The three conference and nine division titles stand as evidence of the success during various Seattle Seahawks seasons.
But it has taken almost 40 years for the Seattle Seahawks to climb back to the threshold of becoming a “winning” franchise.
At 311-312 since their debut season of 1976, a win at Minneapolis on Sunday will lift them to .500 “lifetime” for the first time.
It seems a small mathematical tidbit, not particularly relevant to the immediate realities. At 6-5, the Seahawks face the Vikings (8-3) in a game crucial to both teams’ postseason aspirations.
We focus so tightly on these week-to-week developments that maybe it’s good to pull back and examine the macro trend, to remember how deep this franchise was in losing, and how long it has taken to reverse it.
The reminder for me came in an email from an elderly reader, who commented that my columns on the Seahawks had been more negative this season. Considering my job was to parse the good and bad and analyze the reasons, I took it as a compliment.
The Seahawks were 5-5 at the time, and playing beneath their potential and talent level. They admitted as much. They were making uncharacteristic mistakes, failing to finish games, and not consistently playing with the fiery competitiveness that had taken them to consecutive Super Bowls.
I explained to the emailer that’s why the tone of the commentary had changed. The team had changed.
But it’s also fair to look back to when even lurking in playoff contention would have been a notable success.
The easiest and most meaningful comparison to their development is their expansion cousin, Tampa Bay, which came into the league at the same time and has 71 fewer wins (240-382-1).
Unlike coaches of most expansion franchises, Jack Patera got the Hawks to winning marks in their third and fourth seasons (both 9-7), but was minus-24 overall (35-59) when he was fired early in the 1982 season.
Chuck Knox picked up 17 games on .500 (80-63) during his tenure in Seattle, and got the Hawks all the way back to minus-3 on Oct. 27, 1991. They finished ’91 on a 2-5 streak, though, and Tom Flores took over for the disastrous ’92 season and the start of a minus-20 nose-dive.
Dennis Erickson stabilized the Hawks, going minus-2 in four seasons before Mike Holmgren lifted them to a plus-12 mark that included five division titles and an NFC championship.
It was early in Holmgren’s watch, though, that they hit an all-time low in winning percentage. A Dec. 8, 2002 loss to Philadelphia took them to 33 games below .500.
They won the final three games that season, though, to make 2002 a tipping point in franchise history. Since those last three games, the team has picked up 32 games on .500.
The two most significant changes that season? 1) The Hawks moved into the NFC West, a four-team alignment they would win seven times. 2) They moved into the new stadium, within which they would go 77-33, the second-best home record in that span (Green Bay, 78-31-1).
After a pair of 7-9 seasons, coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks stood at minus-26 at the start of the 2012 season. But in the last three seasons and 11 games, the Seahawks have won 42 of 59 regular-season games.
Forty years is a long time, even for an expansion franchise.
Dallas and Minnesota reached .500 in 10th and 11th seasons. Cincinnati reached .500 in its ninth season but then plummeted.
Because of some intentional advantages given to Carolina and Jacksonville in 1995, they hit .500 in second and third seasons, respectively, but both have slipped below.
The Baltimore Ravens took nine seasons, and have stretched it to plus-30.
However, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints never got close to .500.
As for the rest of the league, we might point to the suffering of the Cardinals, who have racked up 723 losses against 531 wins in their stays in Chicago, St. Louis and Arizona. At 192 games below .500, they’d have to go undefeated for 12 consecutive seasons to get back to even.
The Seahawks, though, now just need one more win.