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Sports fans love to reminisce over the days that it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.
Into each Seattle Seahawks fan's life, a little rain must fall. But these days may have been the wettest: the trade in the team's infancy that allowed Dallas to draft Tony Dorsett; the sad tale of Ken Easley; the wasted first-round picks on quarterback flops Dan McGwire and Rick Mirer; the amazing disappearing draft of 1985; the Brian Bosworth era; and the salary-cap trade of fan favorite Eugene Robinson.
Going into their second year, the Seattle Seahawks were still building. Thus, in the mind of GM John Thompson, the building needed bricks, not ornamental trim that stood to get crushed behind an expansion offensive line. Dorsett probably felt the same way, which is why his agent allegedly put out word that Dorsett wouldn't play for Seattle.
| May 3,
| Seahawks trade No. 2 overall pick (RB Tony Dorsett) to Dallas for the No. 14 overall pick
(G Steve August) and three* second-round picks
(T Tom Lynch and LB Terry Beeson)
So even with Dorsett's NCAA rushing records and Heisman Trophy out there for the taking, the Seahawks went for quantity they could use over quality they likely would squander.
Tony Dorsett won the Super Bowl in his rookie year. Rick Stewart/Allsport|| |
The third second-round pick* acquired in the deal bounced around in a pair of other trades that day that resulted in C Geoff Reece (L.A. Rams), WR Duke Ferguson (Dallas) and LB Peter Cronan (draft) also coming to Seattle.
"People can argue whether what we did at Seattle was good or bad," former Seahawks front office member Bob Ferguson said years later, "but all I know is that those guys all ended up starting for us and we went 9-7 in our third year in the league."
True. August, Beeson, Cronan, Lynch and Ferguson combined to play 317 games in a combined 24 seasons. Nothing you'll find in the highlight films, but they were there when the Seahawks needed them.
Dorsett, however, ran for more than 1,000 yards in eight of his first nine seasons, led the league in rushing during the strike-shortened '82 season (when his string of 1,000-yard campaigns was broken), won two Super Bowls and retired as the second-leading rusher in NFL history behind Walter Payton.
In a matter of months, Kenny Easley went from being the Seahawks' biggest star to being cast off in a trade to being out of football forever and fighting for his life. He later underwent a transplant for a degenerative kidney allegedly caused by pain-relief medication from his playing days. A lawsuit against the Seahawks was settled out of court and perpetuated his alienation from the team to this day.
| S Kenny Easley announces his retirement
Start to finish, it might be one of the saddest stories in Seattle sports.
Kenny Easley was a five-time Pro Bowler. Rick Stewart/Allsport|
In a seven-year career, Easley picked off 32 passes, including 10 in 1984 to earn NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. That went up next to his 1981 award as the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year and his 1983 award for AFC Defensive Player of the Year.
His production tailed off, and after the 1987 season, Seattle tried to cash in on the five-time Pro Bowler by sending him to Phoenix for 23-year-old holdout quarterback Kelly Stouffer. But Easley failed his physical when tests showed kidney damage already in alarming stage.
The Seahawks ended up trading a slew of picks for Stouffer and Easley was left to retire in the uniform of a team he knew had tried to get rid of him -- not to mention the embarrassment of having another team's doctors find the cause of his ill-health instead of the team for which he had been risking his life.
Stouffer, by the way, was a bust for the Seahawks, throwing seven TDs and 19 INTs in five years.
|| 'Dear Ken': Belated Thank You
to Ex-Seahawk, a Man of Class
The Seattle Times -- May 6, 1990
By Steve Kelley
How are you doing? I don't mean that as some facile salutation. I think I speak for a lot of people in Seattle, friends and fans of yours, who want to know how you are doing.
We think of you this time of year as many of your former teammates are finishing minicamp and looking ahead to next season. We think of you in the early spring, because it was a little more than two years ago, April 22, 1988, that your trade to Phoenix was nullified, and we discovered the sad truth that you had a serious kidney problem.
We know about the physical examination you took for the Cardinals. You were ill and yet you were scoring as well on the treadmill as any of the Cardinal defensive backs. Then the results of your kidney tests came back, and the team doctor was so alarmed at the amount of poison in your system, he called paramedics.
We remember 1987, your last season in Seattle. The coaches were concerned that you had put on weight. They didn't think you looked or played like yourself. You heard the whispers. "Has Easley lost a step? Everybody knew you were having a sub-par season. Nobody bothered to ask why. Nobody bothered to consider a medical explanation. We can imagine your anger.
You were so concerned about your weight that you started a crash diet, lunches of nothing more than an apple and seltzer water. The weight stayed. It must have been frustrating.
