The 15 best running backs in the history of Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has always been known as one of the NFL's most run-oriented teams. Here are the fifteen best running backs in their history.
Nov 24, 1984; Denver, CO, USA; FILE PHOTO; Seattle Seahawks running back Dan Doornink (33) carries the ball against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Mandatory Credit: MPS-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 1984; Denver, CO, USA; FILE PHOTO; Seattle Seahawks running back Dan Doornink (33) carries the ball against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Mandatory Credit: MPS-USA TODAY Sports /

It should be no surprise that the Seahawks have produced some of the best running backs ever. They are one of the few teams in the NFL that still emphasize the run, in fact. There are a couple of names I just can’t include in the Hawks' top fifteen. One is fifth among the NFL’s all-time leaders, and the other is fifth on the Seahawks' all-time rushing list. Yet I’m leaving both of them out.

The more studious 12s knew this was coming: the only problem with the latter player is that he’s a quarterback. That’s right, Russell Wilson ran for 4,689 yards in College Navy, Wolf Gray, and Action Green. Wilson ranks seventh in rushing touchdowns for the Seahawks with 23. More impressive that his 5.5 yards per carry average is second among all Hawks with at least 100 attempts. But, he’s not a running back, so let’s move on.

One rather glaring, surprising, and even a bit embarrassing fact is that Seattle hasn’t produced a lot of the NFL’s top career rushers. It’s true that a former Seahawks player is actually in the league’s top five running backs of all time. It’s also true that he only took the field in one game for Seattle. Yes, I’m talking about Adrian Peterson. Of his spectacular 14,918 yards and 120 touchdowns, just 16 of those yards and a single touchdown came for Seattle. I can’t exactly say he was one of the Hawks best 15 running backs.

Seahawks have had some of the league’s greatest running backs ever

Let’s get back to the running backs that we can legitimately claim as our own. A quick note here: I fully expect that when I revisit this in 10 years, Kenneth Walker III will be very near the top. Alright, back to Hawks history. The first back Seattle can reasonably claim as a Seahawks player is 24th on the league’s list of top running backs. This is a good time to clarify that this list is sorted by total career yards. Happily, I am not so constrained, as you’ll see.

Initially, I was going to get a little mathy with my list. Fear not, mathphobes, it was just a little mathy, and it was simple, like me. The Seahawks have had several great running backs that spent part of their career with other teams. I didn’t discount the rest of their careers, but I’m primarily concerned with what they did for our beloved Hawks. At first, I planned to credit those players with just 10 percent of their stats outside of their Seahawks. In practice, that still resulted in some ridiculous inclusions.

Going back to Adrian Peterson, I’d have added 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns to his career totals. To clarify, that’s10 percent of his 14,918 yards and 119 scores outside of Seattle. Just going by statistics, that would place him ahead of Thomas Rawls and Dan Doornink, right behind Rashaad Penny. Frankly, that struck me as stupid. I mean, stupid even for me. So I scrapped that idea and just went with a more common-sense approach. No matter what he did in his other 183 games, I can’t say AP was one of the Hawks best running backs ever based on one game. So let’s get to the players that did make the cut.

The top 15 running backs in Seattle Seahawks history

15. David Sims

David Sims was one of the first star running backs of the Seattle Seahawks. As you’ll see with a few more of the Hawks' best backs, he split carries with another star player. As a result, his stats may not seem to measure up with others at first glance. Sims was drafted out of Georgia Tech by the Hawks in 1977, their second year in the league.

As a fullback, Sims’s primary task was blocking for his backfield mates. Despite that, Sims did lead the entire NFL in touchdowns in his second season in Seattle. He scored 14 times on the ground in 1978. He added another score as a receiver and had 947 total yards from scrimmage. The future looked very bright.

Unfortunately, his next season was cut short due to a neck injury in just the third game of 1979. He lost more than his season, as his NFL career was finished as well. It’s probably not much of a surprise that even decades later, David Sims is coaching. He’s currently the running backs coach for the University of Pennsylvania and a Seahawks legend.

