In an inevitable move, the Seahawks finally cut ties with injured star safety Kam Chancellor on Thursday, terminating his contract due to failed physical designation.
Though he didn’t play at all in 2018 and his release was expected at some point this offseason, Chancellor’s departure remains bittersweet for both Seahawks and NFL fans alike. The unique 6-foot-3, 225-pound defender spoke with his actions and put the boom in “Legion of Boom,” intimidating his opponents with punishing hits and physical coverage throughout his NFL career.
In eight seasons with Seattle, “Bam Bam” amassed 641 combined tackles, 12 interceptions, 44 passes defensed, and nine forced fumbles. Using his rare blend of size, athleticism, and instincts, he garnered Second-Team All-Pro distinction twice and made four Pro Bowl squads.
Statistics and awards aside, Chancellor primarily earned his reputation as “The Enforcer” based on his innate ability to unload jarring hits at all levels of the defense and deliver in the clutch for the Seahawks.
In honor of Chancellor’s outstanding career coming to an official close, here’s a look at his top eight plays dominating opponents in eight seasons as a Seahawk.
Play No. 8: Line Assault in Arizona
After joining the Seahawks as a fifth-round pick in 2010, Chancellor set the tone for coach Pete Carroll’s defense and helped usher in a new era of safety play with his physical presence.
To illustrate his rare skill set to the fullest, look no further than Chancellor’s impressive run stuff against Cardinals running back Andre Ellington in 2013. Immediately after diagnosing the run play, he lowered his shoulder and collided with pulling tackle Eric Winston.
Showing off his unmatched power at the safety position, Chancellor knocked Winston off his feet and drove him backward into the ground. Once he disengaged himself from the failed block attempt, he finished up the awe-inspiring effort by wrapping up Ellington behind the line for a short loss.
Play No. 7: “Steeling” a Win
In a high scoring affair, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 345 yards and tossed five touchdowns, while his counterpart Ben Roethlisberger passed for over 450 yards for the Steelers before exiting with a concussion. In large part due to the outstanding quarterback play on both sides, the two teams combined for nearly 1,000 total yards and 69 points on the afternoon.
Even with Wilson’s phenomenal performance, however, Chancellor may have turned in the play of the game for Seattle. With less than two minutes left and the Seahawks nursing a nine-point lead, Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones hoped to put points on the board quickly, lofting a deep ball down the right sideline to Martavis Bryant.
Exhibiting underrated ball skills and hand-eye coordination, Chancellor snagged the football after a deflection by teammate DeShawn Shead and somehow managed to get a knee down before rolling out of bounds. Originally ruled an incomplete pass, officials changed the call and rewarded him with a can’t-miss interception, sealing a thrilling Seahawks victory in the process.
Play No. 6: Dawn Before the Tip
While “The Tip” ended the 49ers three-year run of dominance and propelled Seattle to its first-ever Super Bowl victory two weeks later, Chancellor’s heroics often get lost in the shuffle.
After running back Marshawn Lynch lost a costly fumble near the goal line on fourth down, the 49ers took possession trailing by only three points with eight minutes left to play. San Francisco opened the drive picking up a first down on an 11-yard run by Kendall Hunter and momentum appeared to have shifted towards the visiting team.
On the next play, Chancellor promptly steered momentum back into Seattle’s favor in one of the most pivotal plays of the game. With the star safety sneaking into the flats, quarterback Colin Kaepernick telegraphed a short pass in the direction of receiver Anquan Boldin. Apparently unnoticed by Kaepernick, Chancellor climbed the ladder and hauled in the gift-wrapped interception.
Blessed with great starting field position, the Seahawks increased their lead to 23-17 with a field goal by Steven Hauschka. The extra insurance points forced Kaepernick to eventually test Richard Sherman in the end zone and led to the iconic, franchise-altering tip play.
Play No. 5: Theft at Ice Bowl II
Playing in one of the coldest games in NFL history, both the Seahawks and Vikings were struggling to put points on the board while battling the elements in the 2015 Wild Card round.
Holding a slim 9-7 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings kept feeding star running back Adrian Peterson, hoping to engineer a methodical scoring drive while also eating clock. Though not known as much of a receiving threat, Minnesota tried to incorporate him into the passing attack as part of its halftime adjustments.
