Jacob Green: I consider Kenny Easley one of two best safeties


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(Jacob Green photos courtesy of Seattle Seahawks)

Talk of Fame Network

Former Seattle safety Kenny Easley not only is the senior candidate for the Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2017, but he is – at least in the estimation of former teammate and star pass rusher Jacob Green – “extremely deserving” of induction as one of the two best safeties to play in the NFL.

“You’re talking about a guy who played the game with passion,” Green said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “a guy who led the way, all those things … I always said the two greatest safeties that I played with or played in that era would’ve been Kenny and Ronnie Lott. Ronnie’s a good friend of mine, and those two guys were the best there is as far as playing safety.”

Like Lott, Easley was a big hitter who blew up opposing ball carriers. Unlike Lott, he had a short career – lasting seven seasons before a serious kidney disease forced his retirement after the 1987 season. But the imprint he left on teammates and opponents was so indelible that he could become just the eighth pure safety inducted into the Hall and the last Hall-of-Fame safety to play.

Ironically, his nomination comes at a time when the NFL is trying to legislate dangerous hits out of the game – and Easley’s hits were unforgettably violent.

“What would happen if he were playing today?” Green was asked.

“No question,” he said, “he’d be in prison. He would be broke because he’d get fined for every tackle. That’s just the way it was. I mean, he led with shoulders and arms … and I’m talking about clean blows. He would hit so hard the referees would call a personal foul for hitting too hard.”

Like Easley, Green had many memorable games with Seattle. When the star defensive lineman retired he had 97.5 official sacks (he had another 18.5 before it became an official stat in 1982), still the team record, and was a two-time Pro Bowler. One of his best games was a Monday-night defeat of San Diego in October, 1984, when Green had two sacks and a forced fumble.

But it wasn’t the performance he remembered most about that evening. Nope, that distinction went to Easley, and it’s video of that game Green said he’d show Hall-of-Fame voters to familiarize them with the safety.

“I thought I had a pretty good game,” he said. “I had two sacks and a caused fumble. (But) Kenny Easley had three interceptions against Dan Fouts. In that game there he was all over the place. I went home and watched the game and I thought, ‘God.’ I couldn’t believe my eyes the plays that he made –not only the three interceptions (but) the tackles he made. He was going against guys like Kellen Winslow and Wes Chandler and Charlie Joiner, making all these plays. It was amazing.

“That game would’ve been his signature game, but there were so many. He had a lot of them. You could go down the list and any one of those games in ‘84 when he won the (Defensive) MVP.  Not only that … just go down the list of any of the games in the seven-year history Kenny played and see what you see. You see a guy going all out. You see a guy making plays all the time. It was just natural.”

 

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