14. Dan Doornink

That’s right, 12s, Washington State is in the house with Dr. Dan Doornink. He played fullback for the Cougars, and – oh, I’m sorry, let me give you time to google that.  That was f u l l b a c k. Anyway, Doornink was a beast in college and ranked second in Cougar history for total yards when he graduated. The Giants drafted him in the seventh round in 1978, but he came home to the Seahawks the very next year.

Doctor Dan was a force for the Hawks in the 80s. His first year in Seattle, 1979, was easily his best. He ran for 500 yards and scored eight touchdowns on the ground. The Seahawks also used him extensively in the receiving game. Doornink caught 54 passes for 432 yards and another score. He did all that while sharing carries with another of our top 15 running backs, too.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great player after that season. The Hawks simply used other backs a little more and often abandoned the run game because they fell behind so much. The Hawks gave up about 24 points per game for most of the early 80s. Dan Doornink may have played a long time ago, but he wasn’t a two-way player. He did all he was asked to do and more.

13. Derrick Fenner

Like several of the backs on the Hawks all-time roster, Derrick Fenner was drafted with an eye toward the future rather than immediate help. Seattle had two backs that combined for over 2,700 yards from scrimmage in 1988, so clearly, the path to flashy stats was blocked for the 10th-round pick out of Gardner-Webb. I imagine more 12s have heard of that school than remember when the NFL draft went that. As a rookie, Fenner did very little; he had just 14 touches on offense and only got into five games.

1990 told a very different story for the 6’3″, 240-pound beast. Seattle’s bell cow of 1988 saw his production drop drastically in ’89, and in 1990 he was on a different team. He’s definitely a Seahawks legend, but we’ll get to him later. Much later. As for Fenner, all he did was take over as the Hawks lead back, rush for 859 yards, and lead the league in rushing touchdowns with 14. 1991 was another rough year for him, though.

A persistent battle with tendinitis in his knee grounded Fenner for five games. He only made 7 starts after getting the nod in all but one in 1990. He was clearly hampered by the knee as his average dropped from 4.0 to 2.9 yards per carry. Fenner’s time in Seattle was over, and he was in a Bengals uniform the next season.

He played for six more years in the NFL after leaving the Seahawks, appearing in 120 games in all. His move to fullback – his natural position – certainly reduced his opportunities with the rock. Fenner may never have approached his big sophomore season stats, but a nine-year career for a tenth-round pick is a pretty amazing achievement. His best year by far was with Seattle. As with so many of these players, who knows what he could have done if he’d stayed healthy in that pivotal year?

12. Maurice Morris

Maurice Morris is yet another of the Seahawks' backs who could have had much better stats if he’d only arrived at a different time. In this case, he picked the worst possible time to join the Seahawks. Seattle had an absolute monster at RB1 when they drafted Morris with the 54th pick of the 2002 draft. We’ll get to that gentleman later – much later, in fact.

As for the former Oregon Duck, Morris got plenty of work as the Hawks primary kick returner for his first three seasons in the league. He ranked 13th in the league as a rookie, averaging 24.1 yards per return with one score on a spectacular 97-yard return versus the Cardinals. Morris had 233 yards on seven returns in that game. I don’t have to tell you, 12s, that seven kickoff returns in one game is a stat no one wants. The Hawks lost that contest 37-20.

But eventually, his time in the sun arrived. The Seahawks ran their starting RB god into the turf after an unbelievable workload from 2001 through 2005. If you weren’t sure who I was talking about before, you know exactly who he is now. From 2002 – 2004, Morris never got more than 38 carries. In 2005, Morris just about doubled his opportunities with 71 carries for 288 yards. In 2006, he finally got his chance with the first unit, racking up 604 yards on 161 carries.

For the next two seasons, Morris continued to be a key player for the Hawks, yet he never led the team in rushing. Again, it wasn’t the best possible timing for him. Case in point; even though he was the nominal starting running back in 23 games, Morris only scored nine times with 1018 touches in seven seasons with the Hawks. Seattle always seemed to have another back in the limelight, but Morris was much more than a grinder. He just had bad timing.

