Is The Seahawk Franchise Snakebit?

For those who don’t know my background, I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1976 when the Seahawks first started playing in the NFL. I’ve seen the whole thing from when Jack Patera started the franchise off as a gambling ”roll the dice” bunch of wheeler dealers straight out of the Wild Wild West to when Mike Holmgren finally brought them respect as fighters to the end and advanced the team past the championship game for the first and only time. In between, I’ve watched the franchise suffer through one setback after another and I’ve often wondered if the team is somehow jinxed and has a huge curse laid upon them. The Seahawks certainly are one of the franchises that has suffered the most setbacks, bad luck, and disruption that has been dished out over the last 34 years if not the leader the leader in those categories from what I’ve seen. Without doing too much research, here’s what I remember from the top of my head about how it all came down and how the curse has affected the team right up to our current situation. Anyone who remembers other tidbits, please leave a comment and fill in the gaps. I know some of you were there, too.

In their very first chance for the Seahawks to come out on top, they lost the coin toss with Tampa Bay for the first pick in the draft. Tampa drafted hall of famer Lee Roy Selmon and Seattle settled for Steve Niehaus, who quickly suffered multiple knee injuries and was out of professional football. I remember all the media hype about how Niehaus was going to be the cornerstone of the Seattle defense for the next decade. They must have got him mixed up with Selmon, who did exactly that for Tampa Bay.

Does anyone remember David Sims? He was drafted by the Seahawks in 1977 out of Georgia Tech in the 7th round. They hit one of those rare situations where they struck gold in the later rounds and Sims led the NFC in touchdowns in 1978 and the future looked bright for the Seahawks and their fantastic young running back who seemed poised to set the league on fire. In 1979, he suffered a neck injury and the doctors said that if he continued to play football, he might become paralyzed and never walk again. For a young franchise in just its fourth year, that was a devastating blow from which it took years to recover. It wasn’t until the team drafted Curt Warner in 1983 that they once again had a running back with such a bright looking future. To continue reading the article, please press Read more… below.

In 1977, the same year they got Sims, the Seahawks also traded their first pick to the Cowboys for their 1st rounder and three 2nd rounders. The Cowboys picked Tony Dorsett, who would go on to have a hall of fame career. The Seahawks selected OG Steve August with the 1st rounder and LB Terry Beeson, LB Peter Cronan, and OG Tom Lynch with the 2nd rounders. Seattle proved that quantity doesn’t equal quality with that trade; while Dorsett led the Cowboys to two Super Bowls and made the pro bowl 4 times, none of the Seahawks players acquired from the traded draft picks would have anywhere near the impact on their team. Seattle’s bad luck continued.

Of course, Curt Warner also carried his own tale of woe with the Seahawks. He led the AFC in rushing his rookie season and also led the Seahawks to the AFC conference championship, which they lost to the Raiders. Then in 1984, he tore his ACL and missed the entire season. Although he came back in 1985 and had some successful seasons, making the pro bowl three times, many feel he was never the same back that he was in that rookie season. Chalk up another time Seattle had the whole world in its hands with a promising running back that was going to tear up the league for years to come and then the old bad luck syndrome took over and took it away.

1987 began with great expectations and many predicted they would end up in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks won  the lottery and obtained the first pick in the supplemental draft that year, and even though Brian Bosworth, the top player available said he wouldn’t play for them if picked, they selected him anyway and signed him to a long term contract. Bosworth, the 1985 and 1986 Dick Butkus award winner, never did live up to expectations as he developed degenerative arthritis in both shoulders and had to retire from professional football three years later. Any team in the league who would have had the same opportunity to draft Bosworth would have jumped at the chance, as he was the most dominate linebacker to come out of college in a decade and was considered a sure bet to have a hall of fame career. I always wonder if he suffered the disease because he was drafted by Seattle and the curse caught him in its ugly grip or if he would have had the hall of fame career with another team.

In 1988 Ken Behring bought the Seattle Seahawks from the Nordstrom family and almost ran the franchise into the ground before our hero Paul Allen rescued the team. Ken hired his son David Behring to be the president and GM and with the blind leading the blind, they went on the cheap and Seattle was never a contender for his whole tenure as owner, which covered almost a decade. That was the worst of times for the franchise and one from which they almost never recovered. The Seattle curse was in full force when Behring bought the franchise.

In 1993, during the height of the Behring years, the Seahawks drafted Rick Mirer out of the University of Notre Dame with the second pick in the draft. They had hoped that New England would select Mirer so that they could then select Drew Bledsoe, a local hero from Washington who played for the WSU Cougars. In a repeat of the ’76 draft, New England selected Bledsoe ahead of us and we were left with Mirer in hopes that he would be able to be the franchise’s quarterback of the future. Bledsoe went on to become one of the top 10 quarterbacks in NFL history. Mirer, who looked to be on his way to stardom as he shared the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award with former college teammate Jerome Bettis in his first season, saw his career turn sour and his inconsistent play in the following three seasons led to several benchings and eventually his departure in a trade to the Chicago Bears following the 1996 season. Mirer was just another iteration of the Seattle curse that has dogged this franchise for 34 years as of now.

In January 1996, Seahawk’s owner Behring announced that he was going to move the franchise to Los Angeles and play their games at Anaheim Stadium. He used the fact that ceiling tiles at the Kingdome had fallen the year before and forced the team to play their games at Husky Stadium as an excuse to claim that the Kingdome wasn’t safe in an earthquake, therefore giving him the right to break his lease. After King County dug in its heels on the lease, Paul Allen obtained an option to buy from Behring and then rallied the community and got a special vote through in which the community affirmed their support for him to build a new stadium and he purchased the team. At one time the trucks were loaded with all of the Seahawk’s equipment and on their way to California. The Seahawks future in Seattle never looked bleaker than at that moment. I put all my time and efforts that I could spare into SOS (Save Our Seahawks), doing what I could to save my team. I’m sure many of you Addicts did, too.

