The Seattle Seahawks Have Been in the NFL Longer Than You Think

Rapid changes consumed the early days of the NFL. After the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, football took off under a unified banner. Within a few short years, the NFL expanded to include two new teams: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks.  

The Seattle Seahawks’ history

The Seahawks came to the NFL in 1976 along with the Buccaneers. They were the first two expansion teams to be added to the newly-formed NFL. But the push for a professional football franchise in the remote Pacific Northwest began much earlier. 

Because of the city’s location, there were very few major athletic events in the surrounding region. Oregon, Montana, and Idaho all lacked any type of professional sporting franchise. As early as 1957, Seattle expressed a desire to secure a professional franchise.

In 1972 a collection of community businessmen and leaders calling themselves the Seattle Professional Football, Inc began the process in earnest. With their combined efforts, they were able to launch the Seahawks.    

One team, two conferences

The Seahawks’ first season was one for the fans. While they only managed to win two games, their opening performance was a nail-biting loss to the St. Louis Cardinals off an interception in the final seconds that helped solidify their fan base. In their first year as a team, the Seahawks sold 59,000 season tickets. 

Early on, the Seahawks had a one-of-a-kind NFL experience. Their second year in the league, the Seahawks and the Buccaneers traded conferences. The Seahawks moved from the NFC West to the AFC West, where they would remain for the next two decades.

This move was an effort to help the two new franchises transition into the league more easily, giving them the opportunity to play each other twice, while ensuring that they played every other team at least once.

Starting in the early ’80s, under the guidance of head coach Chuck Knox, the team made their first playoff run. In 1983, the Seahawks went nine and seven, securing their first playoff berth. That year they made it to the AFC championship game, losing against the Los Angeles Raiders. 

Two decades later, the NFL would go through another realignment in 2002 meant to balance out conference divisions. As members of the NFC West once again, the Seahawks would win three NFC titles, in 2005, 2013, and 2014 respectively, making them the only NFL team to play in both an AFC and NFC championship game. 

Notable players and achievements

Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck | Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Over the years, the franchise has had its share of both notable players and outstanding achievements. After their dismal first season, the team got their legs beneath them. They’ve had 10 postseason visits, four championship games, and in 2014, they won their first Super Bowl with coach Pete Carrol at the helm.

A number of top-tier talent has come out of the Seahawks’ franchise over the years, according to Bleacher Report. Quarterback Jim Zorn initially led the Seahawks, playing eight years with the team. Dave Krieg took the helm between 1980 and 1991. 

In the early 80s, running back Curt Warner joined the team and changed their entire dynamic. Warner was a high-production back who rushed for nearly 7,000 yards and 56 touchdowns during his prolific career. 

Steve Largent was the Pacific Northwest’s original hero. The wide receiver joined the team in their inaugural season, and played with the Seahawks for 13 years, racking up more than 13,000 receiving yards and 100 touchdowns.

Modern-day fans are most familiar with names like Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson or Matt Hasselbeck. There’s also Shaun Alexander, the spiritual successor to Warner who amassed nearly 10,000 running yards and 100 touchdowns during the early 2000s.

Regardless of the era, or which set of outstanding players the franchise attracts, the Seahawks have been a successful, one-of-a-kind expansion team.