11. Thomas Rawls

Like so many of the players on the Hawks all-time roster, Thomas Rawls saw his promising career derailed by injuries. Make that his very promising career. Seattle signed him as an undrafted free agent to back up a legitimate beast; I think it’s fair to say the expectations for the Central Michigan Chippewa standout were pretty low. Yet in 2015, it was Rawls who led the Hawks in carries, yards, and rushing touchdowns, not the Seahawks legend.

Rawls still holds the Seahawks rookie record for most rushing yards in a single game with 209. The record for most rushing yards in a playoff game,161, belongs to him too. 830 yards for an undrafted rookie is a phenomenal start to a career. That’s especially true considering he broke his ankle against the Ravens in December. Going into 2016, Rawls was still going to be the main man in Seattle’s backfield.

Yet as we’ve seen so often already, the football gods had other plans for Rawls. He continued to battle injury issues including a high ankle sprain. Despite his promising rookie campaign, Rawls struggled to get on track in 2016. He had only one hundred-yard game and had multiple starts averaging less than two yards per carry.

His opportunities continued to drop in 2017, and in 2018 Rawls moved on to the Bengals. He was only active for one game, taking the field for two special teams snaps. And that was it for him. The man who began his career with a 5.6-yard per carry average could never get back on track after his ankle injury. For one year, Thomas Rawls was on his way to joining the pantheon of legendary Seahawks. It simply wasn’t to be.

10. Rashaad Penny

There are good reasons I have other gentlemen ranked higher than Rashaad Penny. He got off to a decent start in his 2018 rookie campaign. Granted, 419 yards on 85 carries isn’t exactly record-setting, but considering who he shared the backfield with, it wasn’t terrible either. It wasn’t the most auspicious start for a first-round pick, but he certainly flashed more than a little promise.

Then 2019 arrived and like so many Seahawks before him, the injury bug bit. Penny missed six games in his second season, a pattern that would get much worse in 2020. Despite the missed time, the former first-round pick’s second year was an improvement over his rookie season. His rushing average jumped from 4.9 to 5.7 yards per carry. His touchdowns doubled from two to four, despite having about three-fourths as many touches. The nagging injuries aside, Penny was on his way.

I don’t need to remind you that 2020 wasn’t very kind to Rashaad Penny. He was only active for the final three games of the season and did virtually nothing with his limited opportunities. With just 34 yards from scrimmage, Penny looked like a huge disappointment. I mean, no less than five running backs had more yards than he did; and that doesn’t count Russell Wilson and wide receiver David Moore.

And now we come to the happy part of the story, the fairy tale ending. 2021 certainly didn’t start that way, as Penny only played in four of the Hawks first 11 games. He wasn’t exactly mesmerizing in those contests, either, as he racked up just 43 yards on 17 carries. He pulled a hamstring after two runs versus the Cardinals on November 21st. He was inactive for the next week, and it looked like the book was closed for good on Rashaad Penny.

And then Adrian Peterson had a talk with him. At least, that’s what Penny himself said. Whether it was seeing the field differently or learning to play through injuries, Rashaad Penny was an entirely different player. He only had 35 yards on 11 carries versus the Niners, it’s true. But Penny kicked in the afterburners all good little 12s had been waiting years to see on a screen that he turned into a critical 27-yard gain.

After that game, Penny was the player the Seahawks drafted way back in 2018. He slashed through the Texans, Bears, Lions, and Cards. The Rams held him in check, but they’re not exactly an easy bunch. It’s too soon to tell if this was a true turning point for him, but it certainly seems to be the case. Yes, you could say I’m basing my ranking of Penny on a handful of games, it’s true. But you’ll have to look a long time to find another Seahawks back with a run of performances like that.

9. Sherman Smith

The Seahawks hit the jackpot with their third draft pick ever when they selected their first running back, Sherman Smith. At 6’4″ and 225 pounds, he had been a solid player at Miami of Ohio but certainly didn’t compile the stats of a Ricky Bell, whose 1,957 yards nearly doubled Smith’s 1,002. Chuck Muncie of Cal was thought to be the top back in the 1976 draft and was the first one taken.

