Legion of Boom (Seattle Seahawks)
The Legion of Boom is a term for the secondary (safeties and cornerbacks) of the Seattle Seahawks since 2012. The current starting players are cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Richard Sherman and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. The defensive backs quickly earned a reputation for consistently leading the NFL in numerous defensive categories. The crowning achievement of the group is their team's victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Before the 2011 season, the Seahawks drafted cornerback Richard Sherman in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft and signed cornerback Brandon Browner as a free agent from the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL), adding to 2010 draftees free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor. They first met during the 2011 NFL lockout at a basketball game against Jamal Crawford, and played good team defense together from the start. After an injury to Marcus Trufant, Sherman earned his first career start on October 30, 2011 against the Cincinnati Bengals, marking the first time the four original members started a game together. The high level play of the group over the rest of the 2011 season would inspire the nickname.
The origin of the term "Legion of Boom" is claimed to have been coined on 710 ESPN Seattle's Bob and Groz show on August 2, 2012, when Chancellor appeared on the show, noting the way the secondary "brings the boom". It is also a play on the Legion of Doom supervillain group from DC Comics. A discussion regarding a nickname for the impressive secondary arose, and the term "Legion of Boom" became widespread on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, Google searches for the term skyrocketed. The term became commonly used in the media by sources like NFL.com and ESPN commentator Jon Gruden. Nike currently offers "Legion of Boom" branded apparel as the group grows in popularity. An ESPN feature found the "Legion of Boom" comparable to nicknamed great defenses such as the Monsters of the Midway and Steel Curtain.
The unit's aggressive nature is all the more remarkable in an era where the NFL has laid particular emphasis on player safety. However, Seahawks secondary coach Kris Richard has worked hard to make his unit one that hits hard, but still plays within the rules. The receivers run routes with shields strapped to their chests that run from neck to mid-thigh, and the defensive backs are taught to keep their hits within that area in order to limit penalties for blows to the head. Bleacher Report describes the Legion of Boom as a monument both to Richard and head coach Pete Carroll, who was a safety himself in his playing days and a defensive backs coach in his early coaching career. Carroll also studied taller cornerback tandems like Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes when assembling the core of defensive backs.
- Richard Sherman is the most vocal member of the group and attained national attention after the 2014 NFC Championship Game when he conducted a highly emotional interview with FOX Sports' Erin Andrews. This "rant" has become a pop culture reference, as even U.S. President Barack Obama mimicked it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Beyond Sherman's vocal personality, he has proven himself to be one of the best corners in football and was briefly the highest paid corner in football when he received his new contract from the Seahawks in 2014.
- Kam Chancellor, at 6'3", 232 pounds, is the tallest and heaviest safety in the NFL, and is known for his hard hitting tackles. He was taken with the 133rd overall pick in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
- Earl Thomas is the shortest member of the Legion of Boom at 5'10". He was described by Sports Illustrated as "a great cover safety from anywhere to anywhere on the field, able to take ridiculous angles and read plays with microscopic precision". He was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
- Byron Maxwell is a 6'1" corner from Clemson University drafted in the sixth round with the 173rd pick by the Seahawks. He became a starting cornerback after Brandon Browner was suspended and left the team during free agency in 2014.
- Brandon Browner was an original member of the Legion of Boom when he signed with the Seahawks in 2011 after playing Canadian football in the CFL for the previous three years. He is 6'4", 221 pounds. He left the Seahawks to sign with the New England Patriots as a free agent in 2014.
- The other defensive backs on the Seahawks roster are also considered members of the Legion of Boom. The backups during their Super Bowl winning year were: Jeron Johnson, Akeem Auguste, Chandler Fenner, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, and Tharold Simon.
Particularly following the suspensions of Brandon Browner in 2012 (four games) and 2013 (suspended indefinitely, but reinstated March 4, 2014), as well of that of Sherman (which he successfully appealed in December 2012), the term "Legion of Boom" has encompassed more than just the four original starters.
Following the 2011 season, Thomas, Chancellor, and Browner were named to the 2012 Pro Bowl. Thomas also earned AP All-Pro honors. Browner tied for fourth in the NFL with six interceptions. In every year thereafter, at least three members of the "Legion of Boom" have been named either AP All-Pro or voted to the Pro Bowl.
After the 2012 season, both Sherman and Thomas were named AP All-Pro. Sherman finished second in the league with eight interceptions. Additionally, the team defense finished first in points allowed, and second in passing touchdowns allowed. The stout pass defense enabled the Seahawks to defeat such quarterbacks as Tom Brady and Tony Romo.
The Legion of Boom had a banner year in 2013. In the regular season, they allowed the fewest passing yards and passing touchdowns in the league while anchoring the league's best passing defense as well as overall defense. Sherman finished first in the league with eight interceptions. Seattle finished the season with the most interceptions in the NFL. Sherman and Thomas were named first-team AP All-Pro, while Chancellor was named to the second team. Sherman, Chancellor, and Thomas were also named to the 2014 Pro Bowl, but did not play due to the Seahawks playing in Super Bowl XLVIII. In their rout of the Denver Broncos, they held Peyton Manning and the record-setting Broncos offense to only eight points, intercepting Manning twice, forcing two fumbles, and playing a major part in securing the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
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- Seahawks' Legion of Boom
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