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.

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Free-agent Madness: Robinson vs. Strong

Yesterday: After his dominating showing in the opening round of this exercise to determine the best undrafted free-agent signing in franchise history, one voter suggested Dave Krieg be penciled into the finals.

Well, you can now put the former quarterback’s name in ink – if not etch it in stone.

Krieg, the Seahawks’ all-time leader in completions, passing yards and touchdown passes when he left the team after the 1991 season, smoked kicker Norm Johnson in the their semifinal matchup. Krieg received 89 percent of the votes, or 452. That left Johnson, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, with 11 percent, or 56 votes.

Krieg’s career marks for pass attempts, completions and yards were broken last season by Matt Hasselbeck. But Krieg remains the leader in TD passes with 195 – or 33 more than Hasselbeck.

In the finals, Krieg will face the winner of the other semifinal …

Today: Mack Strong vs. Eugene Robinson.

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Free-agent Madness: Johnson vs. Krieg

Yesterday: Finally, a victory by a defensive player.

In the first three opening-round matchups, quarterback Dave Krieg dispatched defensive back Jordan Babineaux, kicker Norm Johnson ousted linebacker Rufus Porter and fullback Mack Strong advanced over defensive tackle Joe Nash.

But safety Eugene Robinson halted the offensive onslaught in the fourth – and final – opener by defeating quarterback Jon Kitna. Robinson, the franchise’s all-time leading tackler, got 71.7 percent of the votes, or 215. That left Kitna with 28.3 percent, or 85 votes.

Today: Johnson vs. Krieg, in the first semifinal.

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Free-agent Madness: Kitna vs. Robinson

Yesterday: Mack Strong turned in a – what else – strong showing in his matchup against Joe Nash.

The former lead-blocker for a trio of 1,000-yard rusher collected 76 percent of the votes, or 277. That left Nash, who played more games than anyone in franchise history, with 24 percent, or 88 votes.

Strong moves into the semifinals against the winner of the final opening-round matchup …

Today: Jon Kitna vs. Eugene Robinson.

Different eras. Opposite coasts. Opposite sides of the ball. But similar look-what-we-found stories.

Kitna was signed after the 1996 draft. Immediately. As reporters made their way upstairs from the media draft room to the press room in the old Kirkland facility following that draft, Kitna was sitting in the lobby with his wife, Jen, waiting to sign his free-agent contract.

He had been “in the neighborhood,” since Kitna played at Central Washington University and was from Tacoma – Lincoln High School, in fact. And the team didn’t need to “scout” Kitna, because then-coach Dennis Erickson had seen him play a few times for Central. That’s because Erickson’s nephew, Jamie Christian, was the fullback on the same Wildcats’ team.

The first time Erickson went to see his nephew play, he came away more impressed with Kitna – or, “that quarterback,” as he called him. The second time, Erickson referred to Kitna by his number. The third time, Erickson made sure he found out the quarterback’s name.

Kitna spent his first season on the practice squad, but went on to start five games in 1998, 15 in 1999 – when he led the Seahawks to an 8-2 start and they won the AFC West title in their first season under coach Mike Holmgren – and 12 in 2000. In ’99, he passed for 3,346 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Robinson, meanwhile, arrived in 1985 out of Colgate. By ’86, he had moved into the starting lineup at free safety – opposite strong safety Kenny Easley.

Asked about Robinson making the calls in the secondary before the snap, Easley inadvertently dubbed him “Orca.” Orca? As Easley explained it, he couldn’t really understand what Robinson was saying. All he heard was some high-pitched noise – like an Orca.

That was just the beginning of Robinson’s noisy stay with the Seahawks. He would walk the hallways singing – not to himself, but at full choirboy volume. On the Seahawks’ trip to Tokyo for an American Bowl game in the summer of 1990, Robinson bought a saxophone and taught himself how to play it – in his dorm room at Northwest College during training camp.

“I don’t know what he’s doing in there,” one teammate offered, “but it sounds like he’s ringing a chicken’s neck.”

On the field, however, Robinson was almost always in tune. He led the team in interceptions six times – including a league-leading and career-high nine in 1993; and in tackles four times – including a career-best 114 in 1988. He was voted to the Pro Bowl twice and named a defensive captain five times. He won the Steve Largent Award in 1993 and was named the team’s Man of the Year four times for his off-field contributions to the community.

