The Seahawks were well represented on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s that was announced on Monday. Pete Carroll, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner and Marshawn Lynch all made the cut.
One notable and glaring absence was Kam Chancellor, who had a legit case to have been included. Before we dive too far into this, let me begin with the disclaimer that every player who made the team is/was incredible and that there are others around the league who can also make a case that they were snubbed.
The three safeties who made the All-Decade Team were Thomas, Eric Berry and Eric Weddle. Tyrann Mathieu, who has spent a majority of his career at safety, also made the team in one of the two “DB” slots. Berry and Mathieu would be the two that Chancellor stacks up next to the best.
Mathieu’s career resurgence has been noteworthy, highlighted by his All-Pro campaign in 2019 with the Chiefs. He played a significant role in Kansas City’s Super Bowl run, which likely tipped the voting scales in his favor in regard to the All-Decade Team. That’s not to say recency bias is the reason he made it, but Mathieu was certainly top of mind when the Hall of Fame selection committee voted on who made the 2010s All-Decade Team.
Berry may have had the best prime, but he also had the shortest prime. He made five Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro three times. Chancellor made four Pro Bowls but was never named All-Pro. However, those were Berry’s only five impact seasons. Berry struggled with injuries and then was never the same player following his cancer diagnosis. (Thankfully, and far more importantly, he’s made a full recovery.)
Chancellor stacks up well to Mathieu and Berry statistically.
Chancellor: 109 games, 12 interceptions, nine forced fumbles, 2.0 sacks and 607 tackles.
Mathieu: 98 games, 17 interceptions, one touchdown, four forced fumbles, 9.0 sacks and 472 tackles.
Berry: 89 games, 14 interceptions, five touchdowns, four forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks and 445 tackles.
Chancellor’s edge comes in the postseason. In 14 career playoff games, he posted three interceptions, one touchdown, one forced fumble, nine passes defended and 97 total tackles. Mathieu and Berry’s postseason numbers don’t come close. In addition, Chancellor could have easily been named MVP of Super Bowl XLIII. He had 10 tackles, one interception and two passes defended in Seattle’s 43-8 beatdown of the Broncos. Chancellor had a snap-to-snap impact that went well beyond the box score.
And that’s what voters would have needed to take into consideration with Chancellor’s case for the All-Decade team. He had a presence that transcended what you can glean from a list of career stats. Chancellor was the “Legion of Boom’s” enforcer. Receivers knew Seattle’s strong safety was patrolling the middle of the field, eager to decimate anyone unlucky enough to enter his no-fly zone.
Chancellor was a lynchpin on a historically great defense. Many will argue that Chancellor’s greatness was due in large part to the presence of Sherman and Thomas. But that argument goes both ways. Opposing offenses had to alter their approach against Seattle’s defense because of Chancellor. The safety’s intimidation factor was real and was emphasized with every crushing hit.
Similar to Lynch’s “Beast Mode” persona, Chancellor’s game was simply different. There wasn’t another strong safety during the decade that shared his physicality. Seattle had a 6-foot-3, 225-pound Mack Truck with a Ferrari engine in its secondary. No other team could claim such a weapon.
Chancellor’s career was cut short medically due to a serious neck injury. It likely cost him his spot on the All-Decade Team, and that’s a shame. For my money, he should have made it anyway.