he caught his final pass for the Seahawks.

Even when you’re not really looking for something to further justify his Hall of Fame career, there it is: Just another nugget that does exactly that.

The latest is Largent being the MVP of the MVPs in franchise history. The award was voted on by the players from 1976, the team’s inaugural season; through 1998. The first winner was quarterback Jim Zorn. The last was linebacker Chad Brown.

In between, however, it was difficult to wrest the award from the sure-handed wide receiver who retired after the 1989 season as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089) and touchdown catches (100).

In an 11-season span from 1977-87, Largent was voted the team MVP five times (1977, 1979, 1981, 1985 and 1987). There are seven other multiple winners, but each won the award twice – including running back Chris Warren, the only player to win it in back-to-back seasons (1994-95).

Like most of Largent’s team records, the gap between him and the player or players sitting at No. 2 equates to the distance between Seattle and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“The thing I’ll remember about Steve Largent is that I had the experience of coaching one of the all-time great professional football players,” Chuck Knox, who was Largent’s coach from 1983-89, said the week of Largent’s final game. “He has made more plays, does more things over and over again, than most people.”

The MVP award was sponsored by the Marcus Nalley company, and here’s the list of players who proved to be chips off the ol’ Largent:

Player, wins (years)

WR Steve Largent: 5 (1977, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1987)

QB Jim Zorn: 2 (1976, 1978)

SS Kenny Easley: 2 (1982, 1984)

RB Curt Warner: 2 (1983, 1986)

FB John L. Williams: 2 (1988, 1990)

FS Eugene Robinson: 2 (1991, 1993)

DT Cortez Kennedy: 2 (1992, 1996)

RB Chris Warren: 2 (1994, 1995)

WR Sam McCullum: 1 (1980)

WR Brian Blades: 1 (1989)

FS Darryl Williams: 1 (1997)

LB Chad Brown: 1 (1998)


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Sweet seasons

The most-successful season in franchise history? Easy, it was 2005. The Seahawks won a best-ever 13 games, including a club record 11 in a row; won the only conference championship in the team’s first 35 seasons; and played in the Super Bowl for the first time.

But the best individual season in franchise history? Just as easy? The obvious choice is what Shaun Alexander did in ’05, when he became the only Seahawk ever voted league MVP while scoring a then-NFL record 28 touchdowns and rushing for a league-leading and club-record 1,880 yards.

But was it really the best single-season effort in the team’s first 35 seasons? Here are 10 others to ponder, in chronological order:

Kenny Easley in 1984 – The Pro Bowl and All-Pro strong safety was voted NFL defensive player of the year, as he intercepted an AFC-leading 10 passes and returned two for touchdowns. He also volunteered to return punts and averaged 12.1 yards.

Steve Largent in 1984 – It was difficult to select a single season for the Hall of Fame wide receiver. He did, after all, lead the team in receiving for 12 consecutive seasons (1976-87). But in ’84, when he was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl, Largent had 74 receptions for 1,164 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. He had seasons with more receptions (79 in 1985; 75 in 1981; and 74 in 1984). He had seasons with more yards (a club-record 1,287 in ’85; 1,237 in 1979; and 1,224 in 1981). But the 12 TD catches in ’84 were a career-high, and the reception and yardage totals in the team’s 12-4 season were close enough. Others also had more receptions (94 by Bobby Engram in 2007; 87 by Darrell Jackson in 2004; and 81 and 80 by Brian Blades in 1994 and 1993). But they didn’t have the yardage and TD totals to match Largent’s ’84 season.

Fredd Young in 1985 – This was the crossroads season in his four-year stay with the club, as Young the linebacker led the team in tackles (the first of three seasons in a row) and Young the coverage man was voted to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player (for the second consecutive season).

Cortez Kennedy in 1992 – On a team that went 2-14, Kennedy was the NFL defensive player of the year. In addition to producing a career-high and team-leading 14 sacks, the Pro Bowl and All-Pro defensive tackle also had a career-high 93 tackles – and many of them had to be seen to be believed.

Eugene Robinson in 1993 – The Pro Bowl and All-Pro free safety led the team in tackles (111) and interceptions (nine). He also did it in 1992 (94 and seven), but not with the totals he put up in ’93.