Yet when you compare their professional careers, Smith ran neck and neck with Muncie for their first four seasons. Tell me which stat line is Muncie’s, and which belongs to Smith. No cheating!

ATT      YDS      AVG      TD      RCP      YDS      TD

641    2,880    4.49      25       142     1,668    8

748    3,225    4.31      26       118      1,061   1

Our man Sherman Smith is the first man listed. Muncie played in 55 games in his first four seasons with 48 starts. Smith saw action in 54 games with 50 starts in his first four years. Smith split his carries with two of the players I’ve already mentioned, first Sims then Doornink. While he didn’t suffer quite the same fate as David Sims, Smith saw his career derailed by injury as well.

While Sims suffered a neck injury in the third game of his third season, Smith made it into his fifth year in the league before an injury ended his 1980 season. Like Sims, Smith got hurt in the third game, although in his case it was a knee injury instead of his neck. Without their lead back, the Seahawks saw their record plummet from 9-7 to 4-12. When he came back in 1981, number 47 was confident that he would pick his game up as if he’d never missed a down.

Despite his confidence in his knee, Smith never did fully recover. While he did play in all 16 games, he only started eight. His ability to cut just wasn’t the same. While he had averaged nearly 4.5 yards per carry before the injury, he only averaged 3.0 yards in his first season back, and only got the ball 83 times. In 1982 he only played in nine games, and his carries dropped to 63. He wrapped up his career with a final season in San Diego, hanging up his cleats after just 24 carries. As with so many of the Hawks ball carriers, injuries cut short a career that started as one of the brightest.

8. Chris Carson

Now, when I say this man was nearly an afterthought, in no way does that describe how the Seahawks felt about the tenth player they took in the 2017 draft. 25 running backs were taken before him in that draft. They include some true superstars, like Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Dalvin Cook. Still, I believe any GM in the league would say Chris Carson was among the five best backs taken that year.

One thing we can be sure about: Pete Carroll never considered Carson to be an afterthought. True, it took some injuries ahead of him to get Carson on the field as a rookie, but once he got his chance, he proved he belonged with the league’s best. He only made it for four games before an injury took him out of the lineup with 208 yards, but let’s look at his numbers projected for a full season. And let’s not forget he didn’t start until week 2. I’ll adjust his rookie season to his average carries in his second and third seasons, when he stayed relatively healthy.

In 2018 and 2019,  Carson averaged 18.1 carries per game. Since he never played a full 16-game slate, I’ll adjust his stats to a 14-game season. As a rookie, he averaged 4.24 yards per carry. A quick trip to mathy world – 18.1 x 14 x 4.24, and Chris Carson could have been expected to produce 1,074 yards as a rookie. That puts him ahead of Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, James Connor, and Aaron Jones. Alvin Kamara had even more yards receiving than rushing, and Dalvin Cook missed 12 games, just like Carson.

Carson also averaged 1.97 catches per game in years one and two. Projected to 14 contests at 8.42 yards per catch, that’s another 232 yards from scrimmage. That would place him ahead of even Christian McCaffrey, who played in all 16 games and totaled 1,086 yards from scrimmage, compared to Carson’s projected 1,306. Had he stayed healthy, only Kamara would have outproduced him among the 2017 rookies.

Ah, but that’s the rub, isn’t it? As with so many of the Seahawks greats, Carson could never stay healthy. By 2020 Seattle split time between him and Carlos Hyde in an attempt to keep him fresh. He still missed four games. And then, of course, he was lost for the season in 2021 and retired this year.

As fans, we were conflicted. We knew we’d miss his slashing style, his hurdles over defenders, and how he’d simply smash into linemen with 80 pounds on him, and move the pile. Carson literally left everything on the field for the Seahawks. Add that every member of the running back room had nothing but the highest praise for him, even as they all tried to wrest carries away, and Chris Carson simply cannot be kept out of the conversation for best Hawks running back ever.