By the time Robinson was traded to the Green Bay in 1996, he was the team’s all-time leading tackler (984) and ranked second in interceptions (42) and seventh in games played (170).

West Coast passer? Or East Coast interceptor? You  make the call.

Tomorrow: Norm Johnson vs. Dave Krieg, in the first semifinal

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Free-agent Madness: Strong vs. Nash

Yesterday: Points won out over sacks, as Norm Johnson kicked Rufus Porter out of the competition.

Johnson, the Seahawks’ all-time leading scorer, collected 57 percent of the votes, or 811. That left Porter, a two-time Pro Bowl player as a special teams performer who also led the team in sacks twice, with 43 percent, or 622 votes.

Johnson’s vote total was one more than his point total.

He now moves into a semifinal matchup against quarterback Dave Krieg.

Today: This one is all about staying power – not to mention durability and productivity.

Defensive tackle Joe Nash played in more games (218) than anyone in franchise history, while fullback Mack Strong is No. 2 on the list (201).

Nash made the roster in 1982 as a free agent out of Boston College. He moved into the starting lineup at nose tackle midway through the 1983 season, and there he stayed for the next seven seasons in the 3-4 front – flanked by the defensive end duo of Jacob Green and Jeff Bryant. Nash was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in 1984, when he had 82 tackles and seven sacks. He produced career-bests in tackles (92) in 1989 and in sacks (nine) in 1985.

In 1992, Nash was back in the lineup at left tackle in a four-man line that also included tackle Cortez Kennedy and Bryant and Tony Woods at end.

Green? Bryant? Kennedy? Woods? All first-round draft choices.

Nash also was a starter from 1993-95. He finally finished his career ranked No. 3 all-time in tackles (779) and No. 6 in sacks (47½), and also blocked a club-record eight field goals – three more than runner-up Craig Terrill. Nash also blocked two PATs.

Speaking of blocks, that was Strong’s strong suit. In fact, toward the end of his career teammates kidding Strong about being two inches shorter than when he arrived in 1993 because of all the lead blocks he threw for a trio of 1,000-yard rushers – Chris Warren, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander.

Strong, however, had to wait his turn. Signed out of Georgia in 1993, Strong spent his rookie season on the practice squad. He then saw spot and part-time starter duty at fullback and excelled on special teams – leading the club with 19 coverage tackles in 1995 – before becoming the full-time starter in 2000.

That’s also when coach Mike Holmgren started feeding Strong what he called “cookies” to reward him for all his dirty work. Strong averaged 23 receptions from 2000-06. He also rushed for a career-high 174 yards in 2003.

Strong was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006, and named All-Pro in 2005. He also won the Steve Largent Award five times in a six-season span (2001-06).

Longevity and productivity on defense? Or offense? You make the call.

Tomorrow: Jon Kitna vs. Eugene Robinson

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Free-agent madeness: Porter vs. Johnson

Yesterday: The clichéd headline during Dave Krieg’s early tenure as Seahawks quarterback featured some variation of the Blitz-Krieg play on the war term that included his last name.

It also was fitting in his first-round matchup against safety Jordan Babineaux, the winner of a play-in “game” against tight end Mike Tice. Krieg blitzed Babineaux, collecting 79 percent of the 1,860 votes. That left Babineaux with 21 percent, or 399 votes – almost 1,500 fewer than Krieg.

One Facebook comment suggested Krieg be penciled into the final – now. We’ll see how that goes.

Today: Rufus Porter vs. Norm Johnson.

This one is a matchup of the highest-scoring kicker in franchise history against a player who was a kick – to watch and to interview.

Johnson came to the Seahawks just after the 1982 draft, and just in time for the players’ strike that erased eight games (Weeks 3-10). When the strike ended, the talented kicker from UCLA came close to booting himself off the roster by missing three field goals in the first game back – from 37, 41 and 23 yards.

But Johnson not only bounced back, before he was done he had scored more points (810) than anyone in club history – not just the kickers. More than Shaun Alexander (672). More than Steve Largent (608). Almost 250 more than the next-highest kicker (Josh Brown, 571).

In nine seasons, Johnson set franchise record for field goals (159), field-goal attempts (228), PATs (333) and PAT attempts (338).

