Based on an estimate of five hours per game, the odds of an
earthquake's rumbling through the Kingdome while Seahawks fans
are seated inside are one in 1,019. Those are, coincidentally,
also the approximate odds of Seattle's winning the Super Bowl
Natural disasters and the Seahawks became infamously linked in
February when owner Ken Behring announced that he was moving the
franchise to Los Angeles, largely out of fear that an earthquake
would devastate Seattle. Behring, who amassed his fortune as a
real-estate developer, later added that the Seahawks would play
their '96 home games in the Rose Bowl, which rests just 105
miles west of the San Andreas Fault.
Aftershocks in the Pacific Northwest swiftly followed. "The idea
of going to Southern California for a lower seismic hazard is
the same as moving to Florida because you're trying to avoid
hurricanes," said John Magnusson, CEO of the engineering firm
that constructed the Kingdome 20 years ago.
Fortunately for Seattle coach Dennis Erickson--a Washington
native who in 1995 fled Florida and the Miami Hurricanes to
return home--the Seahawks will remain in Seattle this season
and, most likely, for a long time to come. On April 20 Microsoft
cofounder Paul Allen, who was born and raised in Seattle,
acquired a 14-month option to buy the team from Behring. The
43-year-old Allen, the fourth-richest man in America, has a
projected net worth of $6.4 billion, or three times the NFL's
collective revenue last season. Allen has pledged to keep the
franchise in town should he exercise his option next July.
With Allen's involvement, Erickson should continue to move the
Seahawks--who went 6-2 over the second half of last
season--toward terra firma. Offensively, this is a team on the
rise. Running back Chris Warren enjoyed his fourth straight
1,000-yard season in '95 and, at 28, is in the prime of his
career. Last year wideout Joey Galloway became the first rookie
to gain 1,000 yards receiving since the Colts' Bill Brooks and
the Oilers' Ernest Givins, in 1986.
The offensive line, anchored by center Kevin Mawae, has staying
power. Left tackle James Atkins, a former practice-squad player,
moved into the lineup for good when Ray Roberts underwent ankle
surgery last August. Atkins performed so well that Roberts, the
team's first-round draft choice in '92, was allowed to sign with
Detroit in March. Lining up to the right of Atkins is Pete
Kendall, Seattle's 1996 No. 1 pick out of Boston College.
Offensive line coach Howard Mudd installed the 6'5", 292-pound
former tackle as the starter at left guard on the first day of
minicamp in April.
One major offensive concern, however, is the performance of
quarterback Rick Mirer. The fourth-year player seemed to regress
last season, throwing nearly three times as many interceptions
as he did in 1994. In 42 starts as a pro Mirer has yet to throw
for 300 yards in a game. Even so, Erickson has been nothing but
supportive of his quarterback. Says the coach, "I tell everyone
that it's just a matter of time until he's a star in this league."
In a grueling scheduling twist, Seattle will make three
cross-country visits to Florida this season: Sept. 22 at Tampa
Bay, Oct. 6 at Miami and Dec. 15 at Jacksonville. The frequent
contrasts between Seattle's gloom and Florida's sunshine might
remind the Seahawks of the disparity between their promising
offense and woeful defense. Last season, despite facing off
against five of the NFL's eight worst offenses, Seattle
surrendered 354 yards per game (sixth worst in the league). In
March team president David Behring, Ken's son, complained that
five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, the
cornerstone of the defense, was "fat, lazy and lacks leadership."
Such mean-spirited comments by management are unlikely to be
heard should Allen buy the team. "I'm doing this to help the
community, the city and the fans," says Allen, who also owns the
Portland Trail Blazers, "not because it's a great financial
That's something he can afford to say. Two days after he inked
the option deal with Behring, Microsoft stock soared $3 per
share, netting Allen $167 million. What will he do with the
windfall? In Seattle? Save it for a rainy day.
COLOR PHOTO: STEPHEN DUNN/ALLSPORT Kennedy will have to shake off a "fat and lazy" tag and lift Seattle's sagging defense. [Cortez Kennedy]
BY THE NUMBERS
1995 Yards per Game (NFL rank in parentheses)
Rushing Passing Total
OFFENSE 136.1 (3) 193.3 (22) 329.4 (13)
DEFENSE 133.1 (28) 221.2 (18) 354.3 (25)
Rushing to Nowhere
Chris Warren had his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing
season in 1995; he is one of 20 players in NFL history to have
accomplished that feat. But Warren is the only player ever to
have four straight 1,000-yard years for a team that failed to
achieve a winning record in any of those years. The only other
player who has had even three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for
a nonwinning team was Atlanta's Gerald Riggs, from 1984 to '86.
Chris Warren's Rushing Totals and Seattle's Records over Last
Season Att. Yds. Avg. W-L
1995 310 1,346 4.3 8-8
1994 333 1,545 4.6 6-10
1993 273 1,072 3.9 6-10
1992 223 1,017 4.6 2-14
PLAYER TO WATCH
When the free-agent signing period started, on Feb. 16, Seattle
coach Dennis Erickson immediately sought out Bengals free safety
Darryl Williams. Less than 48 hours later, the fifth-year pro,
who played for Erickson in college at Miami, was a Seahawk. Now
Eugene Robinson, who has started for Seattle at free safety for
the last 10 seasons, can move to strong safety, where his
run-stopping talents will be maximized. "Dennis was a big factor
in my decision," says Williams. "He's a players' coach."
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Head coach: Dennis Erickson
QB Rick Mirer 391 att. 209 comp. 53.5% 2,564 yds. 13 TDs 20 int. 63.7 rtg.
RB Chris Warren 310 att. 1,346 yds. 15 TDs
FB Mack Strong 8 att. 23 yds. 1 TD
TE Carlester Crumpler 23 rec. 254 yds. 1 TD
WR Joey Galloway 67 rec. 1,039 yds. 7 TDs
WR Brian Blades 77 rec. 1,001 yds. 4 TDs
WR Mike Pritchard[*] 33 rec. 441 yds. 3 TDs
LT James Atkins 6'6" 303 lbs.
LG Pete Kendall (R)[*] 6'5" 292 lbs.
C Kevin Mawae 6'4" 296 lbs.
RG Derrick Graham[*] 6'4" 315 lbs.
RT Howard Ballard 6'6" 325 lbs.
PK Todd Peterson 40/40 XPs 23/28 FGs
LE Antonio Edwards 5 1/2 sacks 1 fum. rec.
LT Cortez Kennedy 6 1/2 sacks 0 fum. rec.
RT Glenn Montgomery[*] 2 sacks 2 fum. rec.
RE Michael Sinclair 5 1/2 sacks 2 fum. rec.
OLB Terry Wooden 0 sacks 1 int.
MLB Dean Wells 0 sacks 0 int.
OLB Winston Moss 2 sacks 1 int.
CB Carlton Gray 4 int. 0 sacks
SS Eugene Robinson 1 int. 0 sacks
FS Darryl Williams[*] 1 int. 1 sack
CB Corey Harris 3 int. 0 sacks
P Rick Tuten 83 punts 45.0 avg.
PR Joey Galloway 36 ret. 10.0 avg.
KR Steve Broussard 43 ret. 24.7 avg.
[*] New acquisition (R) Rookie (college statistics)