Joey Galloway in 1998 – In his final full season with the Seahawks, Galloway used his speed and explosiveness to lead the team in receptions (65 for a 16.1-yard average and 10 TDs) and also averaged 10.0 yards returning punts with two more scores.

Ricky Watters in 2000 – While he never came close to rushing for the numbers Alexander compiled in 2005, Watters led the team in rushing (1,242 yards) in 2000 and also shared the lead in receptions (63, the fourth-highest total by a running back in club history). Fullback John L. Williams also led the team in rushing (once) and receiving (three times), but never in the same season.

Josh Brown in 2004 – The clutch-kicking Brown was almost perfect in 2004, when he made each of his 40 PATs and 23 of 25 field-goal attempts, including 16 in a row to tie the then-club record. Olindo Mare in 2009, when he was 28-of-28 and 24-of-26 and also began a consecutive field-goal streak that would reach 30 games in 2010? Brown got the nod on points scored, 109-100.

Walter Jones in 2006 — It’s just so diffucult to find stats that describe just how dominant the All-Pro and Pro Bowl left tackle was. But in ’06, The Sportings News ranked Jones not as the best blocker in the NFL but the best player. Period. Here’s what they had to say: “Walter Jones may not be the most exciting player in the NFL — he’s an offensive tackle, for cryin’ out loud — but he is the most efficient. Instead of making big plays, he prevents them. Over and over and over, with the consistency of a fine timepiece. The Seahawks’ left tackle makes domination so routine, he barely is noticed. But we are not taking Jones for granted. On our list of the 101 best players in the NFL, he’s No. 1.”

Matt Hasselbeck in 2007 – It was the last time he started 16 games, and Hasselbeck made the most of it by setting club records for completions (352) and passing yards (3,966) and also throwing a career-high 28 TD passes. Dave Krieg had a club-record 32 TD passes and 3,671 yards in 1984, but he threw 24 interceptions – compared to 12 for Hasselbeck in ’07.

So whose season was the best season? You make the call.


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Tackling trios

The Seahawks have had three or more players collect at least 100 tackles in the same season seven times in their first 35 years.

But it has happened only once since the 1996 season that we examined in the eighth installment of our series of seasonal recaps. That was in 2001, when the linebacking trio of Anthony Simmons (123), Chad Brown (106) and Levon Kirkland (101) turned the trick.

Since then, the only time the Seahawks have had two players do it in the same season was in 2009 – when linebacker David Hawthorne (116) and safety Jordan Babineaux (106) each did it for the first time in their careers.

Here’s a look at the other triple-digit tackling trios in franchise history, as well as the two seasons when five players each produced at least 100 tackles:

1976: Free safety Dave Brown (111), linebacker Mike Curtis (107), middle linebacker Ed Bradley (101).

1978: Middle linebacker Terry Beeson (club-record 153), linebacker Keith Butler (122), linebacker Sammy Green (115), cornerback Cornell Webster (113), free safety John Harris (113).

1980: Linebacker Michael Jackson (136), Harris (119), strong safety Keith Simpson (110), defensive tackle Robert Hardy (103), Beeson (101).

1981: Jackson (141), strong safety Kenny Easley (107), Butler (100).

1993: Free safety Eugene Robinson (111), linebacker Terry Wooden (106), middle linebacker Rod Stephens (105).

1996: Middle linebacker Dean Wells (107), linebacker Winston Moss (106), strong safety Robert Blackmon (102).

2001: Simmons, Brown, Kirkland.

And, speaking of tackles and trios, five players have led the Seahawks in tackles for at least three consecutive seasons: Beeson (1977-79), Jackson (1980-82), Fredd Young (1985-87), Chad Brown (1997-99) and Lofa Tatupu (2005-08).

Robinson also did it four times, but not consecutively (1988-89, 1992-93); while Simmons did it three times, but not in a row (2000-01, 2003).


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Three-feats

Last week’s item about Eugene Robinson’s rare Triple Crown in 1993 – when he became the only player in franchise history to be voted team MVP, Man of the Year and the Steve Largent Award in the same season – set off a search for other historic “threes” in Seahawks history.

