Kasey Keller is an amazing player, but not yet worthy of Ring of Honor. Maybe not at all.
This may seem blasphemous on its surface. I mean, who doesn't love Kasey Keller? Who doesn't think he isn't the greatest American keeper, and maybe best U.S. player of all time? He is a legend, an American Legend. He is one of the greatest keepers in his MLS play (playing time caveat). Tens of thousands showed up to see him off, enough to make it the 4th largest soccer crowd in the world. Who loves Kasey Keller? All of us.
It makes some sense that some would want to honor him in the Ring of Honor. But only some sense. In many ways it makes little sense what-so-ever. A lot of that comes from the tradition of the Ring of Honor and what it means. Those already chosen and those not, give us a little bit of a guide.
First, let's just review that first paragraph and how it ends. "All of us." Us when it comes to Kasey Keller is American soccer fans. He isn't famous for his time with the Seattle Sounders, despite all of the great things he's done. Look at his awards from that American Legend post.
He went to 4 World Cups and won 3 Gold Cups, 3 US Open Cups, 3 US Soccer Athlete of Year Awards, 2 Honda Player of the Year Awards and a League Cup.
For all of his amazingness here in Seattle, it is dwarfed by his excellence in an American shirt of Red, White and Blue. Honoring Keller for his time with the USMNT would be like honoring Warren Moon for his stunning CFL and college career. Like Keller, Moon was also a local product (University of Washington) and was a star before playing professionally in Seattle.
Second, none on the list have less than 6 years with the Seattle Seahawks. Longevity matters in this Ring. And that longevity was in a sport where careers are extraordinarily short. American football is brutal. Every man on the list, several during free agency, spent 6 or more years HERE. Chad Brown had a couple good years in Seattle and was a great linebacker. He isn't in.
Third, now isn't the time. Pete Gross was taken from us too soon. He was inducted in the year of his passing. Steve Largent was the greatest player at his position, or maybe only second. He did things that no one every thought could be done. For everything that Largent did to define the Seattle Seahawks over a 13-year career, all here, he was enshrined immediately. Seven times to the Pro Bowl, was the leader in every receiving category at the time of his retirement and made the 1980s All-Decade team. As great as Keller has been, he hasn't been that great in MLS. Keller is only among the leaders, not the hands-down leader. Seriously, it is way too soon. Walter Jones isn't in the Ring of Honor, while Keller still has games to play maybe an MLS Cup to win.
There will be a way that Keller is honored, but talks of these honors should start after his career is over. Maybe even after his post-playing career within the front office is over. This isn't a battle between "our" football and "their" football, it is an understanding of the decades long traditions within this city. Keller doesn't fit, not now. Not yet. The post-career honors will be there. Like the US Open Cup and USL Cup titles he will be praised inside the shared stadium.