7. Mack Strong

To be specific, he was a blocking machine. Mack Strong was one of those backs whose career overlapped that of Morris. You get right down to it, Mack Strong’s career practically overlapped everyone from Jim Zorn to Jamal Adams. Okay, so he played from 1994 – 2007, but he man still had longevity. He could also influence a game without ever showing up on the stat sheet. Okay, sure, he has some stats, but the man’s bread-and-butter was blocking. And by blocking, I mean obliterating the opposition.

Mack Strong ranks first among all Seahawks running backs in games played with 201. That places him second among all Hawks, behind only Joe Nash’s 218 games. Now consider that Strong played fullback, a position where he was routinely asked to block players that outweighed him by 60 or more pounds. According to statistics compiled by Christina Gough for, the average career length for an NFL running back was 2.57 years. I don’t have the timeframe covered by that, but a 14-year career for a running back is astounding. For a fullback, it’s insane.

Do you want crazy, like, really crazy, 12s? Mack Strong made the Pro Bowl twice. That’s pretty good for a fullback, right? Especially a fullback who had a total of 548 yards from scrimmage in those two seasons combined. Strong was even a first-team All-Pro in the first of those two years. Now, here’s the crazy part; he was 34 when he was named an All-Pro, and 35 in his second Pro Bowl appearance. He played one more year, then retired at the age of 36. He only had 909 yards rushing over his entire career, but if there was ever a player who deserved a name like Mack Strong, he was it.

6. Ricky Watters

Our next star is a bit of a different case from almost any other player on our list. If we include his entire career, his 142 starts, 2622 carries, and 10,643 yards would easily make him the number one back in Seahawks history. He certainly isn’t in the same category as AP; I mean, he did play more than one game with Seattle. But it remains a fact that Ricky Watters did most of his damage with other teams.

He began his career with the much-despised 49ers in 1992. The Seahawks running back room was in great shape then – as you probably remember – but Watters made an immediate impact on the league. He ran for over 1,000 yards as a rookie but saw his production begin to tail off over the next two seasons. Watters joined a bird team in 1995, but one of the wrong ones – the Eagles. Hey, at least it wasn’t the Cardinals.

Philadelphia decided to do what so many teams enjoyed in the ’90s – they nearly ran him to death. After seasons of 206, 208, and 239 carries with the Niners, the Eagles promptly added 100 carries a season to his workload. Over the next two seasons, Watter had 37 more carries than he did in his first three. Not that he got bad results; he totaled 2,684 yards and 24 rushing TDs in ’95 and ’96. Luckily for him, the Eagles dropped his workload in ’97, but he still managed 1,110 yards and seven scores. He also racked up 301 catches for 2,760 yards and nine touchdowns in those cities that no one cares about.

And now we get to the good stuff – Ricky Watters with the Seahawks. He was 29 years old when he joined Seattle. I realize that’s pretty young, but of the nine men we’ve already discussed, only Morris and Strong played past that age. Happily for the 12s, Watters had a lot left in the tank. He played four seasons in Seattle and racked up over 1,200 yards for the first three. He was dangerous out of the backfield too, with 155 catches and four touchdowns to add to his 21 on the ground.

But 2001 was to be his last in Seattle and in the league. He suffered a broken ankle – man, does that ever sound familiar, right 12s? – and was done after just five games. Overall, Watters tallied 994 carries for 4,009 yards and 22 touchdowns for the Seahawks. He ranks seventh in career rushing yards for Seattle and eighth in touchdowns. Not too bad for a guy who was on his third team!

5. John L. Williams

So, 12s, just how is it possible that the guy who’s sixth all-time in rushing yardage for the Seahawks was never the number one back in any season? That really only happens when you’re a fullback – and John L. Williams was one of the best to ever play. I suppose this is as good a time as any to mention that the guy ahead of Williams isn’t even a running back. That’s right, DangeRuss himself is fifth in rushing for Seattle.

But we’re here to talk about the Seahawks best running backs of all time, not the guys who made their living throwing the ball. No, we’re here, good 12s, to talk about the John Williams. His career yards from scrimmage came in at 9,662. Yes, he was plenty good out of the backfield, too.

