Clayton: Kam Chancellor’s physical style quickly earned the respect of his teammates
The tweet wasn’t a surprise. Everyone around the Seahawks sensed that Kam Chancellor had played his last game.
Though Chancellor didn’t have to make any announcement until he showed up at training camp, he was professional enough to give an update after his June visit to the doctor: the neck injury suffered in the Seahawks’ Thursday night win last November over Arizona wasn’t getting any better. It was time to be smart and not risk further injury. His career is over.
What a career it was, and nowhere was it more appreciated in Seattle. Chancellor retired less than one year after Kenny Easley was enshrined as a senior candidate in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Like Easley, Chancellor’s career ended early because of injury.
Both had eight-year careers. Easley went to five Pro Bowls, made the 1980s All-Decade team and he was a four-time first-team All-Pro. Chancellor went to four Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro twice.
Will Chancellor be a Hall of Famer? Probably not. Look how long it took for Easley to make it. He had to wait 25 years and make it as a senior candidate. It’s already hard for safeties to make it in the Hall of Fame because they play off the line of scrimmage and may not register a lot of numbers. They get tackles, forced fumbles and interceptions, but strong safeties play more in the box and don’t get a lot of chances to get the interceptions.
Easley was different. Many considered him to be one of the greatest safeties in pro football history. Not only did he hit like Kam Chancellor, but he had to ability to cover and disrupt and had 32 interceptions over his career.
What kept Easley out of the Hall of Fame for so long was the length of his career. The Seahawks traded him to Arizona a year after the 1987 strike. He took a physical and found out his career was over because of kidney problems created by taking Advil to minimize the pain he suffered on the field.
Easley was Defensive Player of the Year in 1984 and he clearly changed the game. Because he was so dominant in hitting and coverage, he had to move from strong to free safety in his final year because teams wouldn’t run at him or throw towards him. The eight-year career was considered short in the eyes of Hall of Fame voters.
Earl Thomas probably has a better chance to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame than Chancellor. He’s been to six Pro Bowls and is still in his prime.
What Chancellor did for the Seahawks won’t be forgotten, however.
He was the enforcer. He put fear in receivers crossing the middle or running backs headed to him. No one can forget the big hit he made on Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl or the bigger hit he made on Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers.
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, a former teammate of Chancellor’s in Seattle, talked to me on the show Monday about how players marveled in awe during Chancellor’s early days watching replays of his hits. After a while, they took it for granted. They knew Chancellor would lower the boom.
In an interview years ago with Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby on 710 ESPN Seattle, Chancellor said his job was the lower the boom. Bob and Groz then started playing around with nicknames. A listener texted in the name “The Legion of Boom,” and the rest is history.