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A sports team over the course of its history has many peaks and valleys. During their tenure with a team, there are certain figures that shine bright, brighter than all others. These figures are beacons during hard times or are imperative to the greatness of the good times. These players, coaches and front office personnel become synonymous with the team and the city it plays in.

Mount Rushmore was built on the symbol of freedom, liberty, and the power of a dream. The Seattle Seahawks have become one of the most consistent franchises when it comes to success both on and off the field.

There are very few who have etched themselves in team lore for all time. To find the four most influential figures one must use Seattle’s defining characteristics. Who should be the four heads of Seahawks Mount Rushmore?

Each face on Mount Rushmore represents a trait that that president exhibited. They include founding, growth, development, and preservation.

Seattle has grown its organization through community, character, consistency, and competitiveness. Each one of these men contains all those to the utmost degree. Through the grittiness and success in the 80’s to the struggles of the 90’s and into the championships most recently, Seattle has stayed true to who it is; a defensive minded, smash-mouth team who played with character but would stop at nothing to win.

Seahawks Mount Rushmore: The Four Most Influential People In Team History

Wide Receiver: Steve Largent

It took 14 years for the faces on Mount Rushmore to be completed, which is also how long Largent played with Seattle. He is known as the original Seahawks Hall of Famer.

Largent not only has an award named after him, he was the inaugural winner of the award, given annually to the Seahawk player who best exemplifies spirit, dedication, and integrity. In 1988, he became the only Seahawk to ever receive the NFL’s Man of the Year award. He has numerous charity organizations that concentrated on helping mentor young children and continued his work as a public servant as a member of Congress after he retired from the NFL.

In his lengthy career, he made seven pro bowls, he was a three-time first-team All-Pro and a four-time second-team All-Pro. He also retired as the all-time leader in receptions (819), touchdown receptions (100), and yards receiving (13,089). Those numbers landed him in the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1995 and he was the first Seahawk to have his number 80 retired.

An expansion team starting in 1976, Largent helped lead the Seahawks to the franchise’s first AFC title game in 1983. He amassed 197 starts in his pro career, setting a then-record 177 consecutive games with a reception.

Surprisingly Largent wasn’t drafted by the Seahawks, although he played his entire career with the team. A star out of the University of Tulsa, Largent was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the fourth round but was traded at the end of preseason to Seattle. Largent was probably not going to make the Oilers team due to his 5-foot-11 frame, lack of speed and elite athletic ability. The Oilers were wrong. In his rookie year, Largent had 54 receptions, more than any receiver for Houston.

Largent attributes much of his career success to the preparation and the play of his teammates like one of his favorite quarterbacks Dave Krieg. Largent was humble and gave credit to others first with little to no mention of his character, heart, and sheer will. He also had the best hands and ran the best routes of any receiver of his generation and any before that.

Among all the games, numbers, and wins in this legendary career, there is one single moment that sums up Largent. Krieg led Largent with a pass over the middle right into the waiting defensive back Mike Harden. Harden knocked Largent out with an illegal hit that left the receiver with a concussion and two missing teeth.

Largent would get his revenge 14 weeks later when Harden intercepted a pass two yards deep in the end zone. Largent with all the fire and vengeance he had pent up ran him down and hit Harden so hard his feet left the ground and the ball squirted out, which Largent recovered. For the first time, Largent ran his mouth loud and proud, later saying that was his favorite play of his career.

Head Coach: Chuck Knox

Mount Rushmore was completed in October 1941, after 14 years of many twists and turns. It may not have ended up looking like the original blueprint, but that blueprint is the reason the monument was completed.

It took Seattle nearly 25 years after Knox left for them to win that first Super Bowl but it wasn’t without some of his influence. Knox’s style of a pounding ground game and elite defense (sound familiar?) earned him the nickname “Ground Chuck”.

While most new coaches can take a couple years to get their footing, Knox came in and turned around Seattle in his first season with the team, taking them to the AFC title game in 1983. Knox took them to the playoffs three more times over his nine years with the team, winning the Coach of the Year award in 1984 with a 12-4 record. This on the heels of the team only winning 14 games combined in the three years before Knox’s arrival.

The players he coached on defense included Hall of Famers Kenny Easley  and Cortez Kennedy. He worked with Seattle fan favorites Jacob Green, Joe Nash, Fredd Young, Eugene Robinson, and so many more. The reputation that Knox brought to Seattle made it a prime destination for free agents for well after his departure.

