Category Archives: Seahawks

The Top 11: Seattle sports heroes, #11-7

It’s only natural to follow up a list of villains with a list of heroes, so here are the Top 11 in Seattle history.

11. 1995 M’s Supporting Cast. Alex Diaz. Rich Amaral. Chad Kreuter. Bob Wolcott. Mike Blowers. Dan Wilson. Doug Strange. Luis Sojo. Joey Cora. Unless your last name was Griffey, Buhner, Martinez, or Johnson, chances are there aren’t too many people outside the state who had any idea you were on this team. But the 1995 Seattle Mariners were led by an ensemble cast of characters that seemingly produced a new hero every night.

Diaz, a serial head-first diver, and Amaral, utility speedster, spent three months platooning in center field when Griffey went down with a broken wrist. Kreuter, a lifelong backup backstop, laid down a game-winning squeeze to score Amaral in a late-season game. Strange hit a walk-off jack and proved a reliable pinch-hitter off the pine. The 21-year-old Wolcott took the hill for Game 1 of the ALCS. Sojo hit an inside-the-park “grand slam” in the one-game playoff against California. Blowers tied a Major League record with three salamis in one month. Wilson had a breakout sophomore season to kick start his All-Star career. Cora wept, and we loved it.

There were more, too, and we loved them all. You’d never know that they were the team that didn’t win it all. But they fell one series short of the championship. And we don’t care. We still loved them. We still do.

10. Ichiro Suzuki. For eight years, Ichiro has patrolled the outfield for the M’s and in those years he has done the following: Won an MVP award (2001), won the 2001 Rookie of the Year, won eight consecutive Gold Gloves, been named to eight consecutive All-Star teams, won an All-Star Game MVP (2007), had eight consecutive seasons of 200+ hits, set the Major League record for hits in a season (262, in 2004).

If nothing else, Ichiro has proven to be consistently good. Yeah, he may not be the world’s most personable guy, but one laser-beam throw to gun a runner trying to take an extra base helps us forget that.

9. Brandon Roy. B-Roy may be on temporary loan to Portland, but he’s a Seattleite at heart. He grew up in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, attended Garfield High School, then put on a show at the University of Washington before taking his game to the NBA. On any given game night at Hec Ed, a large number of fans still rock Roy’s #3 jersey proudly. And in a city which has a longstanding basketball rivalry with their neighbors to the South, Brandon’s #7 Blazers jersey is sported all around town.

Roy’s smooth skills and natural athleticism helped him lead the Huskies to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. During the ’05-’06 season, he took home the Pac-10 Player of the Year, beating out Cal forward Leon Powe. In that same year, he knocked down two unforgettable game-tying threes in the same game, against a tough Arizona team at Hec Ed.

Post-college, Roy was selected sixth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who then made the colossal mistake of sending him to Portland in exchange for guard Randy Foye. Roy would go on to win Rookie of the Year honors in near-consensus fashion for the ’06-’07 season. In ’07-’08, he made his first All-Star team and became the unquestioned leader of a young Blazers team with the departure of one-time superstar Zach Randolph.

The Brandon Roy show may no longer be playing in Seattle, but B-Roy will always be one of Seattle’s heroes, no matter where he goes.

8. Mike Holmgren. The head coach of the Seattle Seahawks may be enduring a turbulent farewell tour, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the most successful coaches in this city’s history. As the only Hawks coach to take a team to the Superbowl, Holmgren will forever be the guy that future Seahawks coaches are compared to. Though he carved his niche in Green Bay with the Packers, Holmgren has actually had a longer tenure in Seattle, now in his tenth season.

A West Coast guy, Holmgren is a native of the Bay Area and got his professional coaching start with the San Francisco 49ers. From there he went on to greater success with the Pack, but has remained grounded in Seattle for the past decade.

In addition to being the on-field leader of the Hawks, Holmgren’s tenure with the team began in dual capacity, as he was also the General Manager. In fact, he largely built the 2005 Superbowl team himself, contributing players such as Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Bobby Engram, Steve Hutchinson, Darrell Jackson, Jerramy Stevens, and Josh Brown, to name a few.

Holmgren may not go out a winner, but long after he’s gone, it’s his success that will be remembered in Seattle.

