The Seahawks now have their Hall of Fame Mount Rushmore.
Over the weekend, Kenny Easley joined Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones as the only career Seahawks in the Hall of Fame.
Easley and Jimbo Covert (Bears) were the only players from the NFL’s Team of the 1980s who were not in the Hall. Thanks to the seniors nomination, Easley finally got in.
Easley was one of the most dominant defensive players of the 1980s, but he was not nominated for the Hall of Fame previously because he played just seven years — his career ended by a controversial kidney issue.
Easley was not the only relative short-timer to make it in Saturday; Terrell Davis, who had three spectacular years among seven NFL seasons and got in because he was a rare 2,000-yard back who led the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles.
Easley was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 1984, when he picked off 10 passes and menaced receivers and running backs all around the league. He is one of five safeties to win the award, which began in 1971.
As Paul Moyer said in our 2008 book, “Then Zorn Said to Largent,” “Kenny Easley was the finest athlete I’ve ever been around. … He was drafted by the NBA (10th round by Chicago in 1981). He returned punts for us and even lined up at cornerback at times. He was the most feared hitter in the NFL.”
Ronnie Lott, the other superstar safety from the 1980s, has immense respect for Easley.
As he told Mike Sando in 2002, “Kenny could do what Jack Tatum could do, but he also could do what Mike Haynes could do. He was not only a great hitter and great intimidator on the field, but he was a great athlete. Kenny, Lawrence Taylor and those guys changed the game of football on the defensive side because they were not just big hitters. Now, all of the sudden, you were seeing guys who were big hitters, but also as athletic as anyone on offense.”
Former Raiders tight end Todd Christensen, who faced both Lott and Easley, said Easley was the better safety. “It goes without saying what Ronnie did in his career. But in all candor — and this is no knock on Ronnie — Kenny Easley was a better football player.”
And now Easley finally has joined Lott in the Hall, with fellow Hawks Largent, Jones and Kennedy. Seattle went nearly 20 seasons before Largent broke the franchise’s Hall of Fame maiden in 1995. Then the team went another 17 years before getting another player in — and now has placed three players in the last six classes (Kennedy in 2012, Jones in 2014, Easley in 2017).
So, what does the future look like? A few other one-time Seahawks — notably Kevin Mawae and Steve Hutchinson — have decent shots at the Hall.
The current crew has several players who are buiding their resumes. Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are headed in the right direction, needing about three or four more years of All-Pro play to be strong contenders, and Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner could join them in the conversation. Their statures, like Terrell Davis’, would be bolstered by another Super Bowl win or two.
In the meantime, the Seahawks finally have their Hall of Fame Rushmore with Largent, Kennedy, Jones and Easley.