In his eight years with Seattle, he ran for 4,759 yards and picked up another 4,151 receiving. By the way, his receiving yards not only top the list for all Hawks running backs, but place him eighth among all receivers. His 471 catches rank him fifth all-time. You could win a lot of bets by asking who caught more balls for Seattle, Williams, or say, Bobby Engram. When he retired, only Steve Largent had more catches than the Hawks fullback.

Yet that position was his true claim to fame for Seattle. As I wrote earlier, as the Seahawks fullback, his primary job was to block for his teammate in the backfield. He began his career opening holes for the man who’s second on my list, led the way for Derrick Fenner, and hammered open gaps for the next man on my list. Williams even led the Hawks in rushing in 1991 when Fenner went down, earning his second straight Pro Bowl nod. He was a devastating blocker and an absolutely selfless player.

4. Chris Warren

He held the Seahawks' rushing title for eight years, and yet Chris Warren rarely comes up when people discuss the Hawks’ best running backs. When you look at his stats or see clips of his plays, that seems unbelievable. When he left Seattle, Warren was both the all-time leading career rusher with 6,706 yards but also had the single-season record of 1,545 yards. Yet he seems to be an afterthought today.

I believe there are a lot of reasons for this. Seattle took him in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL draft. He initially enrolled at the University of Virginia but transferred to Division III Ferrum College after his sophomore season. Not too many Division III players even get signed after the draft, let alone taken that early. Still, it’s hardly the resume that’s going to pump up expectations from your team or the fanbase. So he arrived with little acclaim.

Now add that the Seahawks were in full Ground Chuck mode in 1990. Chuck Knox was in his sixth season with Seattle and his offenses featured a punishing running game, led by the number two man on my list. Oops, should have mentioned the spoiler alert – sorry, 12s. But you get the point; when Chris Warren was drafted, the Hawks were all about the running game. But he was a fourth-round pick from a Division III school, and Seattle already had John L. Williams and Derrick Fenner in place. It wasn’t until his third season in the league that Warren got his chance to shine – he only had 17 carries combined in his first two years.

Sadly, 1992 was not conducive to universal acclaim. That was Tom Flores’ only season as the Hawks head coach; to say the 2-14 result was less than appreciated by the 12s, well, it wasn’t. But it was Warren’s first of four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He capped that run with his outstanding 1995 performance when he not only set what was then the Hawks single-season yardage mark but set the scoring mark as well with 15 touchdowns. Nagging injuries – sounds familiar by now – took their toll.

While he was still Seattle’s lead back for the next two seasons, in 1998 he was with the Cowboys, effectively playing out the string and ending his career with a single game for the Eagles. Even during his three straight Pro Bowl seasons, he had little support. Stan Gelbaugh and Rick Mirer are not going to lead you to the promised land. Perhaps that’s why Chris Warren has become something of a forgotten man.

3. Marshawn Lynch

I have to tell you, 12s, it wasn’t easy to list this man as the third-best Seahawks back of all time. Many will argue only one man was better, and you could make an argument he was the best. Second, maybe, but there was clearly one even greater.

Still, Marshawn Lynch was a unique talent and remains a unique man. He may still have the biggest fanbase among the 12s even though it’s been seven years since he was a major factor for the Hawks. He played with reckless abandon and conducted his press conferences, unlike any other star before or since. I can guarantee you this: He isn’t here just so he won’t get fined.

If Lynch hadn’t spent his first three years with the Bills – and the first four games of his fourth – he’d probably be more than 2,000 yards past Chris Warren in second place for yardage. As it is, his career total of 6,381 yards is fourth on Seattle’s all-time list. His 58 touchdowns are second all-time; he did all that in just 83 games. Lynch was a phenomenal talent – a bulldozer that came factory-equipped with rocket boosters.

How many times did Lynch obliterate his opponents, only to dive backward into the end zone? I know it wasn’t on all 58 of his rushing touchdowns, but it sure feels like it. And can we be real here for a moment, 12s? Lynch joined the Hawks for week five of the 2010 season. His blend of speed and power made him an immediate favorite of the 12s, and the coaching staff.

