The Seatttle Seahawks may have won only one Super Bowl Championship, but they have still had a rich history throughout their 44-year stay in the NFL. Let’s take a look at the five jersey numbers the team has retired, and the players behind them.
#96 – DT Cortez Kennedy
Kennedy’s jersey was retired in 2012, the same year he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Drafted third overall in 1990, Kennedy spent his entire 11-year career with Seattle, totaling 669 tackles and 58 sacks. He made eight Pro Bowls, five All-Pro teams, and was the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named to the league’s All-Decade team. He was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006, and six years later his No. 96 was retired. Kennedy sadly passed away in 2017 at the age of 48.
#80 – WR Steve Largent
A fourth-round pick in 1976 by the Houston Oilers, Largent would never play a regular season game for Houston. He was set to be cut after the preseason, but the Oilers found a trade partner, sending Largent to the brand new Seattle football team for a 1977 eighth-rounder.
It ended up being the best trade in Seahawks history. Largent played 14 seasons, catching 819 passes for 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns. At the time of his retirement after the 1989 season, Largent was the NFL’s all-time leader in catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, although he has since been passed by multiple players in each category. Over his career, Largent made seven Pro Bowls, five All-Pro teams, and is a member of the NFL’s 100-Year Anniversary All-Time Team.
In 1992, Largent became the first Seahawk to have his jersey retired, and three years later he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When Jerry Rice played for Seattle in 2004, Largent granted him permission to use his No. 80 jersey.
#71 – LT Walter Jones
Drafted sixth overall in 1997, Jones played 12 years for the Seahwks, and is one of the best offensive lineman in the history of the game. He made nine Pro Bowls, six All-Pro teams, the 2000’s All-Decade Team, and the 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. Injuries forced him to retire after the 2008 campaign, and his No. 71 was retired in 2010. Four years later, he became a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and served as Seattle’s honorary captain for their Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the Denver Broncos. Joe Thomas, Anthony Munoz, Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden, and Jones are widely considered to be the five best left tackles of all time, and you can’t really go wrong in ranking them any which way.
#45 – SS Kenny Easley
Easley spent only seven seasons in the NFL, but his play was so good that he made the Hall of Fame anyway. Selected fourth overall in 1981, Easley made five Pro Bowls, five All-Pro Teams, and was the 1984 Defensive Player of the year. His time with the Seahawks didn’t end well, as he was a key figure in the 1987 player strike, and was eventually shopped around for a quarterback. He was eventually traded to the Arizona Cardinals before a failed physical vetoed the deal.
That physical revealed serious kidney damage that Easley blamed on the Seattle medical staff prescribing him large amounts of Advil. Easley and the organization managed to set aside their differences in 2002, and Easley’s No. 45 was retired. In 2017, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
#12 – FAN
In 1984, the No. 12 was retired in honor of the Seahawks fanbase. The “12th man” refers to the advantage (imaginary or otherwise) that the home team receives from the crowd’s noise and energy. Before every game, the No. 12 flag is raised, most often by a celebrity, season ticket holder, or former player. The fan base owns the record for loudest sporting event, reaching an incredible 137.6 decibels at CenturyLink Field in 2013.
Seattle doesn’t use the term “12th man” much anymore, as the team was involved in a legal battle with Texas A&M, which coined the phrase back in 1922. But the impact remains; CenturyLink Field was specifically designed to hold and amplify crowd noise. Seahawks fans pride themselves on making life difficult for opposing offenses, to the point where opponents averaged 2.36 false starts per game. Teams have been known to practice with the recorded sounds of jet engines playing just to prepare for the atmosphere they must face. It’s a true home-field advantage for the Seahawks, and that’s thanks to their fans.