A measure of talent? No Hawks make Pro Bowl

  • Scott M. Johnson / Pro Football Report
  • Thursday, December 14, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Seattle Seahawks fans will undoubtedly, and regretfully, remember the years. Times like 1992, when the Hawks eked out just two victories in the franchise’s worst season. Or 1994, when Rick Mirer and Dan McGwire co-quarterbacked the team to a dismal 6-10 record.

Pretty bad teams, even when considering their predecessors.

Yet neither one of them accomplished what the 2000 Seahawks did on Thursday. For the first time in 20 years, Seattle failed to send a player to the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s postseason all-star game.

Not Chad Brown, who has been there three times in seven NFL seasons and was the heart and soul of the defense again this year. Not Anthony Simmons, who has a chance to break the franchise record for tackles in a season. Not Walter Jones, who took the trip to Hawaii last season and appeared destined for perennial Pro Bowl status.

Not even Cortez Kennedy, who had been there eight of the previous nine years.

How little talent is on this Seahawks roster? Perhaps we know now. Even Cincinnati (Corey Dillon), San Diego (Junior Seau), Arizona (Scott Player) and Dallas (Larry Allen) managed to sneak one player onto the team, while Seattle got shut out for the fourth time in franchise history.

We’re not here to argue with the league. We’re not blaming dangling chads or calling for a recount. Seattle didn’t deserve any bids. Brown, Simmons and Ricky Watters were the only players who have played at a Pro Bowl level this season, but they all play positions that had too many other prime-time performers.

Don’t feel sorry for Mike Holmgren, who got paid a tidy sum of money to inherit this team almost two years ago. The Big Show is partly responsible for the lack of stars. One guy he essentially let go, Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Sam Adams, will be going to the Pro Bowl as a starter.

This season has been filled with low points, but perhaps this is the lowest. The only other teams to get shut out in the Pro Bowl voting were Chicago, Atlanta, New England and Cleveland. That’s not the kind of company you’d want to invite over for dinner.

Couldn’t the voters find room for someone? Charlie Rogers was leading the AFC in punt return average, but got edged out by kickoff return leader Derrick Mason of Tennessee. Miami’s Larry Izzo made the team as a special teams specialist, even though 11 of Seattle’s special teamers have more tackles. How about giving Seattle a courtesy player, kind of like Bob Wickman of the Milwaukee Brewers or Ryan Dempster of the Florida Marlins?

The reality is, no players were deserving. Watters has certainly been the team MVP, but he ranks 10th in the AFC in rushing. It would have been a nice touch for Kennedy to go based on his career – he needs three more appearances to tie Reggie White for the all-time record (11) – but he didn’t play anywhere near the Pro Bowl level. And sending him to Hawaii again would have been unfair to, and at the expense of, someone like Adams.

“It’s the best guys who have had the best seasons, and I respect that,” Kennedy said. “I’m not disappointed. I’m just disappointed in where our season’s gone.”

On the other side of the locker room, Jones sat in a T-shirt that read, “O-line: Overworked and underappreciated.” It seemed to sum up his season.

“We didn’t make the playoffs and we didn’t have a good season. So guys might play well, but they’re not going to get the publicity,” Jones said. “If a guy’s winning and playing well, they’re going to vote for that guy.”

Funny thing about this Mike Holmgren era. In a matter of months, he’s turned a division champion into a team without stars. Even Tom Flores and Dennis Erickson sent players to the Pro Bowl every year.

Seahawks fans hope it’s a one-year aberration. Simmons and Jones have what it takes to be annual Pro Bowlers in years to come. Brown is still in the prime of his career. Young players like Lamar King, Shaun Alexander and Chris McIntosh have only scratched the surface.

For this year at least, the Seahawks have the kind of ho-hum talent that is starting to make 1992 look better and better.

  • Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium

  • TV/radio: CBS (Channel 7); KIRO radio (710 AM)

  • Stars to watch: Raiders – QB Rich Gannon is a bona fide MVP candidate based on his 91.4 quarterback rating, the AFC’s third-best. WR Tim Brown, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, has five touchdown receptions in his past three games against the Seahawks. G Steve Wisniewski and CB Charles Woodson will join Gannon at the Pro Bowl.

    Seahawks – QB Jon Kitna has a respectable 85.6 quarterback rating the past four weeks. RB Ricky Watters needs 184 yards to move into 12th place on the all-time rushing list. LB Anthony Simmons needs 23 tackles in the final two games to tie Terry Beason’s franchise season record of 153. P Jeff Feagles will tie former Raider Ray Guy on Saturday with 207 consecutive games, the league record for punters.

  • Breaking down the game: There are myriad reasons why this shouldn’t be another 31-3 blowout like the last meeting. But there are just as many reasons why the Raiders should win again.

    Seattle’s run defense has improved recently, and it can’t give up 156 yards to Tyrone Wheatley again. The pass defense, ranked last in the NFL, has to pressure Rich Gannon and contain Tim Brown.

    There are simply too many hurdles for the Seahawks to overcome in this one, meaning Oakland could come away needing one more win to wrap up its first AFC West title in 10 years.

  • Pick: Raiders, 34-27.

  • Injury report: Raiders – RB Napoleon Kaufman (knee) and RB Jon Ritchie (ankle) are doubtful; CB Darrien Gordon (toe), DT Grady Jackson (shoulder), S Eric Johnson (shoulder), and RB Randy Jordan (toe) are questionable. Seahawks – DE Lamar King (shoulder) is out; S Jay Bellamy (back) and QB Brock Huard (bruised kidney) are questionable.

  • Little-known fact: The last time the Raiders played a game at Husky Stadium was Aug. 17, 1963, when Oakland and Kansas City played an exhibition game there.

  • Washington (7-7) at Pittsburgh (7-7), 9:30 a.m. Saturday: These teams’ playoff hopes are only slightly better than were Al Gore’s chances of winning the election. They haven’t conceded yet, but … Pick: Redskins, 27-10.

  • Detroit (8-6) at New York Jets (9-5), 10 a.m. Sunday: Once playoff locks, these teams are suddenly on the outside looking in. The losing team may have to find a back door. Pick: Lions, 17-13.

  • St. Louis (9-5) at Tampa Bay (9-5), 6 p.m. Monday: How far we’ve come since last season’s NFC Championship. Neither team looks headed for that game this season, but the Rams look ready to turn it on. Pick: Rams, 20-16.

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