In 1999, Mike Holmgren came to Seattle and in his first year seemed to be on his way to bringing home the bacon when he was 8-2 after 10 games. It seemed that the Seahawks were going to be one of the top contenders that year and then lost 5 out of their last 6 games to finish 9 – 7. They still made the playoffs though because of poor play by other teams within the division but then lost to Miami in the Kingdome to continue the long drought of playoff wins. The curse wasn’t done with us yet as the collapse fit the pattern all too well.

Prior to 2005, Seattle had the longest drought of playoff victories of any NFL team, dating back to the 1984 season. It was the streak that almost forever identified the Seahawks as the poster boy for a loser in the eyes of the NFL. It wasn’t until Holmgren finally got his team put together and firing on all cylinders that the stigma was lifted and Seattle finally made it to the Super Bowl and then went on a 4 year stretch of ownership of the NFC West division title and shed the loser’s image at last. For the 20 year stretch between 1984 and 2004, the curse had keep us in disarray and facing one problem after another from poor ownership, to even worse coaching, to bad drafts, to even Holmgren’s refusal to adapt his scheme to fit the players talents, the Seahawks continued to not win a playoff game.

Then 2005 came. No one can forget the year we finally made it to the big show, and every Seahawk fan felt we had the better team that day. We all know the refs took the game away from us that year, but I just see the same pattern of bad luck that’s followed us all through the years hitting the team again just when it looked as if we were going to breakout into the sunshine and get our share of the glory. We had paid our dues and that was supposed to be our day. Was it really just the refs having a bad day, or was it the curse that hit again just when we thought we had it made? You tell me.

The next year after signing our only league MVP in franchise history to a huge contract, he broke his foot and was never the same running back again. Even though we took the division both that year and the next, it was more because of a weak division than our team’s strength as we found out in the playoffs both years. Figuring we still had some good years left in our core players after the Super Bowl year, instead they dissapeared one by one, and two years later the Seahawks were a different team. Hutch defected, Tobeck and Gray retired, Stevens got fired, our top receivers left in free agency or were traded after proving to be a disruption to the team, and Hasselbeck missed some games at quarterback. The curse was still alive and well and continuing to dog the Seahawks.

Finally, Holmgren’s final year as head coach came up and everyone speculated that he would be able to rally the team to one last heroic effort and get back to the Super Bowl for a storybook finish. No one believed that the Seahawks would not put their best effort forth for Holmgren’s last year and the fact that the new head coach was on the staff wasn’t considered to be a problem. That and the bad luck was all forgotten as we headed into the 2008 campaign. I don’t need to detail how Seattle’s luck ran last year, do I? The curse came back with a vengeance and Seattle had an epic rash of injuries the likes of which Holmgren had never seen in all his coaching days and many NFL observers said the same. Our entire receiving corps and our entire starting offensive line were wiped out and Holmgen ended his career with the worst season of his coaching career at 4 -12. How could anyone not consider that bad luck of the worst kind? The curse hit a future hall of fame coach square between the eyes on the eve of his departure.

Now we’re here in the 2009 season, and at first the season looked bright as a new silver dollar under coach Mora, who was deemed to be in the perfect position of being a second time head coach with two years of tutorship from future hall of fame coach Holmgren under his belt to take control of the team and be successful right out of the chute. Drafting the best player in the draft and having the whole team healthy again seemed to say that Seattle had paid its dues the year before and was finally ready to have another magical season like in 2005 when the breaks came our way and the team stayed healthy all year long. Now I have to ask if the curse has reared it’s ugly head one more time and taken Walter Jones and Marcus Trufant from us. Is this the first of many bad things to follow that will take another promising year and turn it into yet another year of what-ifs and could-have-beens? You at least have to consider the possibility that the Seattle Seahawks are snakebit.

I’m usually the most positive person you’ll find here in at Seahawk Addicts, but having been through it all from day one and seeing with my own eyes what seems to happen to the team every time we seem to be getting somewhere, I have to stop the glass half full routine and explore the possibility that the glass is half empty and draining fast. Losing Walter Jones and Marcus Trufant at this stage can really hurt, and as others have pointed out,it really sets us up again for a disaster if we lose one more offensive tackle or another cornerback and can’t find suitable replacements. It puts us down to almost zero depth in those two areas before the season starts. Let’s not kid ourselves either that we can find those suitable replacements at this stage of the game and integrate them into our new schemes in time to start the season strong.

I don’t think the curse has fully struck yet, but it sure has made its presence known. Let’s hope we have enough karma not to suffer the next stage of a collapse and that from here on out, good luck will prevail. Everyone needs to get their positive thinking auras in place and functioning at a high level. Let’s all chant. No more injuries. No more injuries. No more injuries. If you know any way to stop curses, I would also recommend that you employ those preventative measures now. We’re on doomsday’s staircase and we can’t afford to take that next step down. I’ve seen it before and I recognize the symptoms. 34 years kind of gives you a perspective and a 6th sense about these things. I wrote the article about the 3 concerns of mine in which Trufant and Jones were two of those three concerns just a couple of days ago because I had an itch on the back of my neck that the curse was hanging around again. Please don’t let it begin again. It isn’t fair. The Seahawks have paid their dues and then some and are owed a break by the universe at large. Don’t you Addicts agree?

Hasta,

BillT

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