7. Lenny Wilkens. Lenny has one thing that no other coach in Seattle’s history can claim: a major professional sports championship. He was the leader of the 1979 Sonics that won it all, cementing his legacy in the community that had embraced him.

A native of Brooklyn, Wilkens arrived in Seattle in 1968 following a stint with the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks. From 1969-1972, Wilkens guided the fledgling Sonics team both on and off the court as player-coach. While he wasn’t a superstar player for the Sonics, Wilkens did bring immediate respectability to the young franchise before departing in 1972 for Cleveland.

In 1977, Wilkens returned to the city where his coaching career began and took the reins once again. After a Finals loss in 1978 to the Washington Bullets, the Sonics took to the floor against those very same Bullets again in the ’79 championship. This time Seattle came out on top and Wilkens was hailed as a hero.

In 1985, Wilkens’ Seattle coaching career came to an end, and he’s been on a world tour ever since. Over the past two decades, Lenny has coached in Cleveland, Atlanta, Toronto, and New York. However, he has maintained his home here in the Pacific Northwest and now looks to finally be calling it quits after three years out of coaching and a Hall of Fame career intact.

Hawks beginning to resemble 2004 Seattle Mariners

The 2004 Seattle Mariners finished dead last in their division and had the third-worst record (63-99) in Major League Baseball. A veteran-laden club, the ’04 Mariners opened the season with a regular on the wrong side of 30 at every position. Five of the team’s best players were 35 or older, including catcher Dan Wilson (35), first-baseman John Olerud (35), second baseman Bret Boone (35), designated hitter Edgar Martinez (41), and starting pitcher Jamie Moyer (41). Despite their quickly-closing window, the team entered the season with high expectations after winning 93 games in 2003. But of course, by the time June rolled around, the team was theoretically out of contention, having put together an 8-15 April and an 11-16 May.

The 2008 Seahawks are starting to take on the look of their next-door neighbors from 2004. Now 2-8 on the season, the Hawks are out of playoff contention and we’re only in week 11. Like the ’04 M’s, the Hawks entered the season with high hopes, coming off five straight division titles and a loss in the NFC divisional playoffs a year ago.

Similar to the Mariners, the Hawks of ’08 are also an aging bunch. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is 33, and plagued by a bad back. Wide receivers Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are 29 and 35, respectively, and like Hasselbeck have been bitten by the injury bug. All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones will turn 35 in January. Linebacker Julian Peterson is 30. Defensive end Patrick Kerney is a month away from 32. Left guard Mike Wahle is 31. The rest of the team, when healthy, has vastly underperformed.

Like the 2004 M’s, the Hawks brass currently see the team’s performance this season as an aberration, rather than the beginning of a trend. Following their dismal ’04 campaign, the Mariners performed a “patchwork rebuild,” essentially trying to rebuild and compete at the same time. Patchwork rebuilds are carried out by filling positional holes with stopgap veteran players, while at the same time trying to bring along young talent at any and every position. In order for patchwork rebuilds to really work out, a team needs a core nucleus of young players it believes it can build around, while at the same time bringing in adequate veterans to bridge the gap between the present and the future.

The 2005 Mariners carried out their patchwork rebuilding effort by signing power hitting vets Richie Sexson (30 years old at the time) and Adrian Beltre (26), while retaining holdover vets such as Bret Boone (36), Randy Winn (31), Ichiro Suzuki (31), Raul Ibanez (33), Dan Wilson (36), Aaron Sele (35), and Jamie Moyer (42). Additionally, the team felt they were building from within behind players who either started the year at the Major League level, or were in the high minor leagues. Those players included outfielders Jeremy Reed (24), Chris Snelling (23), and Shin-Soo Choo (22); catchers Miguel Olivo (26) and Rene Rivera (21); shortstops Yuniesky Betancourt (23) and Mike Morse (23); second baseman Jose Lopez (21); and starting pitchers Gil Meche (26), Joel Piniero (26), Clint Nageotte (24), and Felix Hernandez (19).