Numbers also were a big part of Porter’s story – starting with the fact that the linebacker from Southern was among the last of the 105 players signed to the training-camp roster in 1988. It was a fact initially lost on Porter. But a few years later, while being interviewed for a story on the new 80-man roster limit, Porter thought for a second before offering, “If they had the rule in 1988, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

It would have the team’s loss, as well as his. Porter made his first mark on special team, leading the club with 16 coverage tackles as a rookie and 13 in 1989 while being voted to Pro Bowl each season. In 1989, coach Chuck Knox began using Porter as a pass-rushing end in the nickel defense and he responded with a team-leading 10½ sacks. In 1990, Porter cracked the lineup as a starting linebacker. In 1991, he added 10 more sacks and 85 tackles. In ’92, No. 97 collected 90 tackles and 9½ sacks.

His 37½ career sacks rank No. 7 on the club’s all-time list and the 312 wrong-way yards they generated are tied for No. 5.

Porter also coined a new category for the NFL’s injury-status report. Asked once at midweek how he would label himself for that week’s game, the injured Porter asked, “What do you mean?”

Told that the official designations were doubtful, questionable and probable, Porter said, “Playful. Put me down for playful. I’m going to play.” And he did.

Tomorrow: Mack Strong vs. Joe Nash

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Free-agent Madness: Babineaux vs. Krieg

Yesterday: Big plays prevailed over big blocks.

Jordan Babineaux, a versatile defensive back who has started at three spots in the secondary since making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2004, easily dispatched Mike Tice in their play-in matchup. Babineaux, whose nickname is “Big Play Babs,” collected 70 percent of the light turnout, or 93 votes. The 6-foot-7 Tice, who made the conversion from quarterback to tight end before making the roster in 1981, got the other 30 percent – or 40 votes.

But the victor in this opening matchup now draws one of the fairytale stories in franchise history …

Today: Babineaux vs. Dave Krieg.

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Free-Agent Madness: Babineaux vs. Tice

Just when you thought the madness had ended, here we go again.

The response to the April Madness exercise to determine the best draft choice in franchise history was so overwhelming, has decided to elicit your help again – this time to determine the club’s best undrafted free agent.

Not Steve Largent, who was obtained in a trade with the Houston Oilers. Not even Jim Zorn, who signed with the Seahawks after being released by the Dallas Cowboys. And definitely not any of the veteran players the Seahawks have signed as unrestricted free agents, like Julian Peterson and Patrick Kerney.

No, these are the players the Seahawks signed just after the draft – rookie free agents. The Seahawks have been very good to these players over the past 34 years, and vice versa.

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Who’s your pick?

While eagerly awaiting the Seahawks’ selections at No. 6 and No. 14 in the first round of the NFL draft, which starts at 4:30 tomorrow, take a moment to participate in’s exercise to select the best draft choice in franchise history.

The “tournament,” which already has generated 15,248 votes, is down to the final two: Walter Jones and Cortez Kennedy.

The setup for the finals was featured in a story, rather than on the blog. So this is a not-so-subtle reminder to vote. The voting period has even been extended to 10 a.m. tomorrow because, well, this is the finals after all.

Not that the finalists need introductions, but Jones (nine) and Kennedy (eight) have been voted to more Pro Bowls than any players in franchise history. Kennedy won NFL defensive player of the year honors in 1992, was named the NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s and inducted in the Ring of Honor in 2006. Jones is the best left tackle of his generation, was named the All-Decade team for the 2000s and could be the next player to enter the Ring of Honor.

Click here to read the story, and vote.

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Rock the vote

Don’t look now, but we’ve got ourselves a real race in the second semifinal of the “tournament” to determine the best draft choice in Seahawks history.

As this is being typed, running back Shaun Alexander has the slimmest of leads over defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy – 52 percent to 48 percent; or 278 votes to 256. (Fill in your own wisecrack about “slimmest” and “Kennedy” being in the same sentence together).

It’s significant not only because the winner faces left tackle Walter Jones in the title matchup. It’s also the closest voting in an exercise where the percent of winning votes have been, in order, 61, 97, 80, 61, 85, 71, 79, 84, 93, 82, 69, 71 and 79.

So, regardless of which former first-round pick you favor – the most-decorated defensive player or most-productive running back in franchise history – he needs your vote.

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