A Reaction to ESPN Saying There is Trouble in Seattle
By Lee Vowell
Does anyone else tire of the national negativity that is directed toward the Seahawks? One week we see Sherman wants to be traded and the band is breaking up. Another week we hear that Michael Bennett is being immature (mind you, this was by a Seattle Times writer). Lots of people think Russell Wilson is too polished and that makes him weird. Pete Carroll lets the players talk too much and has too little control. How dare the Seahawks sign a jerk like Colin Kaepernick?, many think. And on…and on…and on…
ESPN once again attempts to create ripples
ESPN’s Seth Wickersham released a longish article this morning about what he perceives as the issues with the Seahawks. This column will also appear in an upcoming ESPN the Magazine edition. In the piece, Wickersham cites conversations he has had with Seahawks coaches and staffers and friends of players. Through these conversations, he surmises that cornerback Richard Sherman “has placed responsibility for (the Seahawks failing to win multiple Super Bowls) on the two faces of the franchise: Wilson and Carroll.”
Wickersham says Sherman “thinks Carroll hasn’t held Wilson or many young Seahawks to the defense’s championship standard.” Wickersham hints that Carroll’s coaching philosophy of positivity (which Wickersham says “borders on New Agey”) is being lost. The writer also seems to doubt Wilson’s genuineness. Wickersham says about the offseason trip where Wilson had players come to Hawaii following the Seahawks loss in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots
"Wilson has said that he, like Carroll, made peace with the Butler interception immediately, chalking it up to the plan of a higher power. That spring Wilson chartered a trip for the entire team to Hawaii. He later framed it to Sports Illustrated not as a therapy session but rather as a forward-looking exercise. That made no sense. After all, the story detailed the hours players spent on the trip at the edge of a cliff, rehashing the play, airing grievances. Wilson, in the vein of Carroll, doubled down by saying that he’d throw to receiver Ricardo Lockette again."
The problem develops
Here’s where I started having some trouble with the article. Wickersham partly put himself in the narrative instead of staying above it. Who says Wilson’s reason for having the team come to Hawaii “made no sense”? The writer did. Simply, a writer’s job in an article like Wickersham’s is not to judge the characters, but to report on the character’s actions. What right does Wickersham have to say Wilson was being disingenuous in his reason for bringing the team to Hawaii? Wickersham is not a part of the team but an outsider. Plus, as Wilson himself did not give a comment on the story to Wickersham, the author is simply presuming what is in Wilson’s head.
Wickersham also cites a much talked about rumor that many of Wilson teammates are jealous of the quarterback. However, the writer says
"It seems to go beyond the normal jealousy aimed at most star quarterbacks. Teammates privately seem to want him exposed, but ask them why, or on what grounds, and their reasons vary. A man who vowed to live in transparency — Wilson famously announced that he was refraining from premarital sex with his then-girlfriend, Ciara — required guests to sign nondisclosure agreements before entering his box at Mariners games. After the Super Bowl against Denver, team management “fell in love with Russell,” in the words of a former high-level staffer; defensive players would see him in executives’ offices and wonder, “Why not me?” Pettiness grew. In 2014, Bleacher Report reported that some black teammates “think Wilson isn’t black enough.”"
Wickersham seems to throw as many of the controversial topics that have been directed towards Wilson in this one paragraph. Teammates say Wilson “isn’t black enough.” This originally came from a Bleacher Report article about the relationship between Percy Harvin and Seahawks teammates. Percy Harvin. You know, the player who wears out his welcome on literally every team he plays for. Wilson got guests to sign nondisclosure agreements at a Seahawks game. Um, ok?
The reality of the situation
Are many non-quarterbacks in the NFL jealous of the quarterbacks? Of course they are! The quarterbacks get paid large amounts of money. They get lots of endorsement deals. Their faces are on billboards around town. In fact, they are many times the “face” of the franchise and are used to make the team money. Do players ask, “Why not me?” on every team in the NFL? Yes, they do. Because teams are made up of human beings and human beings do not like to be less regarded than others.
The reality, though, is that most professional football players understand the quarterback is going to get the most attention. If a receiver is so jealous that he intentionally drops a catchable pass to make the quarterback look bad, the receiver gets cut and not the quarterback. That is how it should be. Defensive players with self-respect do not give less effort because they have a famous quarterback on their team.
The ESPN article could be written about any team in the NFL. You have teams of 53 men, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who play a game of collision. Is it surprising when they show bursts of emotion? The Seahawks just happen to be a lot more open about their emotions than other teams. Richard Sherman is one of the more outspoken players. Therefore, the media can more easily target him as there is more fodder for their stories.
We are all 12s
Has Sherman been extremely brash and possibly crossed the emotional line on the sidelines on occasion? Probably. Would Coach Carroll realistically want Sherman to be different? Probably not. Would 12s want Sherman to be less volatile? They shouldn’t. Sherman’s energy, both emotional and intellectual, is what has driven him to be a great football player. In turn, the Seahawks are a better team. Wickersham never addresses this, but he should have.
Lastly, ESPN has changed so much over the years. There was once a time when they reported the sports news. Lately, and sadly, there have been major changes, including lay-offs, at the network. Many talented people have been let go. Shows like First Take are where the network focuses its attention now. “Instigation” must have become an important word in the work philosophy. There are still many talented people at ESPN – much more talented than myself, mind you – but it seems ESPN executives hope now that instead of the network reporting on the sports news, that other outlets are reporting on ESPN’s opinions. This is a detriment to fans everywhere. We just want to know what is going on with our teams.
The real season cannot start soon enough.