Seattle’s recent success has created nationwide attention. Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Earl Thomas have become household names. The team secluded in the great northwest is hidden no more. Neither are the future players or past greats of this proud franchise.
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After winning their first Super Bowl title, football fans took notice. Suddenly, the Seattle Seahawks were a popular Internet search and jersey sales took off. The excitement about these searches were due to the increase by people east of Spokane. EAST! A definite change for the Hawks.
Benefiting from Seattle’s new found interest were Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. These guys are considered the best defensive back duo in the NFL. What may surprise newer followers, is that great safeties are not foreign to the Seahawks. In the 1980s one of the NFL’s all time greats roamed Seattle’s defensive backfield.
An All-American out of UCLA, Kenny Easley quickly became the leader of Seattle’s defense. The Seahawks former first round pick was known for his crushing hits. He was also a ball hawk, able to pick off passes few could.
During his seven year career, all as a Seahawk, Easley played in five Pro Bowl games. He was a four-time First-team All-pro, winning the 1984 Defensive MVP. In 1987, his last in the league, he was a Second-team All-Pro.
The year 1987 was a year marred by a player’s strike. Even worse, owners hired “scabs” to replace striking players. Easley worked alongside NFLPA head, Gene Upshaw, as a player representative. After the strike ended, Easley’s days in Seattle were coming to a close.
Before the 1988 season, Seattle arranged a trade with the Phoenix Cardinals. Desperate to find a franchise quarterback, Easley became trade bait. However, during his physical with his new team, Easley was diagnosed with a severe kidney disease. Along with voiding the trade for Kelly Stouffer, Easley was forced to retire (Seattle reworked a trade eventually landing Stouffer).
After retiring, the relationship between Seattle and Easley became fractured. Citing legal issues with the team and the attempted trade, Easley cut ties with Seahawks football. Nevertheless, in 2002 he was added to the team’s Ring of Honor. As a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team, Kenny Easley set the bar high for future defensive backs suiting up for Seattle.
In 2014, both Earl Thomas (free safety) and Kam Chancellor (strong safety like Easley) need to play at the level displayed by Kenny Easley. It’s very clear they have the talent to do so. I just hope he’s watching.