Of course, by mid-season 2005 the Mariners were abject failures once again and experts and fans alike saw the team for what it was: a blend of older players past their prime and younger players that weren’t nearly as talented as once thought. The Mariners finished in last place again in 2005 and are now engaged in an “overhaul rebuild,” or the total rebuilding of the organization from the minor leagues on up. Overhaul rebuilds incorporate new team philosophies, new leaders, and new players at all levels to send a franchise in a new (and hopefully winning) direction. While they usually involve up to five years of development, overhaul rebuilds have a better chance at success than patchwork rebuilds and are more apt to produce consistent, longterm results.

The Seahawks front office will be facing a dilemma regarding their rebuilding efforts in the coming offseason. Though the NFL is quite different than Major League Baseball in terms of contracts, free agency, trading, and the lack of a minor league system, rebuilding efforts are often fueled by salary cap-saving moves and the NFL Draft, which produces immediate answers for teams with questions.

With veterans abound on a Hawks team that, under its current makeup, looks hard-pressed to challenge a bourgeoning Arizona Cardinals team in 2009, the front office will have to decide whether it wants to a) move in a different direction at quarterback (not likely given Hasselbeck’s reputation), b) bring back receivers Deion Branch and Bobby Engram, c) begin the process of reconstructing the offensive line (especially the aging left side), and d) improve a young secondary that has had trouble defending the pass. In addition to all the questions regarding the product on the field, the team will also undergo a coaching change, with Mike Holmgren retiring and Jim Mora, Jr. stepping in.

No matter which direction the Hawks choose to proceed, they will undoubtedly have a tough task at hand in attempting to repair a ballclub with more questions than answers at this point.

The Top 11: Seattle sports villains, #6-2

The recap of villains #11-7, which can be found here: 11, Jim McIlvaine; 10, Shaun Alexander; 9, David Stern; 8, Erik Bedard; 7, Jeff Smulyan.

6. Tyrone Willingham. There’s a theory in dating that says if you aren’t very good looking, then you better have a great personality to make up for it. Apparently Paint-Dry Ty felt he was either the exception to this rule growing up, or was one hell of a sexy guy. Either way, the soon-to-be former head coach of the Washington Huskies football team has had without a doubt one of the most scrutinized tenures of any coach or manager in Seattle sports history, thanks in large part to two factors: his complete lack of personality and his inability to win ballgames.

Continue reading The Top 11: Seattle sports villains, #6-2

Could we see Mike Vick in a Hawks uniform?

With Michael Vick announcing today that he fully expects to play football next season after his release from prison, NFL fans everywhere have to be wondering whether their team will be the one to give the former Falcon a shot. So that got me thinking about the possibility of Vick becoming a Seahawk. Before you shoot this theory down “because the Hawks don’t sign players with character issues,” allow me to present two reasons why this possibility could turn into reality.

Continue reading Could we see Mike Vick in a Hawks uniform?

Friday’s notes

-From the good news department, the Oklahoma City Thunder have lost five straight games and are now 1-7 on the season. On a side note, the Thunder have dubbed their dance team the “Thunder Girls.” Really? You couldn’t come up with something more creative than that? How about “Thunder Bolts,” or maybe “Thunder Cats?” Maybe the “Claymates” would work or “PJ’s BJ’s,” even. How about the “Harlot Globetrotters?” There are just so many unexplored avenues here.

-In case you haven’t heard, Rick Neuheisel comes to town tomorrow with his 3-6 UCLA Bruins. Neuheisel, who was on with KJR’s Mitch Levy earlier in the week, expects to receive a mixed reaction from the crowd and issued a sincere apology to Husky fans for the circumstances surrounding his ouster five years ago. On a personal note, for those of us that have met Rick Neuheisel in person, it’s no surprise really that he’s returned to coaching this quickly after such a messy situation. Neuheisel has the charm and likability factor that colleges seek in head coaches. Given the opportunity, I have no doubt that you could put Slick Rick at a tiny rural outpost (like Washington State perhaps) and watch him turn it into a winner.

-The Husky Men’s Basketball team opens the season tomorrow at the University of Portland. Unlike last year when the Dawgs didn’t play a true road game until 13 games into the season (12 home games and 1 game on a neutral floor), this year they’ll be getting things underway away from Montlake. Portland is led by Bellevue native Luke Sikma, a 2007 Bellevue High School grad and the son of former NBA player Jack Sikma.

