They’re both first-ballot Hall of Famers with Super Bowl rings on their fingers.
They’re both shoo-ins for the Seahawks Ring of Honor once they hang ’em up.
One will go down as one of top athletes in Seattle pro sports history. The other will go down as one of the best linebackers of his generation.
Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner are two of the greatest to ever lace ’em up in Seattle. The QB has eight Pro Bowl appearances and the LB seven. What they haven’t done, however, is make a deep playoff run as the principal players on their respective sides of the ball. Their legacies as all-timers is secure, but that doesn’t mean their résumés are gapless.
What do you think of when you reminisce about those Seahawks teams that reached the Super Bowl twice last decade? On defense, it’s likely the Legion of Boom, headed by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. And though Wilson was much more than a game-manager, a prime Marshawn Lynch highlighted the offense that consistently wore defenders down.
It was Sherman and crew who landed the cover of Sports Illustrated. And it was Lynch who powered Seattle to the top of the NFL in rushing yards.
Now, however, there is no question whose offense or defense it is. But since that’s been the case, just what have the Seahawks done?
Well, there’s little doubt they’ve emerged as one of the most consistent regular-season teams in the league. Not since 2011 have they finished with a losing record, and just once in the past nine seasons have they missed the playoffs. But they haven’t made it to their conference championship game in seven years, and have just one playoff win in their past four seasons.
That’s not quite mediocre, but it’s perilously close.
So how much does this fall on Wilson or Wagner? Tough to say, really.
Wilson has put up MVP-like numbers in the first halves of the past two seasons before tapering off, but he was awful in last January’s playoff loss to the Rams. Wagner has been as reliable as just about any player in football, but a middle linebacker can only have so much impact on the entire D.
How many years do they have left in their primes? (Wilson is 32 and Wagner 31,) Also tough to say. But being able to say they were the front men for a title team is still on the to-do list.
Wilson isn’t likely to talk about this, of course. He’ll tell you that winning is winning and it doesn’t matter who was the catalyst. But all competitors — particularly ones as dedicated to the craft as Wilson — care about individual accolades to some extent. In fact, Wilson was pretty straightforward about this last year when he said “I want to be MVP.”
Wagner is generally a bit more brash. A couple of years ago, after Thomas and Chancellor were officially off the team, a reporter asked him if he was now “the guy” on the Seahawks’ defense.
Replied a smiling Wagner: “I’ve been the guy.”
It’s hard to say what kind of ripple effect that infamous interception in the Super Bowl vs. the Patriots has had on the Seahawks. A budding dynasty just hasn’t had the impact on the league the way it seemed like it would seven years ago.
Maybe the last few seasons would have turned out the same regardless of the outcome of that game. It’s difficult to make a deep playoff run in the NFL no matter how high your level of talent.
But the truth is that for the Seahawks, it hasn’t been happening. They’ve basically been the Portland Trail Blazers of the NFL lately; a near guarantee to make the postseason, but a faint threat to actually win the tournament.
Again, it might not be fair to put this on Wilson and Wagner. But they are the faces of a franchise that has been struggling to meet its goals of late.
Sunday is the start of a season the 12s have been anticipating since January. Like the opening day of any sport, optimism will teem throughout the town.
Winning it all would spawn euphoria in hundreds of thousands of fans in the area. But for two guys on the roster, it would mean just that much more.