The Seattle Seahawks have had some outstanding running backs in their history, so let’s take a shot at ranking the top 5 in order.
Now that Marshawn Lynch has taken his Beast Mode persona and ridden off into the sunset of retirement, we can pause and take a moment to reflect on how he fits in with the lexicon of past Seattle running backs.
For how relatively short their history is, the Seahawks have had some outstanding runners. Some were undrafted free agents who seemingly came out of nowhere to be franchise backs, while others were high draft picks or marquee free agents. Heck, we even brought in an all-timer in Hall Of Fame inductee Franco Harris, although he won’t be anywhere near this list as he was a shell of his former self by the time he showed up at the Kingdome.
So here we go, our shot at ranking the Top 5 RB’s in Seahawks history begins with……..
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#5 Chris Warren, 1990-1997
Warren was a 4th round draft pick out of tiny little Ferrum college after he was forced to transfer from Virginia where he struggled with academics. He was used primarily as a kick returner his first two seasons but once he got a chance to take the reigns in the backfield he became a force. He rushed for 6,700 yards between 1992 and 1997, making three straight Pro Bowl appearances. At 6’2″ and 228 pounds he was a very smooth and fluid runner. He wasn’t the type to make highlight-reel, ankle-breaking cuts, but he was adept at running to daylight, had surprising breakaway speed for his size, and could run you over for the extra yard.
Warren doesn’t finish higher on the list because he played on bad teams, and was more solid than spectacular. But there’s no questioning the quality of his time spent toting the rock in Seattle.
#4 Ricky Watters, 1998-2001
The Seahawks were Watters third NFL team after he won a Super Bowl ring in San Francisco before departing as a free agent for Philly. He only spent four seasons in Seattle, rushing for 4,000 yards and 22 TD’s.
So why is he so high on the list?
It was the way he went about his job.
Watters was one of the toughest SOB’s you’ve ever seen carry a football. He was Beast Mode before Beast Mode. He ran hard, he played hurt, he picked up blitzes and sacrificed his body, and through it all he was also one of the more versatile RB’s of his time. He caught 166 passes for nearly 1,500 yards and 4 scores and helped spearhead the transition to the Mike Holmgren Way of offensive football.
Watters was a bright spot on some otherwise mediocre teams early in Holmgren’s tenure.
#3 Shaun Alexander, 2000-2007
Alexander owns nearly all of the Seahawks rushing records, and in today’s NFL where bell-cow RB’s are no longer the norm some of them may never be broken.
Among his many accomplishments:
- 9,429 yards rushing
- 100 TD’s
- NFL MVP in 2005
- 3 time Pro Bowler
- 2 time All Pro
- Named to the NFL’s All Decade team for the 2000’s
Alexander may always be the most prolific and productive of all Seattle running backs, but why is he not then considered the best? Fair or not, he will always be dinged by the fact he played behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, and perhaps the best LT/LG combo in history in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. For all of Alexander’s gifts running in the open field, he got to do it so often because of the gaping holes created up front.
Despite good size, he was never a physical runner, and sadly when he started experiencing minor injuries his last two seasons in town he became a complete shell of himself…….seemingly overnight. His penchant for running out of bounds to avoid hits did him no favors when it comes to lists like these.
Alexander isn’t in the Seahawks Ring Of Honor yet, but he will be. He’s more than deserving, and he was a huge part of the team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 2006, but he will go no higher than #3 on this list.
#2 Curt Warner, 1983-1989
Warner is kind of the anti-Alexander. His career was hampered by injuries, but the grit and determination he showed in trying to grind out a career in an era where knee injuries were total game-changers was admirable.
And then there was that rookie year…..
Warner burst on the scene in 1983 after being the 3rd overall pick out of Penn State. He rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 TD’s, and it was the WAY he did it that earns him the second spot. He had an ability to make incredible cuts at full speed, changing direction and sending would-be tacklers grasping for air. He was also a much better receiver than people remember, hauling in 193 passes over his 7 years in Seattle.
The torn ACL suffered in preseason prior to his 2nd year clearly affected him throughout the rest of his career. He was no longer the elite game-changer we were hoping for. He did, however, manage to be productive, and in fact his numbers in 1986 were nearly identical to his rookie campaign.
His 1987-1989 seasons were more mediocre than magical, however, but Warner will always be remembered as the first truly elite offensive player this franchise had seen. And for that, he finishes as the runner up on our list.