Free-agent Madness: Strong vs. Krieg

Free safety Eugene Robinson might be the franchise’s all-time leading tackler, but he could not maneuver his way around fullback Mack Strong to get a shot at QB Dave Krieg in the finals.

The second semifinal was all Strong, in a big way.

Strong, who ranks second in games played (201) to defensive tackle Joe Nash (218), got 79 percent of the votes, or 683. That left Robinson with 21 percent, or 181 votes.

The support for Strong was, well, strong until very end. In the final 2½ hours of balloting this morning, Strong got all but six of the 52 votes cast – or 88 percent.

That setup the title match …

Today: Strong vs. Krieg.

As long as these two played, they never played together. Krieg, who made the team in 1980 as an undrafted free agent out of now-defunct Milton College, left the Seahawks after the 1991 season. Strong, who was signed out of Georgia after the draft in 1993, arrived two years later and spent his first season on the practice squad.

But each left an indelible mark on the franchise. Gone, but obviously not forgotten.

Krieg advanced to the title matchup by dominating defensive back Jordan Babineaux in the first round, when he generated 79 percent of the votes in winning by more than 1,500. He then blew past kicker Norm Johnson in the second round, grabbing 89 percent of the vote.

Strong, meanwhile, was almost as dominant – getting 76 percent of the votes in his opener against Nash and then 79 percent against Robinson.

Their exploits have been well-documented during this exercise to determine the best undrafted free agent in franchise history. But, as we move into the title match, they’re worth repeating.

When Krieg left after the ’91 season, he was the club’s all-time leader in pass attempts, completions, yards and touchdown passes. While Matt Hasselbeck surpassed his marks for attempts, completions and yards last season, Krieg still holds the record for TD passes with 195 – or 33 more than Hasselbeck, whose career-high was 28 in 2007.

Not bad for a QB who made the team because backup QB Steve Myer was injured during the annual training camp scrimmage in 1980. Not bad, at all.

Strong’s career was ended by a neck injury in the fifth game of the 2007 season. But he already had played in those 201 games, and blocked for a trio of 1,000-yard rushers – Chris Warren, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander. In fact, Strong’s teammates began teasing him toward the end of his career that he was two inches shorter than when he arrived because of all the lead blocks he had thrown.

Not bad for a fullback who had to wait until midway through his third season on the roster to become the starter, and then had to win the job back in 2000 after missing time the season before because of an injury. Not bad, at all.

A plucky player turned prolific passer? Or an appropriately named fullback? You make the call.

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