When the Seattle Seahawks took the field for the first time in the 1976 season, it marked the culmination of a quest for a National Football League franchise that had its roots in the Pacific Northwest metropolis as early as 1957. That is when discussion first began about the possibilities of constructing a domed stadium that would assure a major league sports franchise for the city. On June 4, 1974, the NFL awarded its 28th franchise to Seattle to play in the 64,984-seat Kingdome.
Steve LargentA civic suggestion campaign netted 20,365 entries and 1,741 different names, but “Seahawks” was selected and announced on June 17, 1975. Just a little more than two months later, after a 27-day sale, the season ticket campaign was shut off with 59,000 tickets sold.
On January 3, 1976, Jack Patera, who had been a Minnesota assistant coach, was named the team’s first head coach. The Seahawks finished 2-12 in 1976, when they played in the NFC, and 5-9 in 1977, when they moved into the AFC. The Seahawks had winning 9-7 records in both 1978 and 1979 and Patera was named NFL Coach of the Year the second year.
The strike-shortened 1982 season proved to be a transitional year for all of pro football, but no club fit the transitional description better than the Seahawks. Patera was removed after six-plus years as head coach. Mike McCormack finished the season as interim head coach and then was replaced in 1983 by Chuck Knox, who guided the Seahawks to an 83-67-0 record in nine seasons up through the 1991 campaign.
Knox led the Seahawks to the AFC championship game his first season. Seattle won an AFC West wild-card berth for the first time in its eight-year history and then knocked off Denver and Miami before losing to the Los Angeles Raiders 30-14 in the title game.
Once again in 1984, Knox guided the Seahawks to the playoffs with a 12-4 season. Seattle’s success came without ace running back Curt Warner, who led the AFC in rushing as a rookie in 1983 with 1,449 yards. Warner was injured in the first game and missed the rest of the season. Knox led Seattle back to the playoffs in 1987 and to the team’s only AFC Western division championship in 1988. That year, they lost to the eventual AFC champion, the Cincinnati Bengals, in the first playoff round.
The greatest individual star in Seahawks history, wide receiver Steve Largent, retired after the 1989 season as the NFL’s all-time leading receiver. At the time of his retirement, Largent held six all-time NFL receiving records. In 1995 he became the first Seahawk to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
During the 1988 season, Ken Behring purchased the majority ownership of the club from the Nordstrom family. On February 11, 1989, he named former Los Angeles Raiders head coach Tom Flores as the team’s new president and general manager. Three years later in January 1992, Flores was named the Seahawks new head coach. In nine seasons as the Raiders’ head man, Flores compiled a 91-56-0 record with victories in Super Bowls XV and XVIII. In 1995 Flores was replaced by Dennis Erickson, the highly-successful University of Miami coach.
The future of the Seahawks in the Pacific Northwest was secured after Paul Allen purchased the team in 1997 and two years later hired Mike Holmgren as their head coach. In 2005, the Seahawks won the NFC West with a 13-3 record and claimed the NFC championship to earn their first-ever Super Bowl berth.