When you are acknowledged in the NFL as being an elite defensive group, you get a nickname. The Purple People Eaters. The Steel Curtain. The Fearsome Foursome. The Doomsday Defense.
They were all intimidating in their own way, but, for the most part, they were defined by their defensive fronts. The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the few modern-era teams to have earned a nickname that is identifiable to any football fan – the “Legion of Boom.”
Centered on cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, they have combined to form one of the best secondaries of all time and, as the Minnesota Vikings prepare for Seattle, wide receiver Mike Wallace is looking to take on the L.O.B.
So what makes them so good? Part of it is as simple as mind over matter … combined with a ton of talent.
“First and foremost, I think it’s their mindset,” Wallace said. “Their mindset is that they’re great and they feel like it. If you train your mind a certain way, a lot of times your body will follow.”
The true source of their collective dominance has been the amount of time they’ve been together. The safety component of the L.O.B. was addressed in 2010, when the Seahawks drafted Thomas in the first round of the draft and, in the fifth round, selected Chancellor. A year later, Seattle drafted Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.
It didn’t take long for the three of them to mesh, and the longer they’ve been together the more productive they’ve become. It has been the shorthand they developed as a group that has made them as dominant as they are.
“They have so much togetherness on their team because they’ve been together a long time,” Wallace said. “I remember when they all first started coming in (to the NFL) the year after me. When you’re with somebody five, six, seven years, you know how to be in sync. Nobody leaves for them. They may have one new guy at the corner who they keep rotating in and out every year, but, other than that, their whole defense has been together for at least four years. When you’re together for so long, you feed off each other. Just being together for a while is definitely the biggest thing that makes them good.”
In the process, they’ve become a recognized unit, where you can’t mention one without the other two being in the mix. The right cornerback has been the Ringo of the group for the last few years, but when you had Lennon, McCartney and Harrison leading the way, any drummer will do.
Each of them has their own defined role in the defense and, as Wallace noted, they’re all at the top of the respective positions in the NFL.
“They have some really athletic players,” Wallace said. “Earl Thomas probably covers the most ground from the safety position in the entire league. Kam is an enforcer. He’s one of the biggest guys – I’ve seen him hit tight ends, O-linemen, wide receivers, running backs. He hits them all. Sherman, we already know how he plays.”
Along with the success of the Legion of Boom has come the swagger that is often associated with it. They’re all big hitters and aren’t shy about letting people know just how good they are, especially opposing receivers.
Wallace isn’t one who is subject to the kind of intimidation – as he put it, “I’m not intimidated by any man, not an-y-bo-dy” – but, he’s aware of the reputation for trash talking the Seahawks have developed. Unfortunately, if the L.O.B. plans on bringing the smack to the Vikings, it will be falling on deaf ears.
“People don’t really tell me too much,” Wallace said. “I don’t really talk too much during a game. I just play football. They definitely talk a lot, but, at the same time, our guys don’t talk as much. You can talk all you want, but you’ll be talking to yourself. We just want to play football. It’s not about them talking, it’s about playing football.”
Anybody can trash talk, but the Seahawks and the L.O.B. are one of those groups that can talk the talk and back it up. Wallace isn’t going to take the bait, because that isn’t his nature.
While he may not agree with all their mind games and tough-guy tactics, he does have a healthy respect for the Legion of Boom because they’ve been able to back up their tough talk with even tougher actions.
“Talking about ain’t going to get you wins,” Wallace said. “They win because they’re good and they’ve got a good football team.”