Seattle Seahawks Franchise Turns 41, A Look Back


Forty-one years ago, Seattle was awarded a professional football franchise.

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Before the franchise was set, a group of local business and community leaders formed the Seattle Professional Football Inc. Their intention was to secure a team. The NFL awarded Seattle – and Tampa Bay – an expansion franchise June 4, 1974. Later that year, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle announced the official signing of the agreement.

Seattle Professional Football then asked the public for a team name. A contest took place, bringing in 20,365 entries suggesting 1,741 names. Some of the names were unique – like Aardvarks, Space Needlers and Vampires – while others were serious contenders. The five finalists were Evergreens, Mariners (the MLB team had its first game a year after the first Seahawks game), Olympics, Seahawks and Sockeyes.

According to, the name Seahawks – suggested 151 times – was liked by Rozelle and NFL Executive Director Jim Kensil. The team’s owners, Lloyd Nordstrom and Herman Sarkowsky, along with general manager John Thompson took a vote, resulting in favor of Seahawks two to one.

As for the Seahawks roster, players came from a veteran allocation draft, college draft, free agents, trades and castoffs from other NFL teams.

The expansion draft consisted of 17 rounds. Seattle had 25 picks, including three in the second, three in the third, three in the fourth and three in the fifth.

Tampa Bay got the first pick in the draft, Seattle second. The Buccaneers selected Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon. The Seahawks first pick was Steve Niehaus, who won NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year with 90 tackles and 9.5 sacks. While it started bright, Niehaus’ professional career was short-lived thanks to a knee injury.

Seattle’s next pick was linebacker Sammy Green, a four-year starter who played his last season in the NFL with the Houston Oilers. Green had three interceptions while in Seattle, returning one for a 91-yard touchdown.

The Seahawks second round picks were running back Sherman Smith and wide receiver Steve Raible. Seattle selected punter Rick Engles and kicker Don Bitterlich in the third round. Steve Myer became the team’s first quarterback selected at 93rd overall in the fourth round.

“With the expansion draft and the way some others got to the team, we were a bunch of misfits, really, that didn’t necessarily fit into any one program. But we kind of made our own program.”  -Undrafted free agent quarterback Jim Zorn to

Other players drafted by Seattle include offensive guard Randy Johnson, defensive tackle Lodie Dixon, offensive tackle Bob Bos, running back Andy Reid and defensive back Jarvis Blinks. The Seahawks drafted just one local player, Chris Rowland, a quarterback from Washington.

Jack Patera was the head coach, leading the team to a 2-12 record and placing fifth in the NFC West – also consisting of the Los Angeles Rams (10-3-1), San Francisco 49ers (8-6), New Orleans Saints (4-10) and Atlanta Falcons (4-10). The only wins came against Tampa Bay in Week 6 (13-10) and Atlanta in Week 9 (30-13).

It wasn’t until its eighth season that Seattle clinched a wild card birth, defeating the Broncos 31-7 and eventually losing to the Raiders in the conference championship. The team made it to the wild card playoffs twice more (’84 and ’87) before making it to the division championship in ’88 where it lost 13-21 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Seahawks made it to three more wild card rounds (’99, ’03 and ’04), losing all of them, before appearing in the franchise’s first Super Bowl in ’05. That season holds the team’s best record (13-3), along with the ’13 season also sending the team to a Super Bowl.

Since ’03, the Seahawks have missed the playoffs just twice (’08 and ’09). Seattle’s best success has come in the past five years under current head coach Pete Carroll.

In his first year, Carroll led the team to its fifth NFC West title. The 7-9 team ended its season losing to the Bears in the divisional playoffs 24-35. The only time Carroll’s Seahawks have missed the playoffs was in 2011. He has since taken the team to back-to-back Super Bowls, claiming the franchise’s first Lombardi trophy.

A lot has changed in the past four decades for the Seattle Seahawks. But if one thing is for sure, it’s that the franchise is at its peak. I won’t mention keeping the successful team together – that story is for another day.

Next: How Long Will Cary Williams Be A Seahawk?

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