-Wide Receiver Courtney Taylor has been signed off the practice squad and will rejoin the Seahawks this Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field. Taylor was plagued by a bout with the dropsies when he was cut a few weeks back by the team. He was able to clear waivers and had been practicing with the team until the release of WR Keary Colbert earlier in the week.

Give Julius the damn ball!


Julius Jones is not a complainer, but I imagine that if he was, he’d be bitching up a storm right now about his inability to tote the rock. Prior to signing a four-year, $11.8 million contract with the Hawks in the offseason, Jones was forced to watch ex-teammate Marion Barber steal carries from him in Dallas, despite the fact that Jones was considered the number one tailback. Searching for greener pastures, Jones came to Seattle with the expectation of being THE GUY, not just one part of a package deal. With the big contract and only career backup Maurice Morris to really challenge him for the role of starter (T.J. Duckett is locked into that short-yardage role, but can’t honestly be considered a legit starting option), all Jones had to do was be consistent at the start of the year to lock down his role.

And consistent he was. Despite the fact that MoMo started the season opener, Coach Mike Holmgren tapped Jones in relief and he didn’t disappoint, providing 45 yards on 13 carries, as well as 17 receiving yards on two catches. In Weeks 2 and 3, Jones went certifiably off, rushing for 127 and 140 yards, respectively, with a TD in each game.

Yet since Week 3, Jones hasn’t come close to equaling that production, nor has he been given the opportunity. Jones received 26 and 22 carries, respectively, in the two games he went off. Since then, he has received no more than 17 carries, which came in Week 5 against the New York Giants. Versus the Giants stingy run defense, Jones managed just 61 yards on those 17 attempts. He did so under tough conditions, however. The Hawks were on one of their infamous East Coast road trips, and the G-Men were able to stack against the run with a particularly weak Matt Hasselbeck (who was eventually removed from the game due to injury) under center. That unfair shake was really the last we saw of Julius until last week at Miami when he put together an 88-yard day with just 16 carries (a 5.5 YPC average).

Perhaps the most puzzling game for Jones came in Week 8 at San Francisco. The Niners were the victims of Jones’ 127-yard day in Week 2, but in Week 8 only allowed him to go for a measly nine yards. Coach Holmgren, however, may have been Jones’ biggest roadblock, allowing him to run the ball only six times that day. While the run game was stifled nearly all day long (a team total of 39 rushing yards), backup Maurice Morris was still given 11 chances at penetrating the Niners D, nearly twice as many as Jones. Morris, for all his efforts, only managed seven more yards (16) than Jones.

So I guess my question is, what the hell has Julius Jones done to piss off the coaching staff? He’s put together a few nice games when presented the opportunity, but he’s only been afforded that luxury a couple times this season. And it’s not like he’s some underpaid rookie; he’s supposed to be the guy to carry the ball for this team each and every game. Come on, coaches. Let’s get Julius the damn ball. He deserves it.

Is playing Hasselbeck the right move?

After missing the past five games with a back injury, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck is expected to start this Sunday against Arizona. But is it the right call? The Hawks are more than halfway through a lost season and a loss to the Cardinals this week will mathematically eliminate the team from playoff contention. So what’s the point in playing a guy who isn’t 100%?

Sure, backup Seneca Wallace hasn’t done much to warrant confidence in Hasselbeck’s absence. But his supporting cast has been atrocious and Wallace has shown improvement. In last week’s game at Miami, Wallace completed 21 passes on 38 attempts and totaled 185 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. Compare that to the line of Dolphins starter Chad Pennington: 22-36 passing, 209 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. The backup nearly equaled the performance of his counterpart, the entrenched starter, and did so under adverse conditions: 80-degree heat, high humidity, 10:00 AM West Coast start time, down a receiver (Deion Branch).

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a “Play Seneca Wallace!” shout out, but I just don’t see the point in risking injury to a franchise quarterback when the only two things currently at stake are pride and draft position. And frankly, I’d rather see this team finish 4-12 with a Top 10 pick instead of shoot for 7-9 with a mid-round selection. Let’s not ruin these dreams, Seahawks.