This Franchise Needs a Face

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks runs with the ball during their season opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 11, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

"It is the mark of a great man that he puts to flight all ordinary calculations. He is at once sublime and touching, childlike and of the race of giants."

- Honore de Balzac

Imagine you're a young Seattle sports fan at the mall about to get your very first Seahawks jersey. The options tantalize you. Immediately, you're drawn to the Marshawn Lynch jerseys. After all, in your short time on this planet his "Beastmode" run is the only truly memorable Seattle Sports moment (not counting your uncle's profanity-laced tirade about some guy named Reichbauer).

But your dad gently reminds you that running backs have a short shelf-life in the NFL, and besides, he's none too enthusiastic about your childhood role model being a guy who should probably take the bus to work.

Russell Okung's an option, except no kid ever wants the jersey of an offensive lineman with James Harden's ankles.

The safety tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam "Wham, Bam, Thank You Mam" Chancellor holds a certain allure, except safeties don't really have that "I put this team on my shoulders" aura and, because you're an avid SB Nation Seattle reader, you have a sneaking suspicion Chancellor may eventually be trade bait anyways.

So you keep looking. Sidney Rice? No. Golden Tate? Please. Bruce Irvin? "Shut up dad, you're not helping." Eventually you walk out of the mall with a Cortez Kennedy jersey and an uneasy feeling that maybe it's a bad sign if there isn't one player on the roster whose jersey oozes cool.

And that may just be the problem with these Seattle Seahawks. The team will be good because there's solid talent and plenty of it, but there are no stars, no faces of the franchise.

No Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson or heck, not even a Shaun Alexander. This is a problem in a star-driven league such as the NFL where a team can be greater than the some of its parts, but will only go as far as its greatest part can take it.

If you look around the NFL, there are lots of good teams. Every year, those teams look at their roster and figure that with all that talent, maybe it's their year to make a run.

But with few exceptions at the fringes, by the time the playoffs roll around it's always the same cast of characters. Sure the other teams had good seasons, but it's the Tom Brady's, Ben Roethlisberger's, Drew Brees' and...

If you look at the NFL's top team, nearly all of them have at least one legitimate superstar, and they better have multiple if none of their stars are at quarterback.

The only recent Super Bowl participants that didn't have top-five quarterbacks playing in their prime, the 2009 Cardinals and the 2007 Bears, were led by veterans who'd already experienced lots of success in Kurt Warner and Brian Urlacher. In short, if Joe Flacco is your quarterback, you better have Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice, Ed Reed, and co. backing him up.

And at this point, it will be tough for the Seahawks to groom more than a couple of those types of players on their own. Seattle is good enough now where they can't expect to get anybody at the top of the draft, so unless Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson turns into their next Hasselbeck, the team will have to turn to free agency or trade to find the franchises' face.

It might be painful, and it might involve flipping some of that exciting young talent that everyone's so excited about. But it'll be worth it, because if the Seahawks don't have they type of player that has little kids scrambling to get their autographs and jerseys, then it won't matter how solid and deep the rest of the team is.

For more on the Seahawks, make sure you head to Field Gulls and join in on the discussion.

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