But how are you doing now? A lot of people would like to know.
|| Jake, Atlanta, Ga.:
As a Seattle Seahawks fan, there is plenty of grief to spread around over the years -- and this is only the tip of the iceberg:
The day that Seattle tried to ship Kenny Easley, the heart and soul of our tremendous defenses of the late '80s and one of the most popular players ever, to the Cards for first-round bust QB Kelly Stouffer. Evidently, Easley holds resentment towards the team to this day, and it is one of the holdups into getting him into the team's Ring of Honor, where he deserves to be. That gets my vote for worst move ever.
History repeats itself, we all know that.
| April 21,
| Seattle selects QB Dan McGwire at No. 16 overall
| April 25,
| Seattle selects QB Rick Mirer at No. 2 overall
But c'mon ... about 13 centuries passed between the Roman and Ottoman empires, the stock market goes down only about once every 60 years ... even Liz Taylor puts five or six years between marriages.
In trying to find somebody to take the torch from Dave Krieg, the Seahawks got burned twice in three years.
McGwire, selected at No. 16 overall, started five games in four years and threw two touchdowns and six interceptions. You wonder if the Seahawks would have been a little happier with somebody like, oh, Brett Favre, who was taken at No. 33 by Atlanta (but that's a whole other story).
Dan McGwire hasn't exactly made the same impact on his sport as older brother Mark has on his. Earl Richardson/Allsport|| |
With McGwire clearly not progressing, the Seahawks again went for a quarterback in 1993. With the No. 2 overall pick, they felt pretty good about getting either Drew Bledsoe or Rick Mirer.
Of course they would have preferred Bledsoe, a graduate of Walla Walla High and a huge star at Washington State. But the Patriots nabbed Bledsoe, leaving Seattle to take Mirer -- marking the first time quarterbacks went 1-2 since 1971, when Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning and Dan Pastorini went 1-2-3.
Of course, farther down the '93 draft were QBs like Mark Brunnell (who only played college ball in the Seahawks' backyard for cryin' out loud!), and Elvis Grbac.
Still, after Mirer earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1993 by setting NFL rookie records for attempts (486), completions (274) and passing yards (2,833), the Seahawks probably felt like they had gotten the better of the draft. But Mirer's numbers steadily went down and his grasp of the NFL game never materialized. Bledsoe led the Patriots to the Super Bowl after the 1995 season ... then one year later, Mirer was traded to Chicago.
After his rookie of the year season, it was all downhill for Rick Mirer. Stephen Dunn /Allsport|
He has played on a different team in each of the past four seasons.
|| Seattle Rooters just want to say:
Thank You, Bears
Seattle Post-Intelligencer -- February 21, 1997
By Art Thiel
Rick Mirer can't throw the blasted ball.
At least so far. Apparently the Bears think he will, because they just bet a first-round pick and as much as $15 million in salary that the local boy is merely a victim of Steve Young Syndrome, i.e., a seven-year delay before coming upon Valhalla.
Or it could be that the Bears, achieving modest respectability last season under former Seahawk Dave Krieg, must presume that Seattle is the cradle of quarterbacks. Had the Bears been this shrewd before, the Seahawks could have picked up Mike Singletary for Kelly Stouffer, or Rashaan Salaam for Dan McGwire.
Perhaps in a city where Dennis Rodman is paid $9 million this season and Albert Belle $55 million over five years, the investment in Mirer will hardly be noticed. Then again, Rodman and Belle at least had a history of doing something.
Sure, some of those things involved wedding dresses and running down children in a vehicle. However, had Mirer directed the Seahawks to a touchdown inside the red zone, most fans wouldn't have cared if he enjoyed singing Broadway show tunes naked on the back of a captive orca.
|| Andrew Grossman, Denver, Colo.:
The biggest personnel mistake I can recall, having grown up as a Seahawks fan, was when Seattle let Dave Krieg leave after the 1991 season. They let a solid guy and a very dependable borderline Hall of Famer get away for nothing. In his absence they played some less-than-stellar QBs: Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, Stan Gelbaugh and Rick Mirer. They did eventually pick up Warren Moon, but the team was horrible for most of the 1990s. Krieg is the last quality franchise QB the Seahawks have had.
Every team has bad drafts. Every team blows one once in a while. But rarely does a team just not show up the way Seattle did in 1985.
| April 30-May 1
| Seattle selects (insert own joke here)
We won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that the first six players selected by Seattle -- fullback Owen Gill, wide receiver Danny Greene, tight end Tony Davis, center Mark Napolitan, cornerback Arnold Brown and running back Johnnie Jones -- combined to play six games for the Seahawks. Not in 1985. Total.
