For 35 years it has sat there untouched, beyond the reach of Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl winners alike.
It’s a number unlikely to wow you, but it has remained atop the team’s record books for three and a half decades.
In 1985, Steve Largent tallied 1,287 receiving yards, which led the NFL and set a Seahawks record that has yet to be eclipsed. But just like he did to Budda Baker in Arizona, DK Metcalf is about to run it down.
Last year as a rookie, Metcalf rocked a Largent jersey in the Seahawks’ locker room after the first game of the season. The reason was clear: “He’s the GOAT receiver in Seattle,” Metcalf said, “so I’m trying to be just like him.”
Largent returned the admiration for Metcalf, comparing him to the NFL’s GOAT receiver, Jerry Rice.
“I think DK has the opportunity to do the same type of thing,” Largent said. “He’s bigger, stronger and runs better than Jerry. He’s a good wide receiver. Whether he’ll be a great wide receiver, that’s yet to be seen.”
Well, in year two of his career, Metcalf is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,180 — 70 behind Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. That means with three games to go, he needs just 108 yards to pass Largent.
It’s not a guarantee — he has had games this year in which he was held to 23, 28 and 46 yards — and there is always the threat of injury. But as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday, “It’d be hard to keep him from getting it.”
Metcalf wasn’t made available to the media this week, but Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was. He worked out with Metcalf in Mexico and California throughout the offseason, developing on-field chemistry and an off-the-field bond.
Thursday, Wilson was asked about the prospect of Metcalf surpassing Largent, and the signal caller was quick to gush about his prolific teammate.
“DK is a special player. Obviously he’s a freak athlete, but he’s super focused on the game in growing and building,” Wilson said. “He can make every catch, do everything you want him to do, and to be even in the same category as a guy like Steve Largent so early is a blessing in itself. And I know he’s definitely grateful for that. He has tons of respect for Steve as well. He always talks about him. And we want to be great together. Hopefully there’s a lot more things he can do along the road. Hopefully that won’t be the only record he breaks. And hopefully I can be a part of it for a long time with him.”
It seems absurd now that 63 players went before Metcalf in the 2019 draft. Yes, there were some concerns about a neck injury he suffered in college as well as his route-running, but few players at any position are as dynamic as him.
His 10 touchdown catches are fifth in the league. His 17.1 yards per reception are third (first among players with more than 1,000 receiving yards). And at 6 foot 4 and 230 pounds, he can deliver bone-crushing hits generally reserved for running backs.
In other words, the kind of guy that makes Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s job a lot easier.
There are sections on Schottenheimer’s call sheet that specifically try to get the ball to Metcalf. The reality, though, is those sections aren’t always necessary.
“Terrific player, and at times, to be honest, you don’t have to try to get him the ball,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s just the way the game goes. They isolate him where there’s a matchup that Russ sees and he’s so talented that the ball goes there and it’s like, ‘Boy, I wasn’t expecting it to go there’ and it does.”
Sunday, Metcalf will get a crack at the record against the Washington Football Team. Could be tough given that WFT is third in the league in passing defense. But if he does break the record, what will Largent himself think?
I asked him Friday via text. His response? One word, one jersey number, and an exclamation point.