Times were different when Jacob Green joined the Seahawks in 1980. But it’s no surprise that the difference-maker of a defensive end sacked his way onto the 35th Anniversary team.
When the Seahawks selected Jacob Green with the 10th overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, life and the league were different.
The draft was not televised, let along the NFL scouting combine. So the reporters who were gathered downstairs at the team’s original headquarters on the shores of Lake Washington in Kirkland were treated to a highlight film of the athletic and relentless defensive end from Texas A&M.
It was, in a word, stunning. Green exploded off the edge and blew past an overmatched tackle to register a sack. He then chased down a play being run away from him to tackle the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage. He hurdled one would-be blocker for another sack. He then pushed his way past a much-bigger opponent for yet another sack.
As it turned out, that highlight reel was a prelude to the highlight career Green would have for the Seahawks during the next 12 seasons. That’s also why the 35th Anniversary team selected by the readers of Seahawks.com would not be complete without Green doing his disruptive and productive thing from the left end position.
Green greeted the news of his rightful place on the reader-selected team the same way he approached – and still approaches – everything else.
“It’s always good to be remembered,” said Green, who now lives in the Houston area and is assistant director of the 12th Man Foundation’s major gifts program at Texas A&M. “But I played with some great players on the defensive line, and they helped me put up the numbers I put him.
“We all hung in there together, and it worked out pretty well.”
Blue and Green Dream Team
The Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team, as selected by the readers of Seahawks.com:
WR Steve Largent
LT Walter Jones
LG Steve Hutchinson
C Robbie Tobeck
RG Bryan Millard
RT Howard Ballard
TE John Carlson
WR Bobby Engram
WR Brian Blades
QB Matt Hasselbeck
RB Shaun Alexander
FB Mack Strong
DE Jacob Green
DT Joe Nash
DT Cortez Kennedy
DE Michael Sinclair
OLB Chad Brown
MLB Lofa Tatupu
ILB Fredd Young
OLB Rufus Porter
CB Marcus Trufant
CB Dave Brown
NB Shawn Springs
SS Kenny Easley
FS Eugene Robinson
K Norm Johnson
P Rick Tuten
KOR Steve Broussard
PR Nate Burleson
Did it ever, especially for Green. There is no denying the impact of his individual – and teammate-assisted – accomplishments, starting with his franchise-record 116 sacks. That’s 42½ more than Michael Sinclair, who ranks No. 2 and is the other end on the 35th Anniversary team.
“Jacob was one of the fastest guys off the ball I’ve ever seen,” said Eugene Robinson, the free safety on the 35th Anniversary team.
But there’s more to Green than even all those sacks. So much more. He also forced (28) and recovered (17) more fumbles than any player in club history, including a single-season record seven forced fumbles in 1985. His 718 tackles rank No. 5 on the club’s all-time list. He ranks fifth in games played (178) and third in games started (176).
Green led the team in sacks nine times, collecting a career-high 16 in 1983 and registering double-digit sacks five other times. He also scored four times – twice on interception returns and twice on fumble recoveries; and blocked four kicks – a pair of field goals and two PATs.
“Jacob was the guy when I got there – he was ‘the guy,’ ” said Joe Nash, who joined the Seahawks in 1982 and is the nose tackle on the 35th Anniversary team. “And he was ‘the guy’ the entire time he was there.
“The guy was just amazing. The one thing that stands out the most about Jake in my mind is how he took Henry Lawrence back in one of those playoffs games and just dominated him with his great athleticism.”
That would be Henry Lawrence, the right tackle for the Raiders from 1974-86 who was listed at 272 pounds but played bigger – and likely was. Green weighed 252 pounds.
But wait, there’s still more. Green was voted to the Pro Bowl twice (1986 and 1987) and a defensive captain four times (1988-91). He won the Steve Largent Award and was named the team’s Man of the Year in the same season (1990). The next obvious step was his induction into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor in 1995.
When Robinson arrived in 1985, as a rookie free agent, Green already was an established player – and a favorite of then-coach Chuck Knox.
“I used to always wonder why Chuck Knox was like really kind of head-over-heels over Jacob Green,” Robinson said. “It was like Jake could do no wrong.
“Once I saw him play, I knew why. He’s extremely fast. And he wasn’t that big. But in the 3-4 scheme, he had a desire to get to the ball, and he got to the ball. He put pressure on the quarterback like few guys who have ever played this game.”
For much of his career, Green was part of that three-man line that included Nash and right end Jeff Bryant, who is the only player in franchise history to start at all four spots on the D-line.
They dubbed themselves “The Diehards.” Why? “Because,” Green once explained, “we always start.” And, they always finished, too. Season after season. Game after game. Play after play.
“We had a special bond throughout that whole time we were in Seattle together,” Green said.
With the arrival of defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy with the third pick overall in the 1990 NFL draft, the Seahawks switched to a four-man line: Green, Nash, Kennedy and Bryant.
Kennedy’s first two seasons turned out to be Green’s last two. But the connection between them continued.
“Jake used to call and talk to me after he left, just giving me some pointers and continuing to help me with my game,” said Kennedy, the other tackle on the 35th Anniversary team and NFL defensive player of the year in 1992.
“Jake was a team leader, even when he wasn’t on the team anymore.”
That’s a trend that continues even now that Kennedy has called it a Hall of Fame career. Green remains connected to the Seahawks through his charitable work and as a member of the board of advisors – which was started by former CEO Tod Leiweke and is expected to be continued by first-year president Peter McLoughlin. The other members of the board? Former owner John Nordstrom and Largent.
Then there’s Green latest legacy – his son-in-law, Red Bryant who is now wearing Green’s number (79) for the Seahawks and playing his old spot on the left side of the defensive line. Bryant is married to Green’s oldest daughter, Janelle. Jacob and his wife, Janet, also have two other daughters – Jessica and Jillian.
“It’s just the relationship I’ve always had with the franchise,” Green said of his ongoing involvement with all things Seahawks. “I’ve always been a big part of what the Seahawks do, and they include me in everything – from (owner) Paul Allen, to Peter, and when Tod was there, and coach (Mike) Holmgren and now coach (Pete) Carroll.
“To see a guy who’s in the Ring of Honor that comes back and is involved in the community, they know that I am a Seahawk all the way. And I like them welcoming me back. So it’s a good thing, and it’s a great relationship.”
That same one-for-all/all-for-one selflessness was evident when Green was asked for the most lasting memory of his record-setting career with the Seahawks.
“More than anything, what I remember is just being a teammate and a guy who every game day they knew I was going to be there,” Green said. “I think that’s what it’s all about.
“I always gave it my all; left it on the field. That’s kind of the way I look at life, too. You do the best you can every time and then you’ll be alright.”
Not to mention a member of the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.