Kam Chancellor, Seahawks secondary live up to their Legion of Boom nickname
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JERSEY CITY - Kam Chancellor never watched the cartoons when he was a kid. But the first time he heard the phrase "Legion of Boom," a tweak on the old Legion of Doom from Saturday morning animation, he loved it.
"It was catchy," the strong safety said Monday of the moniker. "So we just ran with it."
Now the Legion of Boom, or L.O.B. for short, is about to lead the Seahawks into the Super Bowl. The four members -- Chancellor and Earl Thomas at safety, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell at cornerback -- represent the strength of the defense and the strength of the team.
Their goal? To L.O.B.otomize the Broncos.
The name itself came from -- appropriately enough for the Seahawks and their devotion to their 12th man -- the fans. It was first mentioned to Chancellor during a postgame interview, he said. The crowd-sourced name quickly stuck.
The quartet has become nearly inseparable. During pregame introductions, rather than run out on the field as their names are announced, the four defensive backs wait and come out together.
Each brings a unique quality to the association: speed, smarts, quickness. But there is no doubt about who brings the pain.
"He's probably the most physical safety in the league," Sherman said of Chancellor. "He booms. He's the enforcer of the Legion of Boom."
Chancellor takes pride in that ability to intimidate receivers. In fact, he said he made a conscious decision several years ago to shape his game as such. One of the players he tried to model himself after was Sean Taylor, the late Redskins safety.
"Hitting is a want-to," he said. "You can't just go out here and lollygag around and think you're going to make the tackle. You have to know you're delivering force and impact and being an enforcer in the game."
Chancellor said he often gets a "certain look" from receivers who have had enough of his hits.
"Their eyes get a little big and they're like, 'Oh, man, was that real?' " he said. "I just smile back. It's fun for me. It's like a race through the body and I feel everything, all the emotion comes out. It makes me just want to hit harder."
In this day of player safety rules, that can be difficult. Chancellor said he has adapted to the new NFL and adjusted his strike zone when he targets players for a thunderous hit.
If the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, there's a good chance that one of the L.O.B.ers will be named MVP. That's a different philosophy than, say, the Giants who have beaten Tom Brady in two Super Bowls on the strength of their pass rush. The Seahawks have an inverted defense compared to Big Blue's, one that starts in the back and works its way up.
That likely stems from coach Pete Carroll's background not only as a defensive coordinator but as a defensive backs coach. The first draft pick Carroll oversaw with the Seahawks was first-rounder Thomas in 2010. Chancellor was taken later in that draft.
Not that there are slouches up front. Chancellor called the Seahawks' pass rushers "savages." They are led by Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. But it's clear which way the Seahawks' strength flows.
From the Legion.
"It gave us something to fall back on, something that we really could [hang] our hat on, that we could really say, 'We've made it, we made this, this is who we are, this is our personality, this is our group,' " Sherman said.
"It's a brotherhood," Chancellor added. "It shows how tight of a unit we are, how close we are and how connected we are. We got each other's backs and we hold each other to a high standard."
It's worth noting that the Legion of Doom that spawned the name was made up not of superheroes but of villains. Nasty ones, too.
That doesn't bother Chancellor.
"It gives a nice little ring to it," he said. "I definitely like the name."