Granted, their first pick didn't come until No. 53, when they took Gill. But just for fun, here are some players that were chosen after that: Andre Reed, Kevin Butler, Herschel Walker, Kevin Greene, Mark Bavaro and Jay Novacek.
| June 12,
| Seattle selects LB Brian Bosworth in supplemental draft
There was so much we wanted to say about Brian Bosworth: the mohawk ... the warpaint, the truck (license plate "BO KNOWS") that ran over him on Monday Night Football ... the terrible, terrible movies. This was a oaf of such tremendous proportions that Barry Switzer couldn't stand him.
Brian Bos-not-worth-it. Scott Halleran /Allsport|
But after stumbling across the following Seattle Times column, there was nothing left for us to say about his 24-game, four-sack NFL career.
|| Boz: Was it All Part of Game Plan?
The Seattle Times -- July 22, 1990
By Steve Kelley
He left without even saying goodbye. This man who had so much to say when he arrived in the summer of 1987, drifted out of town like the fog, leaving Seattle, the Seahawks and the National Football League on little cat's feet.
Brian Bosworth was every promise that was never kept. He was every fad that never lasted. He was the lambada of linebackers. A Nehru jacket with shoulder pads. A hoola hoop, wearing No. 55. He was the last disco dance. The first pair of bell-bottomed pants.
Bosworth was a fraud, a lemon, a jerk, a 245-pound mouth.
He was billed as the next Dick Butkus, the next Sam Huff, the next Ray Nitschke. He was the next Ford Pinto. He was supposed to be a terror. Instead, he was terrible.
Now he's gone. He flunked his last football test last week, failing his Seahawk physical. The report said he had a bad shoulder. He also had bad knees, a bad attitude and a bad feel for the game.
He leaves behind a legacy of unanswered questions. Did he make his reputation bullying the meek Kansas States, Missouris and Iowa States of the Big Eight?
How much of a role did steroids play in his game? When he played at Oklahoma, was he as blown up as one of those balloons at the Macy's parade? Were the Seahawks fooled by a steroid-swollen Bosworth? In Seattle, he became the incredible shrinking linebacker.
Couldn't they have seen it coming? In an age when players are weighed, tested and measured like prize-winning cattle, shouldn't the Seahawks have been skeptical about his smallish 9 1/2 feet and little hands? He was supposed to be another Lawrence Taylor. How could so many NFL experts have been wrong?
With two young safeties both making over $1 million, it was no shock to 33-year-old Eugene Robinson that the Seahawks traded him. We can't speak for the thousands of fans who revered him in Seattle for 11 years.
| June 26,
| Seahawks trade S Eugene Robinson to Green Bay for DE Matt LaBounty
"As an athlete you think of Mickey Mantle ending up with the Yankees and Earl Campbell ending up with the Oilers, but with our game the way it is now, it just doesn't happen," Robinson said the day he was traded out of Seattle. "I would love to retire here, but you get in that old syndrome as a football player that you think you can play forever. You have to reconcile that you might have to play somewhere else."
Eugene Robinson was a stalwart in Seattle. Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport|
He is the franchise's all-time tackles leader and second all-time with 42 interceptions. But he wouldn't get to a Super Bowl until this trade sent him to Green Bay in time for their consecutive appearances. At least the Seahawks did that for him. He would make a third straight Super Bowl appearance with Atlanta in 1999.
Robinson had a long record of civic involvement in Seattle, although his reputation as a community leader took a big hit when he was arrested for solicitation of a prostitute on the eve of the 1999 Super Bowl.
|| Robinson Will Return -- in Ring of Honor
The Seattle Times -- June 28, 1996
By Blaine Newnham
The exit was gracious and uplifting, as sweet as his smile and honest as a game-saving tackle.
Eugene Robinson called a press conference to thank an organization, not scold it.
I kept looking into the eyes. So clear, so penetrating, so fearless. Few people are as comfortable with themselves and their surroundings.
"This is tough," Robinson said with a soft smile, "but it's OK. Really, it's OK."
Robinson left his mark on this franchise and community like no one other than Hall of Famer Steve Largent, 11 seasons of courageous and effective play, 11 seasons of selfless commitment to others.
The guy was great.
At the same time, the Seahawks were true to themselves in trading Robinson to the Green Bay Packers. They owe it to themselves, their players and their fans to assemble the best team they can. The future is with Darryl Williams and Robert Blackmon at safeties. Dennis Erickson knew it. So did Eugene Robinson.
"The problem for the Seahawks," Robinson said, in describing his trade and himself, "is that everybody likes this guy."
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