In chronological order, here are five three-feats that are triple impressive:

Terry Beeson – The middle linebacker led the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons (1977-79), including a single-season club-record 153 in 1978. Beeson had 401 tackles in that three-season stretch, which included a 14-game season in 1977.

Brian Blades – In leading the team in receptions during one three-season span (1993-95), he had 238 of his 581 career receptions – second on the team’s all-time list behind Steve Largent (819). Blades turned in the most-productive three-season run in franchise history by catching 80 passes in 1980, 81 in 1994 and 77 in 1995.

Shawn Alexander – It took only three seasons (2003-05) for the team’s all-time leading rusher to compile 5,011 of his club-record 9,429 yards. And each season was better than the previous, as Alexander had 1,435 yards in 2003, a conference-leading 1,696 in 2004 and a league-leading and club-record 1,880 in 2005.

Lofa Tatupu – The middle linebacker went to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons after being selected in the second round of the 2005 draft. Tatupu also led the team in tackles in each of those three seasons (2005-07), totaling 337. Julian Peterson is the only other linebacker in club history to go to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons (2006-08).

Leon Washington – He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season, his first with the team after being obtained in a draft-day trade with the New York Jets. Washington had 101- and 99-yarders in a Week 3 win over the Chargers and a 92-yarder in a Week 14 loss at San Francisco. The previous club record for TD returns in a career was one.

Which three-feat ranks as the best? You make the call.


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A one-of-a-kind Triple Crown

Triple Crown winners in horse racing are rare. It has happened only 11 times since 1919, and the last winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont was Affirmed in 1978.

But Eugene Robinson pulled an even rarer “triple crown” in 1993, when the Seahawks’ free safety was voted team MVP, Man of the Year and the Steve Largent Award.

Robinson led the team in tackles (111) and interceptions (nine) in ’93, when he also was voted defensive captain before the season and to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro after the season.

No other player in the team’s 35-year history has turned that award-winning triple play.

The window of opportunity was slim, however, as the Largent Award was not presented until 1989 – when Largent was the first recipient in his final season with the team; and the MVP award was discontinued after the 1998 season – with linebacker Chad Brown the last to win it.

During that 10-year span, four players won two of the awards: defensive end Jacob Green, Man of the Year and Largent Award in 1990; Robinson, MVP and Man of the Year in 1991; wide receiver Brian Blades, Man of the Year and Largent Award in 1994; and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, MVP and Largent Award in 1996.

Pre-Largent Award, no player won MVP and Man of the Year in the same season (Man of the Year was not awarded from 1977-79).

But post-MVP, three players have won Man of the Year and the Largent Award in the same season: fullback Mack Strong (2004), wide receiver Bobby Engram (2007) and special teams captain Roy Lewis (2010).


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Robinson impressed, and impressive

Eugene Robinson knew he had been voted to the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.

That’s because I told him in December, when Robinson was here for the Carolina Panthers’ game at Qwest Field, that the readers of Seahawks.com had selected him as the free safety on the best-of-the-best defensive unit. But Robinson, the radio analyst for Panthers games, had not known who the other defenders were until we talked this week.

Joining him in the secondary are contemporaries Kenny Easley at strong safety and Dave Brown at cornerback, as well as post-Robinson corners Marcus Trufant and Shawn Springs. Because Robinson’s career spanned 11 seasons and three head coaches (Chuck Knox, Tom Flores and Dennis Erickson) he also played with six other defenders on the 35th Anniversary team: Jacob Green, Joe Nash, Cortez Kennedy and Michael Sinclair, who comprise the line; as well as linebackers Fredd Young and Rufus Porter. Linebackers Chad Brown and Lofa Tatupu arrived after Robinson had left. 

As he listened to that list of names, Robinson responded to most with a “Wow” or two, and even offered “Oh, really” a couple of times.

But his bottom-line assessment said it all: “Wow, that is a really, really impressive group.”

That is it, and Robinson’s story – available here as the seventh in a series of features profiling the 29 players voted to the team – is one of the more impressive.


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