The former Seahawks standout left guard is considered to have a good chance at election to the Hall Saturday in what is his second year on the ballot.
The nine players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played for the Seahawks have always been pretty neatly divided.
There are the four who spent their entire careers with the Seahawks — Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, Walter Jones and Kenny Easley — the “Four Horsemen” of Seattle football, if you will, four players who forever will define the pre-Pete Carroll era of the franchise’s existence.
And then there are the five who played no more than three years with Seattle and some less than a season — Jerry Rice, Franco Harris, Carl Eller, John Randle and Warren Moon.
As a reminder, unlike in baseball where players can go in the Hall of Fame representing one specific team, players in the Pro Football Hall have busts on a stand that includes a plaque that lists every team with which they played. So players don’t make a choice to represent one team over another, their legacies theoretically intertwined with every team with which they suited up.
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But in the case of the nine listed above, it’s obvious — four are Seahawks, and the other five are, well, not really.
Randle and Moon each had a few nice moments in Seattle, each making one Pro Bowl as a Seahawk. But they were each already Hall of Famers long before coming to Seattle. And the other three are barely remembered outside of Seattle as ever even having been Seahawks.
Which brings us to the case of Steve Hutchinson, who could be the first Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who didn’t play his entire career in Seattle — or even the majority of it — but has let it be known that he considers himself a Seahawk first and hopes everyone else will, as well.
Hutchinson, a first-round pick of Seattle in 2001 who then played in the NFL through 2012, is in his second year as one of the 15 modern-era finalists on the ballot and one of 18 total (a list that includes former Seahawks coach Tom Flores, who won two Super Bowls with the Raiders, and another offensive lineman drafted by Seattle, center Kevin Mawae, who played just four of his 16 NFL seasons with the Seahawks).
Eight are expected to be elected when the 48 Hall voters meet on Saturday, and probably five of the modern-era finalists.
Hutchinson is considered by most to have a good shot at making it in after having been one of the 10 finalists last season before missing out on the final cut.
Safety Ed Reed and tight end Tony Gonzalez are considered basically locks to get in, leaving Hutchinson battling the rest for one of the final three spots.
But a resume that includes seven Pro Bowl invites, five All-Pro nods and being named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s has Hutchinson seen as likely to get in sooner rather than later.
And while he doesn’t have to officially choose to represent any one team, Hutchinson said last year if he could, he’d like to be remembered most as a Seahawk.
“If I had a choice, I would put the Seahawks logo on it,’’ Hutchinson told Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone last year.
If you’re wondering how the team feels about that, the answer arrived this week in what has been a pretty-concerted campaign via Twitter by the Seahawks to pump up Hutchinson’s candidacy.
The Seahawks sent out seven tweets in the first three days of this week on its official PR account — one theoretically seen by many who will vote Saturday — with stats and quotes praising Hutchinson, including one from former Seattle coach Mike Holmgren calling him “the best guard’’ he ever saw.
“He was one of my favorite players ever,’’ Holmgren was quoted as saying in a tweet sent by the Seahawks. “He still is.’’
Many Seahawks fans with long memories may think differently.
Hutchinson was undoubtedly great in his five years with the Seahawks, teaming with Walter Jones to form a left side of the offensive line that was the best in the NFL for a few years, if not one of the best in league history. Together, the two helped lead Shaun Alexander to one of the greatest rushing seasons ever in 2005 — his 27 rushing touchdowns that season remains the second-most in NFL history — and powered the team to its first Super Bowl.
The problem is that the good times ended there.
The Seahawks infamously slapped only a transition tag on Hutchinson as he entered free agency in 2006, opening the door for another team to potentially swoop in. The Vikings did, handing him the equally infamous (in Seattle, anyway) contract for $49 million that included a “poison pill’’ provision requiring Hutchinson to be the highest-paid offensive lineman on his team, something that would not happen in Seattle with Jones around (such a tactic is no longer allowed).
So that sent him off to Minnesota, where he spent six years, and was named All-Pro three more times, before ending his career in 2012 with one season in Tennessee.
That Hutchinson initially named his Twitter account @poisonpill76 didn’t help soothe the feelings of spurned Seahawks fans who will always wonder what might have been had he stayed in Seattle. Within three years of the initial Super Bowl the Seahawks were again a losing team and Holmgren done as coach after 2008.
“For the record, I did not want to leave Seattle,’’ Hutchinson told the Times last year.
But business was business — he had averaged $1.5 million in his first five years in Seattle before suddenly being handed a contract by the Vikings that included a $16 million signing bonus.
“At the end of the day, I didn’t have an option,’’ he said.
The Seahawks have made their peace with it, having invited Hutchinson back to raise the 12th Man flag in 2016 and promoting his Hall of Fame candidacy, each side deciding to focus on the fact he’d have never been a potential Hall of Famer if not for his time in Seattle.
Now to see if a possible Hall of Fame coronation will allow Seattle fans to welcome him back fully into the Seahawks family.