Only the Seattle Seahawks could be one of two NFL squads absent for the start of organized team activities last week and still dominate the national headlines anyway. The football offseason is so long it takes on a life of its own. The Seahawks should have had a slow news cycle as dramas of injuries and rookie developments shaped discussion from their opponents’ camps. Instead, first came the death of one of their Hall of Famers, then reports they might be close to signing free agent lightning rod Colin Kaepernick and at last the juicy portrait of a locker room in turmoil with its ensuing round of backlash and cross chatter.
Around the Seattle sports community, folks starved by the football drought—even with the promise of real Seahawks storylines scheduled to assert themselves Tuesday—started fighting over the morsels: fan turned against fan, and certain internet personalities turned against members of the team, eager to claim loyalties, as if they learned about group dynamics from watching Arrested Development or worse—from American politics. Readers, I tell you now, if I’m going to embrace the Seattle Seahawks I’m going to embrace contradiction and conflicting personalities. A football team is not a contest for my favor or judgment. It’s an ecosystem, full of invisible and phenomenal processes. I try to appreciate being in contact with it, and learn about it. Think what you like about each individual on the roster. The point is—you don’t have to pick a side; you can love all the sideshows. To me, it’s a treat.
As Doug Baldwin said on the radio Tuesday morning, the fact the Seahawks together make a whole doesn’t require a uniform standard for every member of the squad. And Pete Carroll doesn’t hold them to that, according to Baldwin: “We all have our different personalities. We all act different ways. And Pete does a fantastic job of accommodating those personalities.” That may require degrees of subtlety normally not activated by sports conversations, but believe it or not this is the plan.
And while this carnival-like atmosphere of competing distractions should be nothing new to Seattle fans—we haven’t even reached the true wild card period between OTAs and training camp—what struck me after the apparently buzzworthy week was how little really, aside from the mortal loss of Cortez Kennedy which deserves our heed but hardly involves the 2017 club, things had changed. After all, there I was Sunday as a guest on SB Nation radio answering the same questions about Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch that I was asked nearly two months ago, before even the draft, and also before either of those situations reached their (somewhat predictable) eventual turning points.
Truly, the most relentless stories of the Seahawks’ offseason involved a trade that didn’t happen and a player who has not played since 2015 (and was never going to play for this team this year under any circumstances). Saturday came another example of a story where the story was there was no story.
So credit the NFL for making us look, for keeping our attention during its lowest periods. With the coming of OTAs, even at last for Seattle, the flat circle of the pro football offseason is grinding around again toward the place it left off. Perhaps there will be real developments this week, but remember not to take those too seriously either. Mostly, with microphones directly in front of so many players, we will continue to hear gossipy responses to the revelations from a week ago, until once again flashes of athleticism and tender tendons eclipse the news stream. And then again perhaps a new backup quarterback will join the group sooner than later, to divide the audience and resurrect the same scouting reports we’ve been speculatively consuming for months.
It’s not fall football. Shoot, it’s not even technically summertime. But right there in OTAs is the word “team”—and for two weeks the Seahawks, however briefly and with all their contradictions, are back together.