Seattle Seahawks: 10 Best Running Backs in Team History
Though they're perhaps best known as a passing team—their only true Hall of Fame member is a wide receiver, after all—the Seahawks have still had a number of great running backs in their 30-plus seasons in the NFL.
From silver to Seahawks blue, from the AFC to the NFC, from the Kingdome to CenturyLink Field, here's my look at the best to come out of the backfield in the Pacific Northwest.
10. David Sims
Sims is remembered almost as much for what could have been, as for what was.
His NFL career was curtailed by a neck injury; but in three seasons in Seattle, the Georgia Tech-trained fullback rushed for 1,174 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. His best season was his second, when he ran for a career-high 752 yards and 14 scores, before his time as player was derailed after just three games in 1979.
Sims also caught 46 passes for 399 yards and four TDs as a Seahawk, and completed three of seven passes with one score. His 15 total scores in 1978 led the NFL.
9. Mack Strong
With Strong, it wasn't about rushing stats so much as intangibles. His primary responsibility as a fullback was as a blocker—he spent his 14-year NFL career, all in Seattle, leading the way for Seahawk tailbacks, or blowing up linebackers who came after Seahawk quarterbacks.
The Georgia alumnus carried 230 times for 909 yards and five touchdowns in his Seahawks tenure, and also caught 218 passes for 1,456 yards and another 10 TDs. He played in two Pro Bowls and was also First Team All-NFL in 2005, the season the Seahawks finally broke through to the Super Bowl.
Forced to retire after five games in 2007 due to a herniated disc in his neck, he left his legacy as a true team player.
8. Dan Doornink (1979-1985)
Now a physician in Washington State, Doornink was one of the early all-purpose Seahawks. The eighth-leading rusher in team history, he gained 1,530 yards and scored 14 TDs in his Seattle career, and also caught 209 passes for 2,006 yards and 11 TDs.
Perhaps his greatest single moment came in a 1981 home win over San Diego on Monday Night Football, when his 80-yard catch-and-run at the Kingdome helped the Seahawks blast the Chargers by a 44-23 score.
The Wazoo alum's most productive rushing season as a Seahawk was his first, in 1979, when he gained 500 yards and tallied eight TDs. He also added 54 receptions that year for 432 yards and a score. He caught a personal-best four TD passes in 1981—including the one on national TV against the Chargers.
7. Maurice Morris (2002-2008)
Morris, the only NFL player still active on this list, is now with Detroit. He compiled 2,612 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his seven seasons in Seattle, and added 74 catches for 553 yards and four more scores.
A member of Seattle's Super Bowl XL squad, Morris's best campaign came in 2007 when he picked up 628 yards and four TDs, while catching 23 passes for 213 yards and a TD. He also ran 18 times for 49 yards as Seattle's feature back in a 2005 home playoff win over Washington, when Shaun Alexander was sidelined early in the game by a concussion.
An Oregon alum, Morris actually got his start with the Seahawks as a kick returner. In all, he returned 130 kickoffs for 2,858 yards and a touchdown, and he twice returned a career-high 47 kicks in a single season.
6. Sherman Smith (1976-1982)
The first true running back the franchise ever had, Smith was also the first Seahawk to rush for 100 yards in a single game. That came in a 30-13 win over Atlanta at the Kingdome in 1976, which was also Seattle's first-ever victory against an established NFL club.
Smith rushed for 3,429 yards and 28 touchdowns in his seven-year Seahawks career, and also caught 10 TD passes in his 82 games with Seattle. The Miami (Ohio) alumnus rushed for a career-high 805 yards for the Seahawks in 1978, and followed that up with a career-high 11 TDs in 1979.
He is now back in Seattle as the Seahawks running backs coach, after earlier NFL coaching stints with Houston/Tennessee and Washington.
5. John L. Williams (1986-1993)
Though Williams didn't get the ink as a fullback that backfield running mate Curt Warner did, he was tough and reliable.
