Gone But Not Forgotten: Leonard Weaver
This article was written to remember one of the Seahawks who isn't likely to have their number retired or make it to the Hall.
October 14 2007 was a painful day for all Seahawk fans. Not only were they crushed at the hands of their Super Bowl rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they lost a franchise icon in Mack Strong to retirement after sustaining a neck injury.
There was a fullback waiting in the wings, but it was far from a sure thing that he would be able to fill Strong’s capable shoes. He was known more for his athleticism than his blocking, and more for his stiff arm than for his pancakes.
However, for one and a half seasons, Seattle was treated to the maturation and improvement of one Leonard Weaver from undrafted signee to one of the most invigorating players on a rapidly declining Seahawks offense.
In the off season before Weaver got his big shot, there were a lot of questions as to whether he’d be ready to back up Strong after going down in preseason play with an injury, and not getting back up until the year was over.
Thankfully he answered those questions with exhilarating performances against each opponent the Hawks faced. The most remarkable thing was the improvement, notably in his blocking ability. It almost seemed that in each of the four preseason games his vision improved and his blocks became more effective. He certainly created a buzz for himself.
The improvement didn’t stop there. After Strong’s career ending injury, Weaver continued to progress in all aspects of the game. While he never became an elite blocker, anyone who saw him in his first year and noticed how much better he became, especially in blocking, may not have believed their eyes.
At the same time, his catching and route-running continued to prove that Weaver was more than just a fullback, at least not the standard model.
For many, the quintessential game of Weaver's career was against the 49ers, where he took two touchdown passes to the house, one from 43 yards out and another from 62. It certainly put him on the NFL map, and may be the main reason why he was picked up by the Eagles in the '08-'09 off season.
It didn’t help that the new offense built by Greg Knapp and Jim Mora requires a more quintessential fullback, something which new FB Justin Griffith fits more readily, even if he isn’t as big a play maker.
Of all the Seahawks I’ve had to watch leave over the years, Weaver's signing with Philadelphia was by far the most painful. That said, he couldn’t have gone to a team more suited for his abilities, and I wish him and his new team the best of luck (except when they play the Seahawks of course).
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