CHASING THE RING
three former A&M stars continue building this weekend
on the unique Seahawks-Aggies connection
by Rusty Burson
12th Man Magazine
When he was chosen by the Seattle Seahawks with the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft, Texas A&M defensive lineman Jacob Green was thrilled for numerous reasons. He had long dreamed of reaching the NFL, and among other distinctions, Green was pleased to be the first Aggie to ever be drafted by the Seahawks, one of two NFL expansion teams in 1976.
Little did Green know at the time that being drafted by the Seahawks would be the start of a unique affiliation between Texas A&M and Seattle that is still alive today, more than three decades after Green first arrived in the Emerald City.
On Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Central time, three former Texas A&M standout football players will be in the Seahawks’ uniform when Seattle plays host to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. The winner of that game will face the AFC champion in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The 49ers also have one former A&M player on the roster, second-year defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie. And former Butkus Award winner Von Miller is a member of the Denver Broncos’ roster, although Miller will not play on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots because of a season-ending knee injury.
But among all the four NFL teams that are still alive in the playoffs this weekend, it’s the Seahawks who feature the most distinctive maroon and white flavor, as veteran defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Red Bryant and rookie running back Christine Michael represent the Aggies in the Pacific Northwest.
Of course, it’s not unusual to see former A&M stars, particularly former A&M defensive linemen in Seattle. Ever since Green, a two-year captain, two-time All-SWC selection and 1979 first-team All-American for the Aggies, first began building a reputation as a dominant presence along the defensive front in Seattle, the Seahawks have continued to utilize A&M defensive lineman as anchors along the line of scrimmage.
Green, the Seahawks’ all-time leader with 116 sacks, is a member of the team’s Ring of Honor and was voted to the 35th Anniversary team. He was a mainstay during one of the more successful runs in franchise history—1983-88, when the Seahawks went to the playoffs four times, advanced to the AFC Championship Game in 1983 and won their first division title in ’88.
Shortly after Green ended his sensational 12.5-year NFL career with the team, Seattle selected A&M All-American defensive lineman Sam Adams with the eighth overall pick of the 1994 draft. And in the ensuing years, former A&M defensive linemen Rocky Bernard, Brandon Mitchell, Bryant and Bennett have played key roles along the Seattle defensive front.
“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that Jacob paved the way for all of us,” said Rocky Bernard, a fifth-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2002. “He was so good for so long that it definitely had to make an impression on people up there that A&M must produce really good defensive lineman. Then you followed Jacob with another great player in Sam Adams. It’s just one of those things that has continued to work out over and over again for Seattle.”
Bernard, who is now retired from the NFL and living in Houston after also enjoying a successful tenure with the New York Giants (2009-12), attended the Seahawks’ playoff victory last Saturday over the New Orleans Saints in Seattle, as did Green, who will also be in attendance this weekend.
Green, who still holds A&M’s single-season record with 20 sacks in ’79, is still a well-known and beloved personality in Seattle. He annually hosts the Jacob Green Charity Golf Classic, which benefits the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. And in 2012, he was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame.
Beyond all he accomplished with the Seahawks and all he continues to contribute to the community in Seattle, Green regularly attends games at CenturyLink Field for personal reasons. All three of Green’s daughters—Janelle, Jessica and Jillian—attended A&M, and Janelle is married to Red Bryant, who was chosen by the Seahawks in the fourth round of the ’08 draft.
Bryant, Seattle’s defensive captain, wears the same No. 79 uniform that Green starred in with the organization for the duration of his NFL career. Green, who since 2006 has been a Major Gifts Officer with the 12th Man Foundation, says he watches his son-in-law wear that jersey with tremendous pride. As an added benefit, he is typically able to see his daughter and his two young grandchildren when returning to Seattle.
“I’m always happy when I see Aggies make it to the NFL, and I would’ve been pleased for Red no matter where he landed,” said Green, who also still owns A&M records for career fumbles caused (12) and most fumbles caused in a season (six in 1978). “But I must admit that it has been especially rewarding to see him do so well in Seattle, a city that holds so many great memories and connections for me. It’s a family thing, and for whatever reason, the Seahawks have had quite a connection with Texas A&M over the years.”
Perhaps the reason for that connection that has been continuing for more than 30 years is Seattle first struck gold when they drafted Green.
All-time Aggies who have appeared on the Seahawks’ roster
- Sam Adams, DL (1994-99)
- Michael Bennett, DL (2013- )
- Rocky Bernard, DL (2002-08)
- Red Bryant, DL (2008- )
- Jacob Green, DL (1980-92)
- Jerrod Johnson, QB (2013)
- James McKeehan, TE (1995)
- Christine Michael, RB (2013- )
- Brandon Mitchell, DL (2002-04)
- Jimmy Teal, WR (1987-88)