Kam Chancellor’s performance in the NFC Championship provided the football nation with a look at all the good things the Seahawks’ extra-strong strong safety has been doing for the past three seasons.
When Kam Chancellor walked into the defensive backs meeting room for the first time as a rookie in 2010, it prompted veteran safety Jordan Babineaux to offer more than a double-take.
Babineaux was about to explain that the linebackers meeting room was down the hall at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. But then he realized who the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Chancellor was.
“When Kam walked in I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” the since-retired Babineaux said at the time. “He’s the physical specimen that you dream of.”
Unless you’re a receiver on an opposing team, that is. Then the dream is more like a nightmarish matchup.
Just ask Vernon Davis. The also physically gifted tight end of the San Francisco 49ers was on the receiving end of one of those Chancellor tattoo-hits that have become his calling card the past 3½ season since the Seahawks selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft – and he became a situational player midway through his rookie season before stepping in as the starter in 2011.
This feature on All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor completes our series of articles examining the starters in the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary that leads the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense:
FS Earl Thomas – Voted All-Pro for the second consecutive season and to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his four-season career. Finished second on the team in tackles (100) and interceptions (five). Read more.
CB Richard Sherman – Voted All-Pro for the second consecutive season and also to the first Pro Bowl in his three-season career. Led the NFL in interceptions (eight) and has more interceptions (20) and passes defensed (60) than any player in the league since 2011. Read more.
CB Byron Maxwell – Stepped in as the starter on the right side in Week 13, as the third option because Brandon Browner was injured and Walter Thurmond was serving a four-game suspension. In his five regular season starts, Maxwell intercepted four passes. Read more.
The third-quarter pass from Colin Kaepernick and the pigskin-seeking missile that Chancellor transforms into when he’s in a helmet and full pads arrived at Davis in the same half-blink during Sunday’s NFC Championship game. Chancellor hit Davis. The ball hit the turf at CenturyLink Field. And someone should have hit the play button on the Ike and Tina Turner version “I Want to Take You Higher,” because the impact of that one play was greater than just that one play and looked like something out of “Remember the Titans.”
Boom shaka-laka-laka. Boom shaka-laka-laka.
In a Seahawks secondary that goes by the Legion of Boom, Chancellor is The Enforcer.
As the Seahawks’ defense was taking over in the second half of Sunday’s NFC Championship game, Chancellor also was the hyperactive metronome that set the beat in motion. In addition to that welcome-to-my-world collision with Davis, Chancellor intercepted a Kaepernick pass that was intended for wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the fourth quarter and also caused Michael Crabtree to short-arm a pass with two minutes to play because he could sense Chancellor’s imposing presence. Oh, and he also finished with 11 tackles.
“I just show my passion for the game,” Chancellor said Thursday. “Because when I go out there, all these hard hits and laying dudes out, that’s just my passion for the game. That just shows how much I love this game and I’m just continuing to show how you should play this game.”
The NFC title game was a big day – and obviously a very passionate day – on the biggest stage yet for Chancellor, who this week is busy preparing for the Seahawks’ matchup against the Denver Broncos’ high-powered offense in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2.
But it was far from an atypical performance for Chancellor. In the past three seasons, he has made 94, 91 and 93 tackles – as well as seven interceptions. In two postseason games this season, he leads the team in tackles (25) and passes defensed (four).
Chancellor doesn’t generate the media attention that seems to find All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman even when he’s not looking for it; or the honors that have come the way of All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. But the other players, the coaches and even the Seahawks’ front office know just how valuable he is to all the good things the team has accomplished.
When it was time to unveil the Seahawks’ new uniforms in the spring of 2012, Chancellor was the choice to model it at the Nike-sponsored event in New York City. And for the obvious reason. Even in a room filled players from the other 31 NFL teams, no one struck a more-imposing figure than Chancellor.