Number 2: Curt Warner turned the Seahawks into a playoff team
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.