The Seattle Seahawks have had numerous fights in practice this year, perhaps none more surprising than the one between Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin this week. Except given that the two are like brothers after spending the last 10 years together, perhaps that’s what makes it the least surprising fight you could have imagined. The two have apparently been going at it for years.
A recent profile/interview from the latest Sports Illustrated on Baldwin reveals some interesting things about the sixth-year wideout with a history of being angry, isolated, and who is currently enjoying the largest bout of fame and success that he’s ever had.
"I couldn't relate to any of them," Baldwin says.
Pensacola wasn't any better. Friends there called Baldwin rich, which meant stuffy and moneyed, the implication hanging in the Florida air as thick as the humidity: too white. "I really didn't have anybody I was close to," Baldwin says. "You were either with me or you weren't, and if you weren't, it was like, F--- you. I carry that to this day. I'm working through it, but it's in me."
A coach at Stanford pointed out the obvious tension between Baldwin and head coach Jim Harbaugh:
"Coach [Jim Harbaugh] essentially wrote him off as being a selfish, uncoachable guy who put himself above his teammates," says Shannon Turley, Stanford's sports performance coordinator. "Some of his focus and energy was misdirected when he was young."
Andrew Luck, his QB at Stanford, says Baldwin had “a bag of chips on each shoulder.”
Then there’s the history between him and Sherman, who used to also play in the same unit as Baldwin as a former receiver at Stanford before moving to oppose him as a cornerback:
He's also aware of how his internal strife projects to his teammates, at times making him seem selfish and obsessed, more of an island than a leader. That has manifested in confrontations, like in Baldwin's rookie year in Seattle when he lived with his college teammate Richard Sherman. One day Sherman, sick of arguments over dishes and whatnot, pulled off the freeway so they could fight. (They didn't. Sherman also does not recall this particular incident, such was the frequency of the dust-ups.) Baldwin moved out with four months remaining on their lease.
"Doug is like the little brother I never wanted," Sherman says. "I want him to be happy. I'm like: Dude, relax."
It’s anyone’s guess, but people will certainly speculate that his recent fight with Sherman could either be a cause of or a reaction to the fact that Baldwin isn’t underrated anymore. Where are the chips on his shoulder going to come from now that he’s caught 14 touchdowns in a single season? Now that he’s ranked by ESPN as the 90th-best player in the NFL and is a top-10 WR in terms of salary? Is Baldwin acting the same this year? Is Sherman intentionally prodding him in order to get a reaction? People have high expectations of Baldwin really for the first time in his football career. How will he respond to those expectations?
We don’t know yet, but at least the fight on Monday against Sherman started with him burning him for a touchdown. As long as he’s continues to produce at a high level, I don’t think anyone cares how angry he is or how many fights he gets into at practice.