Max Unger is good. If you don’t agree, you’re either a 49ers fan or you don’t know how to evaluate the center position. He was voted as an all-pro, which means that the league thinks he was the best C in football in 2012. Like I said, Max Unger is good.
As Seahawks fans, we should what good center play is. After all, Unger is just the latest in what has been a extremely solid line of centers throughout the franchise’s history.
As I’ve been researching the team’s history for the the “Greatest Seahawks of All Time” draft game that we’re doing, I’ve been surprised at the continuity that the Seahawks have had in terms of great play at center. Just for fun, lets take a look at the team’s history at the position:
After a year of juggling oft-inured players at the position, the Seahawks drafted John Yarno in 1977 and handed him the starting job a year later. Yarno was small by today’s standards, but light on his feet and was very adept as “pulling” and becoming a lead blocker on runs to the outside, as well as an adept pass blocker.
Yarno handed the reigns to the position to Blair Bush in 1983. Bush was more of a road grader, and more fitting for of the “ground chuck” offense that coach Chuck Knox wanted to run. The Seahawks got Bush for 5 years in his prime. He played 6 more years of his 16 year career after leaving the Seahawks.
After Bush there was a lull in the talent level at the position for a few year with Grant Feasel and Ray Donaldson holding down the spot. Ken Behring and Tim Flores were clueless about offensive talent, so it doesn’t surprise me much that they ruined the string of great centers.
Then Paul Allen bought the team, and the position returned to it’s previous level of quality. There was a 1 year rental of Jim Sweeney, who was good but old, and a bit of a mercenary.
After that came Kevin Mawae. He’s not in the Hall of Fame yet, but I expect he will be in a couple years. Unfortunately, he’ll go in as a Jet, since he spent most of his career in New York. Had Mawae stayed in Seattle, he’d likely be remembered with the same fondness as other Seahawks greats.
After 2 years of with the very talented but old and injured Kevin Glover at the spot, Mike Holmgren decided to sign Robbie Tobeck to hold down the position. He stabilized the offensive line and was a key cog that helped get the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005.
Tobeck retired after that, and gave way to Chris Spencer. Spencer was a bit of a disappointment, but he did manage to keep his starting spot across 3 different head coaches. That has to mean something, though I fear it says more about the lack of other alternatives than about him. Spencer was drafted by Tim Ruskell, which is a fact that I’ll include without additional commentary.
Finally, Spencer was removed to make way for Unger, who hopefully will be the one snapping the ball to Russell Wilson for the next decade. I’ve already said he’s good. There’s no need to repeat it now.
From Yarno, to Bush, to Mawae, to Tobeck, and now Unger, the Seahawks have a great history of quality play at the center position. Perhaps its time for us as fans to recognize the greatness that we’ve witnessed at the position over the years.