He ran for a career-high 877 yards and four TDs in 1988, and in his Seattle career ran for 4,579 yards and 17 scores. I still remember a run he had down the right sideline at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day in 1986, as the Seahawks throttled the Dallas Cowboys, 31-14.
A Florida alum and a two-time Pro Bowl choice, Williams finished his playing career with two seasons with Pittsburgh, and played his final NFL game in Super Bowl XXX. He also topped 5,000 rushing yards in his pro tenure.
4. Ricky Watters (1998-2001)
Watters rushed for 4,009 yards and 22 TDs in his Seahawk career, and led Seattle in rushing three times.
He came to Seattle after three seasons apiece with San Francisco and Philadelphia, and rushed for 1,239 yards and nine scores his first season as a Seahawk in 1998. He outdid that rushing mark by three yards in 2000; and he hauled in 166 passes for another 1,480 yards and four TDs in his four seasons at the Kingdome and Husky Field.
A five-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro, Watters won a national championship in college with Notre Dame, and later added a Super Bowl title with the 49ers, the latter a game in which he scored three touchdowns.
3. Chris Warren (1990-1997)
Warren led Seattle in rushing in six of the eight seasons he played in the Pacific Northwest.
His best season was in 1994, when he rushed for a career-high 1,545 yards, although he scored a personal-best 15 TDs on the ground the following year. He also caught 194 passes for 1,342 yards and three scores as a Seahawk. In all, he rushed for 6,706 yards and 44 TDs in Blue and Green.
On special teams, he returned 94 punts for 819 yards and a score, and also brought back 86 kickoffs for another 1,794 yards. He was also a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and was twice named All-Pro.
Warren, who played in college at Virginia and then Ferrum, finished his NFL career in 2000 with Dallas and Philadelphia.
2. Curt Warner
The first 1,000-yard rusher in Seahawks history, Warner topped the millenium mark four times in his career, and led Seattle in rushing six times.
He ran for a career-high 1,481 yards in 1986, along with 13 touchdowns. His Seattle totals included 6,705 rushing yards and 55 TDs, along with 193 receptions for 1,467 yards and seven scores.
Those totals would have been even higher if not for a knee injury the Penn State product sustained in the 1984 opener at the Kingdome. His mishap on a Monday afternoon against Cleveland cost him that entire season, after just 10 rushes and one reception.
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Warner is also a member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor, the only running back so feted.
1. Shaun Alexander (2000-2007)
The all-time leading Seahawks rusher and the 2005 NFL Most Valuable Player, Alexander is definitely it when it comes to Seattle running backs. His 9,453 rushing yards are far and away a franchise-best, and his 100 career touchdowns ties him with Seahawks Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent.
Alexander ran for a career-best and league-high 1,880 yards and 27 TDs in 2005, leading Seattle to its first ever Super Bowl, and also strung together five consecutive campaigns of 1,175 rushing yards or more. He twice had scoring runs of 88 yards in his career, and ran for 100 or more yards in a game 37 times.
As a second-year NFL player out of Alabama in 2002, he rushed 35 times for 266 yards in a 34-27 win over Oakland, and also ran for 201 yards in a 34-24 victory over Green Bay in 2006, He ran for four scores in a game three times, versus Minnesota in 2002, and against both Arizona and Houston in 2005.
Alexander was also effective out of the backfield, and caught 214 passes for 1,511 yards and 12 TDs as a Seahawk. His best receiving season came in 2003 when he nabbed 42 passes for 295 yards and two scores. He had a career-high four scoring grabs in 2004, and also had an 80-yard TD catch in 2002.
Though his career ended ignominiously with the Redskins in 2008 after he had been worn down by foot and hand injuries (and possibly the Madden Curse), number 37 will best be remembered as a three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time all-Pro and the No. 1 rusher in Seahawks history—and undoubtedly one day an inductee into the Seahawks Ring of Honor. The Hall of Fame might not be out of the question, either.
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