Despite finishing just 7-9, the Seahawks still won the division. They met the 11-5 Saints in the opening game of the playoffs, and – well, you all know what happened. If there are somehow five or six of you who don’t, the Beast Quake set off alarms not only on seismographs but throughout the NFL. Marshawn Lynch was for real, and so were the Seahawks.

2. Curt Warner

Now 12s, I know football is the ultimate team sport. Number 28 wasn’t the only newcomer in Seattle in 1983. New head coach Chuck Knox certainly had a lot to do with the Seahawks' success. Quarter Dave Krieg began to take the reins from Jim Zorn, and HOFer Steve Largent was in his prime. But Curt Warner was the man the Hawks turned to in crunch time. Before he was done, he’d write his name at the top of the Seahawks record book. His records have been surpassed, but he never was in the hearts of the 12s.

Unlike many of the great Hawks running backs, a lot was expected from Warner at the very start. He was the third player taken in the 1983 NFL draft after powering Penn State to a national title. Oddly enough, he teamed with a  running back named Jon Willams in Happy Valley, and would welcome John L. Williams to Seattle in 1986. John L. was by far the superior iteration. As for Warner, he immediately lived up to those lofty expectations. His 1,449 yards were third in the league, 13 touchdowns were fourth, and was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Oh, and helped carry the Hawks to the AFC Conference title game.

His sophomore season was a disaster as a knee injury in week one took him out for the season. Happily for the 12s, he returned in 1985 after a year of grueling therapy on his reconstructed knee. He played in all 16 games and posted another 1,000-yard season. He’d return to the Pro Bowl in ’86 and ’87, helping the Seahawks back to the playoffs in the latter season. From 1985 through 1989, he only missed four games and was a huge part of Seattle’s success.

Many 12s might be too young to remember Warner, but he was an absolute artist on the football field. He would dice up defenses with precision, cutting and gliding effortlessly to the endzone time and again. As Dave Boling wrote for the Spokesman-Review a few years ago, Warner often left defenders frozen as he’d instantaneously pivot and leave them grasping at air.

But all those precision cuts took a toll, too. Despite his brilliance, he was never quite the same after the knee surgery. Three ankle surgeries certainly didn’t help matters, either. He joined the Rams in 1990 for what would be his final season. As for the Seahawks, his 6,705 career yards still rank third, as do his 55 rushing touchdowns. In the crowded field of the ’80s best running backs – names like Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen, and Tony Dorsett, Curt Warner was one of the best. He would have been the all-time leading rusher for the Buccaneers, Falcons, Patriots,  Saints, and Texans. We 12s were blessed to have him.

1. Shaun Alexander

If you took the DNA of Jim Brown and Barry Sanders and then reared this perfect running back like a Spartan from 300, you still wouldn’t be able to push Shaun Alexander out of the lineup. He broke the Seahawks career rushing mark midway through his sixth season. As you know – or younger 12s may have learned – Seattle has had some spectacular running backs throughout its history. Yet Shaun Alexander is so far ahead of the pack, it’s almost inconceivable.

His 9,429 career rushing total is 2,723 better than Warren’s, the number two man. That’s two full seasons of incredible output. Yet Alexander achieved that in just eight years. His 100 career rushing touchdowns are 42 more than second-place Marshawn Lynch, a man rightfully considered a scoring machine.

His otherwordly 2005 MVP season – 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground, another score receiving – is easily the Seahawks best ever. The only person to even approach that season was Alexander. In third place is Marshawn Lynch and he was almost 300 yards behind. Alexander has five of the Hawks top six single-season rushing touchdown records.

Seahawks 15 best receivers ever. dark. Next

I’ve already gone to some lengths to explain why Alexander absolutely belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame. I’ve rehashed enough of those arguments here as it is. As with so many of the Hawks great backs, his career was cut short by injuries too. Just imagine what this man would have accomplished on the field had he escaped those foot and wrist injuries. Let me just finish with this: as great a player as he was, Shaun Alexander is an even better person. As with so many Seahawks, he works harder than ever to support his community. Few of us can dream to be the player he was, but we can all aspire to his greatness off the field.