By Dave Wischnowsky–
They were here in October.
But let’s be honest, you weren’t really paying attention to Seattle three months ago when the Seahawks visited the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
Until they went and won the stinkin’ game.
But now that Pete Carroll’s beaked bunch is headed back to the Windy City for an unlikely postseason rematch, you’ll no doubt want to know everything there is to know about Seattle’s Best.
Plenty, I’m quite sure, will be written this week about X’s, O’s and on-field issues leading up to Sunday’s big game. So, to switch things up, I thought I’d instead provide you today with some off-topic information about Seattle’s 34-year-old NFL franchise.
That way you can spend this weekend dazzling your friends with your grasp of Seattle football trivia in the same way that Jay Cutler will no doubt be dazzling the Seahawks’ secondary.
(Let’s hope, at least.)
The Bicentennial Bunch
I was born in 1976. And so were the Seattle Seahawks, who entered the NFL that season as an expansion team along with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Four years earlier, in June of 1972, a consortium of Seattle business and community leaders organized – no doubt over cups of coffee – to form Seattle Professional Football Inc. with the sole intent of bringing NFL football to the Emerald City. In 1974, the group met its goal when NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle announced that Seattle had been awarded a franchise.
In 1975, a fan contest was held in to name the team and the nickname derby drew 20,365 entries that suggested a whopping 1,742 different names. Seahawks was suggested by 151 entrants and judged by team ownership as the best choice.
The Seahawks are the only team to have played in both the AFC and NFC championship games.
And how did that happen?
Well, in 1976, the Seahawks began play in the NFC West Division but then switched conferences with the Buccaneers after just one season and joined the AFC West. This quirky move was prearranged by the NFL so that both expansion teams could play each other twice and every other NFL franchise at least once during their first two seasons.
In 2002, the Seahawks then returned to the NFC West as part of the NFL’s realignment plan that balanced out both conferences’ divisions by assigning each four teams.
Good Trade, Bad Trade
In August of 1976, just before the start of their inaugural season, the Seahawks scored arguably their biggest “win” in franchise history when they traded a measly eighth round pick in the 1977 draft to the Houston Oilers for wide receiver Steve Largent.
The future U.S. congressman and Hall of Famer merely went on to play 13 seasons in Seattle, after which he retired while holding all the major NFL receiving records, including most receptions in a career (819), most receiving yards in a career (13,089) and most touchdown receptions (100).
Karma, however, came back to bite the Seahawks in shorter order after the Largent steal. In 1977, Seattle also traded its first round pick to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a first-rounder and three second-round picks. Dallas then used the Seahawks’ draft position to select Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett.
The Golden Boy
In 1993, the Seahawks used the second pick of the NFL draft to pluck quarterback Rick Mirer out of the University of Notre Dame. During his first season, Mirer actually shared the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award with his former college teammate Jerome Bettis. However, things quickly soured after that and Mirer was traded to the Bears after the 1996 season.
(Mirer, by the way, spent just one season in Chicago, where he joined the Bears’ illustrious list of sadsack signal-callers by throwing for 420 yards, six interceptions and zero touchdowns.)
These days, Seattle doesn’t boast many Midwesterners on its active roster. Just four Seahawks hail from the Big Ten (Iowa DT Colin Cole, Ohio State DE Jay Richardson, Penn State RB Michael Robinson and Purdue DT Craig Terrill), two are from Notre Dame (TE John Carlson and WR Golden Tate) and one more from Division II Saginaw Valley State in Michigan (WR Ruvell Martin).
West Coast bias.
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.