For much of the 2010s, the Seattle Seahawks defensive core was notorious for giving opponents fits on the football field. This ‘Legion of Boom,’ which consisted of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor, was responsible for many of the team’s most memorable victories.
Like all great sports pairings, however, this trio eventually split up, and the story behind it shows exactly why this had to happen.
The Legion of Boom
When Pete Carroll took over the Seattle Seahawks, he reinvigorated the franchise in a way that it had not seen in years. Its offense was beginning to take form behind its unlikely star, Russell Wilson, but its defense was on a whole different level.
Several stars came and went with the Seahawks defense, from K.J. Wright to Michael Bennett, but it was the Legion of Boom that had people talking.
In a world where people build their winning teams through high draft picks, the Legion of Boom was built off of amazing scouting and great coaching. Chancellor and Sherman were each fifth-round picks. Earl Thomas, on the other hand, was a first-round pick in 2010. Getting three defensive superstars like this in two drafts is unheard of regardless of their position, and the Seahawks made the most of it.
Behind the Legion of Boom, the Seahawks made it to two-straight Super Bowls in 2014 and 2015, winning the first one before losing heartbreakingly in the second Super Bowl.
The Legion of Boom was known around the league for its relentless defense. Nobody was safe from the mayhem they caused. Never one to stay silent for long, Sherman spoke about what drove the historic defense in 2014.
“The No. 1 motivation throughout these playoffs and in the Super Bowl was doubt,” Sherman said (per Sports Illustrated).
“Some said Denver’s offense would outgun us. They said nobody cares about defense anymore. But we wanted to cement our legacy as one of the best defenses to ever play in the NFL, and we did that.”
Fall of the Legion of Boom
Eventually, the Legion of Boom had to come back down to earth. The NFL is an unforgiving place for players who play as hard as they did, and injury and age began to take their toll.
The Seahawks never returned to the Super Bowl after their heartbreaking loss to the Patriots, and after all three players suffered from injuries, it was clear that times were changing.
Sherman was the first one to go. His rocky relationship with the organization was a slow burn to the end. After an Achilles injury in 2017, he was cut from the team and joined the rival 49ers. It might come to nobody’s surprise, however, that the 49ers defense is now among the best in the league thanks in large part to his leadership.
Chancellor has not played since 2017 thanks to a variety of injuries dating back to 2014. A neck injury was the main culprit, however, and he officially announced his retirement in July of 2018. After several months, he was finally cut in May of 2019. It was a sad end to a career, but Chancellor’s impact on the game was still being felt.
Thomas was the last piece to fall. His last year in Seattle began with a holdout and ended with an injury that cut his season to only four games. Now, as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, however, he is seeing success on a different team.
The legacy of Boom
The Legion of Boom is no more, but its impact helped to shape a culture in the NFL that allowed defenses to be just as important as offenses. While the Seahawks and the core trio of the team have all moved on from one another, the groundwork they laid remains.
Defense is making a comeback in the NFL, and the young teenagers who watched the Legion form are now making their way into the league, themselves.
The Legion of Boom’s demise was sad but unavoidable. Rather than dwelling on the not-so-great final years of its existence, fans would be better off looking at their peak. After all, the league may never see a conflation of events that leads to a team like them again.