STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – There was something different about the Seahawks' team that took a quick tour of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. It contained four All-Pro players.
Earlier in the day, it was announced that running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas had been voted to the Associated Press All-Pro team. The Seahawks had not had a first-team All-Pro since 2007, and this season's quartet ties the franchise record that was set by the 2005 team during its run to the Super Bowl.
It was Mike Holmgren, the coach of those '05 and '07 teams, who always said that individual accolades come from team success. And that's exactly how this season's All-Pro selections view the honor, as they're more focused on Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game against the Falcons.
"It's a blessing and it's really humbling to get that honor, because there are only a certain amount of guys who can get it," Sherman said after the team returned from its walkthrough at Georgia Tech and the quick tour of the site for Sunday's game.
"It's just a testament to my teammates and all the hard work we've put in together. When you've got great guys around you, it makes you look great sometimes."
Sherman received the most votes (39) from the panel of 50 media representatives, an oddity after he was snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting last month when Lynch, Unger and Thomas were voted to the NFC squad along with kick returner Leon Washington. Thomas received 28 All-Pro votes, Lynch 24 and Unger 16.
"It's just a blessing to be known as the best at your position, because that's been my ultimate goal since Day One," said Thomas, the only Seahawk who was voted a Pro Bowl starter last season. "But it's also a credit to my teammates and how they've helped me along, because without them none of this would be possible. When we win, everybody gets personal accolades. And I'd also like to give credit to God.
"But it's on my mind to be the best safety in the league and I'm just trying to push toward that."
Not surprisingly, Unger viewed his honor as a testament to the job the rest of the line and the entire offense did this season. But he also admitted never envisioning that this season would include All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors for him when it started.
"It's been pretty crazy," Unger said. "At the start of the season, I didn't expect to get any awards. It's just a credit to our offense. We've had a lot of success. We kind of figured it out. There's a lot of deserving guys in our (meeting) room that I need to credit for this."
As for Lynch, in typical fashion he chose not to discuss the honor. But he has echoed the sentiments of his teammates when asked about individual awards in the past. It's a credit to his blockers, and his coaches, and the plays that are called, and the overall success of the offense and the team.
Still, this is historic stuff for the Seahawks, as it matched something accomplished by the 2005 team. The All-Pro contingent that season was comprised of all offensive players – running back and league MVP Shaun Alexander; tackle Walter Jones and guard Steve Hutchinson, the left side of the line; and fullback Mack Strong.
Unger, Thomas and Sherman are the first players in franchise history at their positions to be named first team All-Pro. Lynch joins Alexander as the only running back to be named first-team All-Pro, and Alexander also made the second team in 2004. Curt Warner was a second-team selection three times (1983, 1986 and 1987), while Chris Warren got second-team status twice (1994 and 1995).
Jones holds the franchise record with four first-team selections (2001, 2004-05 and 2007), and he was a second-team pick in 2008. Defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and strong safety Kenny Easley were named to the first team three times – 1992-94 for Kennedy, who also was a second-team selection in 1996; 1983-85 for Easley. Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent was named to the first team once (1985) and made the second team four times (1978-79, 1984 and 1987).
But with the way the Seahawks are playing this season, and as young as this team is, Lynch, Unger, Sherman and Thomas might just be getting started when it comes to individual honors that are linked to team success.
"We've got team goals to still check off our list," Sherman said. "The Super Bowl is obviously one of them, and that's still out in front of us. So that's where my focus is right now."