The Seattle Seahawks, or as they are to many, ‘The Hawks’, hail from the rainy north-western city of Seattle and are a fairly new entry into the world of American Football. That isn’t to say that they are any less reputable as a team.
In fact, in the short space of time since their establishment in 1976, the Hawks have become one of the fastest growing teams in the AFL and NFL and they reached the prestigious Super Bowl XL in 2005, facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Seahawks joined the NFL in 1976, together with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as what they call ‘expansion teams’. At the beginning of the seventies, a group of big-wigs in the city of Seattle gathered together with the intention of bringing the sport to their city and putting Seattle on the football map.
They became signed into the league in 1975 by the commissioner, Pete Rozelle, and were led by Lloyd W Nordstrom, who sadly died of a heart attack just before his team got to play their first professional league match.
At this stage the team had the right to play the sport but they didn’t actually have a name yet, so they put it to the people of Seattle and asked for suggestions. They were inundated with responses and after sifting through a staggering 20,000 entries, they finally settled on the Seahawks, which is another name for the osprey.
Their first move was to appoint John Thompson as their general manager, who quickly drafted in Jack Patera from the Minnesota Vikings as his assistant coach and then set about creating a team. With the other new entry into the league, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they were given the chance to select a group of men who were unprotected at the end of the 1975 season.
The all new Seattle Seahawks, who seemed to spring up overnight, took to the field for the first time on August 1st 1976 in a game against fellow west-coasters the San Francisco 49ers, at their newly built home stadium The Kingdome.
The NFL isn’t an easy place to cut your teeth and new teams to the league always find it hard to make an impact. The Hawks were no exception and it took some time for them to notch a first win. This came against a team in the same boat as themselves, the Buccaneers, when they beat them by a fraction 13-10.
A home win would take a little while longer still and came against the Atlanta Falcons whom they beat by a respectable margin of 30-13. Their first season ended with a 2-12 loss to win statistics but this was pretty average for a brand new team to the league and everyone in Seattle had patience.
Move to AFC
The Seahawks were allowed to move over to the AFC West, together with the Buccaneers. This was allowed by the league because they wanted these two ‘expansion teams’ to play each other twice and only play the other NFL teams once in their two seasons in the new league.
1977 didn’t start very well for the Seahawks. They missed the signing of some new players and then moved over from the NFC West to the AFC West but didn’t find any more success in this league. They did pick up some form towards the end of the season though and won their last couple of games, but some people weren’t convinced they were doing the right thing to find their feet.
Those people were hushed though in the next season, when a double win over the giant Oakland Raiders proved they were picking up. They finished that season with a much more impressive 9-7 win record and their star wide-receiver, Steve Largent, was becoming their secret weapon.
1979 was a strange one for the Hawks, as they started the season badly, losing the first 4 out of 5 games, but then found their stride and ended up finishing with exactly the same score as the season before, 9-7.
The eighties were an odd period for the Seahawks. They possessed some very notable players and notched up some pretty decent performances, but there was something still waiting in the wings for them.
They were now a firm part of the AFC West and their key-man, Steve Largent, was firing on all cylinders. There was suggestion that the lack of consistency in wins might be down to the coaching staff, so in 1982 Jack Patera was fired and a new coach, Mike McCormick, was appointed.
They seemed to pick up under the new boss but, at the end of this season, McCormick would move sideways and the new head coach would be Chuck Knox.
The Seahawks finally reached the playoffs in the 1983 season but only by the skin of their teeth. They were drawn against the Denver Broncos at home and beat them 31-7. Then they faced the mighty Miami Dolphins in Florida and beat them too.
Suddenly the world sat up and took notice of them but the mighty force of the Oakland Raiders was too much and so their hopes ended for that year. It was, however, a much better performance all round.
The end of the eighties saw some very notable players come into the team and play some of their best football. Names such as Dave Krieg at quarter back, Curt Warner, Brian Bosworth and the legendary Steve Largent were all making waves in the league and for the Hawks.
The Hawks were certainly a noisy bunch at their home stadium in Kingdome and in 1984 they were awarded the loudest fans award. As a thank you they retired the number 12 shirt and it became the ‘Fans’ shirt, which many Hawks fans can be seen wearing at the games.
1988 saw the Hawks win their first Division Championship with a 9-7 record and with Largent making club history for passes received. They entered the playoffs with gusto but sadly didn’t progress past the first base here and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 21-13.
In the following season, Largent announced he’d be retiring at the end and many Seahawks fans become somewhat worried that he would leave a big hole in the team. They retired his number and finished the season 6-10 and many crossed their fingers.
It was almost funny in 1989 when the Hawks finished with their favourite old record of 9-7, having done another classic club performance of starting badly and then finding form towards the end of the season.
A new coach arrived in the early nineties in the form of Super Bowl winning man, Tom Flores, but that season saw them finish with one of their worst records of all time. They were in need of some new players so some new names had to come in. There were high expectations in quarter back, Nick Mirer, but sadly he didn’t provide much magic for the side.
Then a concrete block fell on the Seahawks…literally. Their stadium was damaged when a slab of concrete fell on it and so they had to move to the University of Washington and play their games at the Husky Stadium there. However, they lost all 6 games there so were pretty keen to get back to the Kingdome.
Flores left the coaching position with the Hawks and went into something more managerial and in came Dennis Erickson. It would take him a while though to bring in the performances and, at the end of the 1997 season, when the Seahawks hadn’t reached the playoffs for nine seasons, there were a few questions being asked.
Erickson had his head on the block and sadly got the chop when his team missed the playoffs by one game. Many admired his achievements but it wasn’t enough for the board. Out he went and in came Mike Holmgren from the Green Bay Packers.
1999 saw the Seahawks start better than ever before, which was quite unlike them. They won the first 8 out of 10 games with the new boss and players like John Kitna. They found their way to the playoffs finally but were drawn against a mighty force, the Miami Dolphins, who with the likes of Dan Marino, were very much on top form. They lost in the last five minutes 20-17 but won the AFC West division title that year for the second time, and were much better off and happier than before.
Back to the NFC
In 2002 the Seattle Seahawks moved back to the NFC in the hope of finding more success and cutting it with the big teams over in that league. It would be a very wise move for the team and result in the drought of wins and playoffs positions being totally buried.
They won the NFC West Division Championship consistently over four seasons in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
At the end of the 2005 season, the Seahawks would make their way to their biggest achievement of all and that was to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl XL. It was to be staged in Detroit and would, as always, be a hotly contested game.
The points were largely shared for much of the game but when some dubious refereeing decisions came out during the final quarter, the Steelers managed to break away and then finally clinch the game 21-10, leaving the Hawks proud but obviously dejected.
They came back fighting though in the 2006 season and completed a great season, nearly netting another Division title but just losing out to the Chicago Bears at the last stages.
The Seattle Seahawks have slowly risen to stature in the game but can now confidently be called one of the bigger clubs. They hold the record for the second longest winning streak for Divisional title wins, they have 32 NFL seasons under their belt and they have a 241-249 winning stat, which looks likely to improve in the coming seasons, as they continue the success found in the last few years.