Maybe, now that we know quarterback Russell Wilson won’t play his entire career with the Seahawks, some will debate his place in their history.

Some who have followed the franchise’s every moment since it entered the NFL in 1976 might side with Steve Largent, who ended his career with the team in 1989 holding virtually every league receiving record there was, as the greatest Seahawk ever.

Maybe some will side with Walter Jones, among the best left tackles in NFL history and the guiding force of Seattle’s first Super Bowl in 2005.

More

Both are players whose Seattle reputations remain unsullied by an unhappy ending.

But the view here is that shocking as Tuesday’s trade is, Wilson leaves Seattle as, for now, the most important and vital player in team history.

Sure, the Seahawks were an ascending team when he arrived in 2012, with the bulk of the famed Legion of Boom and running back Marshawn Lynch already in place, winning five their last eight games in 2011.

Advertising

But it was Wilson who proved to be not only the missing piece but the key one to a team that captured what remains the city’s only Super Bowl victory. He led Seattle to one of the most dominant victories in the game’s history, 43-8 over Denver following his second season.

That was the high-water mark of a 10-year run in which Seattle made the playoffs eight times and won 105 regular-season games — 10.5 per season.

And for the talk that the LOB carried Wilson, he also led the Seahawks to 10, 11 and 12 victories in 2018, 2019 and 2020 after the bulk of those players were gone, all the proof anyone should need of what he meant to the Seahawks.

So to an even larger question if you agree Wilson is the most important Seahawk ever — is he the most important Seattle athlete ever?

Lenny Wilkens’ arrival in 1969 helped validate the Sonics and led to his return as coach in 1978, which subsequently led to Seattle’s only NBA title.

Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp then helped revive the Sonics in the mid-90s after an ‘80s lull, creating what might have been the most entertaining team in their history.

Advertising

Ken Griffey Jr. finally gave Mariners fans something to legitimately cheer for when he made his MLB debut in 1989, and his heroics in 1995 helped save baseball in Seattle.

He was far from alone that year, but it’s not hyperbole to say that without Griffey, baseball might have left Seattle before it really got a chance.

Ichiro then arrived to lift Seattle out of its post-Griffey/Alex Rodriguez hangover and led the Mariners to the most successful regular season in baseball history.

Sue Bird’s run of 21 consecutive years with the Storm is a mark of longevity that might never be matched.

And as a face of a college team — where the players come and go too frequently to really compare in importance to long-tenured professional players — what coach Don James meant to the Washington football program, pulling it out of its mid-70s doldrums at a time when it faced unprecedented competition for fan attention with the arrival of the Seahawks and Mariners, might put him on a par in his own way with the players listed above.

But given the nature of the importance of the position Wilson plays as well as the hold the NFL has on fans — the Super Bowl victory over Denver drew a 92% share of the TV audience in Seattle, the largest in the city’s history — a case always will be there for him as the most important Seattle athlete ever.

Advertising

Sadly, Wilson’s story also continues a history of the Seattle tenures of many of the city’s best athletes ending in anything but fairy-tale fashion — the likes of Wilkens, Payton, Kemp, Griffey and Ichiro all unceremoniously traded amid increasingly fraying relationships with their teams.

And you may hardly need reminding that it also keeps the unhappy tradition alive of equally unceremonious endings for many of the key members of the 2013 team — Richard Sherman limping off the field in Arizona in 2017 and then released a few months later; Earl Thomas carted off that same field the following year while flashing an obscene gesture at coach Pete Carroll.

Now Wilson, who for years figured to be the last one standing in Seattle from that team, has been stunningly traded after a year of rumors and innuendo — that obviously had far more substance than everyone might have hoped — about an increasingly strained relationship with the Seahawks.

Both of Wilson’s negotiations for contract extensions with the Seahawks in the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2019 were far more contentious than many realized. The latter wrapped up only minutes before an April 15 deadline imposed by Wilson’s camp and after the Seahawks agreed to a no-trade clause, the first in team history (a decision that ended up proving pivotal as Denver was said to be the only team of three offers Seattle had to which he would approve a deal).

That 2019 contract came a few months after Wilson’s camp bristled at reports that general manager John Schneider had been scouting Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, a year after it was reported the Seahawks would have drafted Patrick Mahomes if he had fallen to them in the 2017 draft.

The relationship seemed to increasingly wither from there, with Wilson making surprising remarks a year ago about his frustration with his pass protection and a report that said he would approve a trade to one of four teams.

Sponsored

That things seemed quieter this year led some to believe he would stay for at least another year, before things would come to a head in 2023 with one year left on his contract.

But there was also a thought that Wilson was uncomfortable with how public and drawn-out the discussion of his future was last year and wanted a quieter and quicker resolution this year.

It arrived shockingly and suddenly Tuesday, and the emotions evoked for all might take a while to cool.

But as the returns of the likes of Wilkens, Griffey and Ichiro proved, time heals all wounds. One day Wilson and the Seahawks surely will gather for his uniform No. 3 to take its rightful place in the rafters of Lumen Field.