On Friday, the Seattle Seahawks officially announced what every 12 suspected was going to happen; defensive end & team captain Big Red Bryant (#79) was released from the team. Bryant, who will turn 30 this April, was one of the last holdouts from the Mike Holmgren regime. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2008 from Texas A&M. The logic behind Bryant’s release was to create room for the team’s salary cap. By doing so, the team freed up $5.5 million of cap space.
It’s sad to see Bryant leave the Seahawks organization, but the NFL is a business, and I believe the Hawks had to to do this in order to continue sustained success in the future. I am glad he is leaving Seattle with a Steve Largent award and a Super Bowl ring under his belt.
For Big Red, playing for the Seahawks was a family affair. He wore #79, which belonged to his father-in-law and Seahawks Ring of Honor member defensive end Jacob Green. Green also played his college ball at Texas A&M. In college, is where Bryant started dating Green’s daughter Janelle.
Big Red anchored the defensive line and was a locker room leader. Some people have called him the heart and soul of the defense. I’m sure his leadership will be missed, but there is not a lack of leadership on this team, and somebody else step into the void.
“We All We Got! We All We Need!”
The first time I heard that phrase was during Coach Carroll’s post game speech after the Seahawks upset the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints in the wildcard playoffs in January of 2011. Nobody outside of the Pacific Northwest gave the Seahawks a snowball chance in hell to win that game, but win they did, thanks in part to the historic “BeastQuake” touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch (#24).
The chant was started by strong safety Lawyer Milloy (#36), “We All We Got!”, followed by his teammates chanting back “We All We Need!”. Big Red didn’t play that game due to an injury, but you can see his massive body jumping up and down when Pete Carroll comes over and grabs his arm.
I don’t know who created the saying, but part of me believes it was Big Red. That chant would go on to be the team and 12th Man’s mantra for the upcoming seasons. It was us against the world and that mentality served us well on the way to Super Bowl 48.
I loved the saying so much I even convinced my wife to use it as wedding advice for her speech as a matron of honor this past summer. The credit was given to Big Red.
One of my favorite Big Red memories was when he picked off Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie, thanks in part to a blitz by linebacker K.J. Wright (#50). Big Red high-stepped his 6’4″& 323 pound body, a la Deion Sanders, to the house for a touchdown at Solider Field in December of 2011.
“They Can’t Win, If They Can’t Run”
Big Red seems to have a way with words, perhaps its due to his east Texas accent. He was mic’d up for the Week 15 matchup against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium this season. The defense was perfect that day and shutout the Giants along with intercepting Eli Manning five times. You can watch and hear Big Red in action at the 4 minute mark.
Blocking Kicks & Kicking Ass
Big Red was a extra point (PAT) and field goal blocking machine for the Seahawks. In 2011, he blocked two field goals against the Cleveland Browns, along with a field goal & PAT against the Redskins. This set a club record for blocks kicked in a season.
My favorite blocked kick by Bryant was against the 49ers on December 23, 2012 (Jim Harbaugh’s birthday) in the Week 16 Sunday Night Football game. Big Red got his big mitt on the pigskin; which bounced right into the waiting hands of cornerback Richard Sherman (#25) who took it to the house for six points. A birthday present for his old college coach. Needless to say, Seahawks Stadium erupted with joy. There’s no doubt in my 12th Man mind that it caused a seismic event. The Seahawks went on to embarrass the 49ers on national television that night winning 42 to 13.
I can already envision Big Red coming back to Seahawks Stadium in the far future to raise the 12th Man flag. The 12th Man will miss you Big Red, but we shall meet again.