After catching a five-yard pass to start the Vikings first drive of the quarter, Peterson caught another pass in the flats and stiff-armed linebacker K.J. Wright before passing the first down marker. Off balance and holding the football loosely away from his body, Chancellor ripped the ball away from Peterson’s grasp, creating the spark Seattle desperately needed as Ahtyba Rubin recovered the fumble.
Chancellor’s play often gets lost in the shuffle due to Blair Walsh’s botched 27-yard field goal at the end of regulation. But without the forced fumble, Seattle likely wouldn’t have had the lead to begin with.
Play No. 4: Kam on Cam Violence
Prior to pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history against the Packers, Cam Newton and the Panthers provided a test for the Seahawks in the divisional round of the 2014 NFC playoffs.
Though Seattle had built a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, Newton was in the midst of driving his team downfield to cut the lead to seven with a little over five minutes left in regulation. With the ball on the Seahawks’ 13-yard line, the dual-threat quarterback attempted to thread the needle to tight end Ed Dickson on a short pass into the flats.
As he did so many times in his career, Chancellor stuck the dagger into the opposition with a game-changing turnover. After baiting Newton while dropping back into his zone responsibility, he quickly undercut Dickson, who had stopped to come back to the football. With nobody in front of him, Chancellor picked the pass off and sprinted 90 yards for a touchdown to punch Seattle’s return ticket to the NFC Championship game.
Play No. 3: The Motown Punchout
Chancellor typically saved his best for playoff games, but one of his most exemplary efforts came in Week 4 against the Lions during the 2015 season.
In control for most of the game, the Seahawks gave the Lions life in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Caraun Reid recovered a fumble by Wilson and returned it for a touchdown. With Seattle’s lead cut to 13-10, Detroit forced a three-and-out and regained possession at its own eight-yard line with six minutes left on the clock.
Using short and intermediate passes, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford patiently engineered his team’s finest offensive drive of the game. He completed all five of his passes while guiding Detroit to the Seattle 11-yard line at the two-minute warning, eventually forcing the Seahawks to start burning timeouts to save clock.
Facing 3rd and 1, Detroit went for the jugular and Stafford found star receiver Calvin Johnson on a short whip route. “Megatron” raced past Seahawks cornerback Cary Williams with a full head of steam and looked primed to give the Lions their first lead. But Chancellor chased him down from behind and punched the football out before he reached across the goal line, thwarting the Lions comeback bid.
Play No. 2: Super Bowl Wake Up Call
Plenty of Seahawks enjoyed strong performances against the Broncos during a 43-8 blowout in Super Bowl XLVIII. But once again, Chancellor made the game-defining play, only this time it happened on Denver’s second possession.
After a botched snap led to a safety on the first snap of the game and the Seahawks tacked on a field goal to take an early 5-0 lead, a frazzled Peyton Manning tried to quickly right the ship for the Broncos. After a short run on first down, Denver turned to the short passing game looking to find an offensive rhythm. With the inside receiver running a defender off with a vertical route, Demaryius Thomas ran a short crossing route underneath and initially appeared open.
The Seahawks were using Cover 1 “robber” coverage, however, and Chancellor was sitting patiently waiting for Thomas as he crossed the field. Before the receiver could even turn his shoulders, Chancellor flew in like a heat-seeking missile and decked him, limiting the Broncos to a two-yard gain and sending a not-so-subtle warning about the consequences of catching the ball in the middle of the field against Seattle’s defense.
Play No. 1: R.I.P. Vernon Davis
There’s not another play that properly defines the most successful era of Seahawks football better than Chancellor’s bone-rattling hit against 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in Week 16 of the 2012 season.
Backed by a raucous home crowd, Seattle raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against their bitter division rivals. Trying to scratch his team back into the game, Kaepernick marched the 49ers deep into Seahawks’ territory. With receiver Michael Crabtree running a “pick” route inside, Davis appeared wide open on a wheel route along the right sideline and Kaepernick tried to hit him in stride.
Davis may have looked open, but Chancellor quickly made up ground from his post in deep zone coverage. Shot out of a cannon, he launched himself into the tight end’s chest, dislodging the football from his hands. Seattle received a helmet-to-helmet penalty even though the tackle looked clean during replays, but the hit still sent a clear message to their division rivals as the Seahawks went on to win 42-13.