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The quiet legacy of Bobby Wagner

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By: Tyler Alsin

The Legion of Boom represented not only the best of Seattle Seahawks defense, but also the loudest. In franchise history, perhaps on both accounts.

The stats were ridiculous, the cohesion was book-worthy, the characters were nationally infamous.

But only two athletes who won the Super Bowl in Seattle are still NFL starters, and only one of them is any good.

Bobby Wagner remains at the top of his game, even though every other player from those days is out of the league* – even those who were frequently cited ahead of Wagner.

*excepting Russell Wilson, who is now merely out of his league.

When fans, radio hosts, or whomever discuss those days, it often follows a progression, especially when talking about the “personalities” of the Legion of Boom.

You got Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor – not for being loud but for simply being shaped out of a type of human marble that shouldn’t be permitted on the field. You got Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril – mostly because they went as a pair. At times, the list might still not reach the linebackers, but turn tail towards Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch, another pair of polarizing figures in the NFL and the feature pieces of the offense at that time.

At long last, the conversation rounds out with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.


Every one of those players were ridiculously talented in their own right, reasons the 2013 team was not great but elite. So talent being (more or less) equal, Wagner and Wright were among the quieter personalities on the Legion of Boom defense.

If you could measure competitiveness on some kind of scale, like the Wonderlic test for “who wants it”, I believe there wouldn’t be a shred of difference between Bobby, between Earl, between Sherm. He just didn’t yell at Skip Bayless or dress like a king.

Instead, for 11 years, Wagner has said “not on my field” to any opposing coach, offensive player, or field intruder that came close enough to test him.

To Leave a Legacy

K.J. Wright had a unique opportunity among the best players of the early 2010’s when he came back to give a retirement speech in the city of Seattle. That speech elevated my already lofty opinion of the man Wright is, and we’ve enjoyed his presence in Seattle radio from that day.

Wagner will have a similar opportunity, because he’s one of the only other players to leave with poise and at this point he’s simply outlasted everyone else.

Kam Chancellor’s final year was 2017. Earl Thomas finished in 2019. Michael Bennett did as well, after playing nine games. Richard Sherman played a total of 10 games in 20-21.

In his 11th season, at 32 years old, he’s set a career-high in sacks, and has more tackles than three of his early seasons.

Yeah, he can play.

He was also the bigger man, and it’s all too easy to compare his response to certain others, especially since he and Russell Wilson were let go on the same day.

When Sherm left, scorched earth. When Earl left, scorched earth. When Wilson left, a six-word tweet and divinely-called for scorched earth. Others were less pointed, but it was obvious that several players didn’t leave the Seahawks nostalgic about when they might sit down for drinks with Pete Carroll.

Even though Wagner was released under poor communication, a fact he indicated in March and ESPN conveniently brought back up this week, he’s never indicated public animosity towards the team.

His quietness off the field is reflective of nothing besides a composed competitor. NFL players have so much access and influence right now that it’s easy, often times even rewarded, to pop off, voice opinions, force the issue, and any number of perfectly normal I mean Antonio Brown punted a helmet and got himself a new team.

But Wagner has simply been about ball for a long, long time. Remember Luke Kuechly? For four years it was Kuechly or Wagner, Wagner or Kuechly atop the linebacker awesome chart. Kuechly’s been retired for three years already.

The difference between Wilson’s homecoming in September and Wagner’s homecoming in a few days is a self-made difference.

Wagner epitomizes the definition of an unbelievable competitor who played as the ultimate teammate and leader. When the business side of things caught up with him, he did nothing to retaliate. That earns the undying love of fans now, and for years to come. It’s the reason “will you boo?” has never even been entertained this time around.

But man, I hope he doesn’t take over the game on Sunday.

Originally posted on Field Gulls