It is said that the billy goats that are so common and familiar to Mount Rushmore are actually imports from Canada as a gift. They, however, made it their home and grew. Knox may not have been the original coach, but like the billy goats, his reputation grew and became a mainstay.

After a lull in the 90’s the next great line of coaches, Mike Holmgren and Pete Carroll, (both of whom were considered for this list) reverted back to Knox’s style of defense, running the ball, great character, and had great success.

Knox is second in Seattle history with 80 wins, but Caroll will leave Seattle having passed Knox. Without Knox, the course of the franchise could have been completely different. There is no saying how long it would have been until they really found an identity. He may not have brought them to the promised land but he paved the way and put them on the map.

Offensive Tackle: Walter Jones

The local minors who did most of the work on Mount Rushmore had to walk up over 100 steps multiple times a day, every day. The only recordable stats you can find on the 13-year career of Jones is that he recovered three fumbles. The stats that can be attributed to Jones’ time in Seattle include a season of 1,880 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns. Shaun Alexander gets credit for those MVP numbers but they didn’t happen without Jones. All of Alexander’s 9,429 yards and 100 touchdowns in Seattle have a little to do with Jones.

Matt Hasselbeck has a Super Bowl appearance and a long successful career in Seattle, another stat for Jones. The greatest compliment an offensive lineman can get is to live vicariously through his teammates.

Jones does have plenty of accolades all his own. He was nine-time Pro Bowler, four times an All-Pro, and he was also listed as a member of the 2000 all-NFL decade team.

A master of technique, Jones managed to be called for only nine holding penalties in his 12-year career. If that’s not impressive enough, he only allowed 23 sacks in 5703 attempts.

Seattle retired number 71 in honor of Jones’ fine career with the team. Of all those numbers, the best is his 180 starts in 180 games played in his time with Seahawks.

A player cannot stay with a city that long and be so beloved without giving back to the community. Jones started the program 96 Check that to pay homage to his late friend Kennedy. This program checks in on former NFL players to make sure they know people are there for them. He also gives numerous contributions to the city and franchise working as a mentor to the team and spending a good portion of his time in Seattle.

Owner: Paul Allen

Through all the ups and downs in the construction of Mount Rushmore in the fourteen years it took, the most interesting is that the original designer did not complete the project. His son finished the monument.

Herman Sarkowski a former minority owner of the Seahawks was quoted in a Seattle Times article saying “I’m not sure anybody else in the community would have done what Allen did.” That’s when Allen bought the team in 1996 after the previous owner, Ken Behring threatened to move the team out of Seattle.

Allen is the native son of Seattle. His head should be on any monument to Seattle sports for saving this franchise, but he turned this team into a winner.

Before Allen purchased Seattle they had gone 12 straight years without a playoff victory. Since they have had three Super Bowl appearances and one Lombardi trophy.

Allen did that by bringing in smart football people with top-notch character. The way that he was able to convince Holmgren to leave the Packers to come to Seattle let the rest of the league know Allen was serious about winning. In 2010, the teaming up of Carroll and General Manager John Schneider put the team over the top.

The team focused on running the ball and defense, a familiar blueprint for the franchise. The bold moves of acquiring Marshawn Lynch and drafting Russell Wilson were immeasurable in the team’s recent success. A defense nicknamed the “legion of boom” and of course the fan base aptly named the “12th man” culminate to make this one of the most fun and exciting teams to watch year in and year out.

Allen also owns the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Sounders to corner the majority of the Northwest sports market. He turned the “charity” action of buying the Seahawks and keeping them in Seattle into a $1.34 billion dollar business.

Sports are not all Allen does. He is a philanthropist of epic proportions in the arena of arts, science, medical facilities, and education. He gives away a large amount of his $21.1 billion net worth to many worthy causes for the betterment of Seattle and the world.

The Seattle Seahawks organization and the four men in this article have added in a large way either through founding, growth, development, preserving, and maintaining their success. In a short period of time, the Seahawks have turned into a perennial powerhouse and they did it the right way.

Gerard O'Grodnick

Author Gerard O'Grodnick

A writer by trade and a sports fan by passion, I have been using print and the air waves along with a background in broadcast communication to combine the two for years.

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Sports Al Dente 2018