There is no Walter Jones in this group. No once-in-a-generation, first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Former Seahawks draft picks Shawn Springs and Kevin Mawae are among the first-year-eligible nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015, announced Tuesday.
They join former coaches Chuck Knox, Tom Flores and Mike Holmgren and former running backs Shaun Alexander and Ricky Watters as nominees who coached or played for the Seahawks.
Those seven are among 113 total nominees — a list that will be whittled to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January before the inductees are selected Super Bowl weekend.
The Seahawks have had a good run in the Hall of Fame recently, with career Seahawks Cortez Kennedy and Jones being inducted over the past three years. They join Steve Largent as the only career Seahawks in the Hall (and they shared a great moment before the Seahawks’ opener a couple of weeks ago).
But do any of Seattle’s current nominees have a chance to join that trio this year? Let’s take a look at each of the seven, starting with the coaches:
Chuck Knox (1983-91): Knox spent nine of his 22 NFL seasons with the Seahawks. He turned them into instant playoff contenders, becoming the first coach in league history to win divisions with three franchises (Buffalo and the Los Angeles Rams). But Knox never won much in the playoffs. He was 7-11 over his 22 seasons and never won a Super Bowl. He was a great coach who got the most out of what he had, but he seemingly never had enough to get to the top. He’s 10th in NFL history in wins (186) but only 25th in playoff wins. He’s a lot like Marty Schottenheimer and Dan Reeves, except Reeves went to the Super Bowl four times (no wins). The 82-year-old Knox has been out of the league for 20 years, so it seems very doubtful he will get the call.
Tom Flores (1992-94): Nobody in Seattle has fond memories of Flores, who became the general manager under Ken Behring, ousted Knox and took over as coach. He went 14-34 — a .292 winning percentage that is the worst of any of the Seahawks’ eight coaches. Flores is a nominee only because he led the Raiders to two Super Bowl wins in the early 1980s. He had a .610 win percentage in nine years with the Raiders, but the Seattle stint really tainted his resume. Plus, he coached for only 12 seasons, so he doesn’t have the longevity. Like Knox, he has been out of the game for 20 years, so he seems pretty unlikely to make it in.
Mike Holmgren (1999-2008): Holmgren was a great system coach, following the Bill Walsh way, and he put together an impressive 17-year career in Green Bay and Seattle. He restored the Packers to greatness, winning one Super Bowl and losing another, and was the first coach to take the Seahawks to the championship game. There will always be an asterisk surrounding that one, of course, and if he had won it he would have been the only coach to do so with two teams.
As it stands, he is one of five coaches to take two teams to the title game. Don Shula and Bill Parcells are in the Hall, and Reeves and Dick Vermeil are nominees this year alongside Holmgren, who has a better regular-season winning percentage (.592) than either. Holmgren ranks 13th all time in wins (161) and only four inactive coaches are ahead of him — Schottenheimer (200), Reeves (190), Knox and Mike Shanahan (170).
Of course, Holmgren also is going up against fellow Super Bowl winners Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson and Tony Dungy, plus Don Coryell. The latter three were semifinalists last year, so they seem to carry the favor of voters more than Holmgren. And, with so many deserving players up for consideration, that means Holmgren probably will wait a little longer.
Shaun Alexander (2000-08): Alexander had one of the great five-year runs of all time, culminating in an MVP season in 2005, when he set an NFL record with 28 touchdowns and the Hawks reached the Super Bowl. But those huge numbers came because he played behind a great offensive line — Walter Jones is in the Hall of Fame and Steve Hutchinson is probably headed there.
Alexander is just one of a bunch of excellent — but not legendary — running backs on the 2015 nominee list. Jerome Bettis (sixth in NFL career rushing) and Edgerrin James (11th) are the cream of this crop, and even they aren’t the best of the best. Alexander (32nd) is a secondary back along with Watters (21st), Jamal Lewis (22nd), Tiki Barber (24th), Eddie George (25th), Ottis Anderson (26th), Herschel Walker (39th), Roger Craig (40th), Priest Holmes (42nd), Stephen Davis (47th) and Terrell Davis (51st).
The one thing Alexander has more of than any of those guys is touchdowns; his 112 rank 14th in NFL history, and nine of the guys ahead of him are in the Hall (LaDainian Tomlinson, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison are the ones who are not). Alexander’s 100 rushing touchdowns are tied for No. 7 all time with Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk — Tomlinson, who is not yet Hall eligible, and Alexander are the only ones in the top 13 who are not in the Hall.
Like Emmitt Smith, Alexander was largely a product of his stellar line. There was nothing special about him, and his touchdown totals probably won’t be enough to score him even a semifinalist spot.
Ricky Watters (1998-2001): Let’s forget the fact that Watters was not a very likable guy and just look at where he sits in the above company. In 10 seasons, he managed to eclipse 10,000 rushing yards, but so did most of the other backs in this class of nominees. He was a very good West Coast running back — just as good a dual threat as Craig, his predecessor in San Francisco. He rushed for 1,200 in his first three years in Seattle before getting hurt and losing his job to Alexander. Watters has been out of the league for 13 years and hasn’t sniffed the finalists’ list. He just wasn’t elite. And some people won’t ever forget his “For who, for what?” comment when he was with the Eagles. (Especially because that’s what he titled his book.)
Shawn Springs (1997-2003): Not sure how Springs got nominated. He had a nice long NFL career, starting in 1997 when the Hawks made him the No. 3 pick in the draft (they picked Jones three picks later). But Springs just never became what it seemed like he should. He had about three really good years for the Hawks before injuries became a problem and he ended up moving on to Washington for five years and New England for his final season in 2009. He had just 33 interceptions in his 13 seasons — which puts him far down the career list. He’s certainly not better than fellow nominees Eric Allen, Ty Law, Albert Lewis or Troy Vincent. And with 16 defensive backs on the list, Springs won’t make the cut.
Kevin Mawae (1994-97): A second-round pick of the Hawks in 1994, Mawae left in free agency as soon as he could. After enduring Flores and Dennis Erickson and no winning seasons, can you blame him? He had become a very good center in Seattle, and he went to six Pro Bowls in eight years with the Jets, plus two more in four years with Tennessee. He’s a great center in a historic group of linemen that includes fellow first-time nominee Orlando Pace, 2014 semifinalists Joe Jacoby and Steve Wisniewski and finalist Will Shields among 23 players. Mawae probably won’t make the cut this year, but he could make his way in eventually.