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Around the NFL, veterans sing the praises of “Special Seattle”

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

I used to live in Olympia, I now live in Everett. In both instances, whenever I travel further than, say, the Oregon border, I’ve resigned to telling people I’m from Seattle. Too many blank stares otherwise. It’s always fun to watch the recognition around the country (and world) when people hear Seattle; it’s pretty recognizable. Sure we’re no New York or Miami, but we’ve got legendary rain, Starbucks and that Needly thing that almost everyone seems to know about.

Seattle is a special place. But it’s not just a great American city. It’s also home to a unique culture that Pete Carroll built. This is nothing new, as people have noticed his cool style for years now.

Personally, looking around the NFL this year, I add John Schneider to that pairing. Russell Wilson also deserves recognition, for his influence that has grown year after year since his arrival. Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor contributed as well, though if we name every significant athlete this paragraph would be monstrously big.

Maybe at the top of the list is Paul Allen, who from start to finish was just a different cat as far as NFL owners are concerned, and who took risks on unconventional leaders.

Seattle is a great place to play. Maybe one of the best. Whatever’s been built behind the VMAC and CenturyLink doors is special, and it actually, tangibly results in players coming to and staying in the city of Seattle for more than just business decisions.

But don’t take my word for it. The 2019 Seahawks have vested veterans from around the country who now play in green and blue. Some are here because John Schneider yanked them. Some are here because they chose to stay. Some are here because they chose to come. And some (ok it might just be Jadeveon Clowney) chose to use negotiation power to single out Seattle because of some friendly advice and a desire to play with an elite quarterback.

Here, straight from the horse’s mouth (or the Texan/Packer/Buccaneer/Eagle/Patriot/Lion’s mouth), are some insightful thoughts from the players themselves.

This idea resurfaced when Jadeveon Clowney specifically shortlisted Seattle as a potential landing spot. According to Clowney it had a bit to do with Duane Brown, some to do with Seahawk reputation, and a whole lot because of Russell Wilson.

I think Russ is a great quarterback, so I was like, who should I go play for? It’s gotta be somebody who can move the ball down the field.

But Clowney’s appreciation hasn’t been limited to Wilson.

It’s just something about this team. They never hit the panic button. They come to work and prepare like pros ever since I’ve been here.

There are great players on this team that can make plays. There are a lot of playmakers around the ball. The coaches are great. They’ve all got high energy. Just to be a part of something like that is special.

That word has proven to be the great theme tying all these players together from around the country. Special. Jimmy Graham has been one of the bigger trades John Schneider pulled out of nowhere, and he was one of the first to compare another great franchise to this Seahawk franchise and speak highly of both its culture and its quarterback.

It feels incredible. To be here, to be part of something special like this, and to work on this connection with Russ, and to build the bond with my tight end community, it’s been truly amazing.

With Russ, it’s bigger than the game, it’s bigger than football, and that’s how you know something special is gonna happen, and it extends off the field.

Duane Brown, who is obviously most well-known as the other really big player from the Houston Texans who came to the Seattle Seahawks because of a dispute with upper management, followed suit. In all honesty if we have Duane Brown to thank for getting Jadeveon Clowney, than we have a lot to thank him for. But he’s also been a rock on an oft-insulted offensive line, as well as a great companion to QB Wilson’s steady demeanor.

Soon after his arrival Brown was already raving about the difference* from Texas to Washington.

It’s an organization that supports that. They support you speaking up for the things that you believe in. It’s been great so far...It makes it a lot more comfortable in the building and in your interactions with people.

I’ve had a lot of respect for the organization for a long time...There’s a lot of success here, a great mentality. There’s a brotherhood here. Everyone governs themselves and holds each other accountable.

There’s a lot of great leadership in this locker room, and just a tremendous amount of resiliency in the way they play. I’m honored to be part of it.

In the playoffs last season, DJ Fluker added his thoughts. Formerly of the San Diego chargers and one year on the NY Giants, Fluker gushed:

I love being here, I love being a Seahawk,” Fluker said. “If my future is here, and I hope it is here, I would love to be here forever.

He is very likely the funniest guy on the team, and has now played in the best three corners of the continental U.S. so his opinion is to be trusted.

Mychal Kendricks has been one of the quieter members on the roster. It’s probably for the best, as nearly the entire time he’s been a Seahawk he’s been under legal scrutiny. Such was the case when he offered this more mild endorsement of Seattle, but appreciative nonetheless.

I’m very blessed to have this opportunity. Everyone’s real cool. It’s definitely a West Coast vibe here. I was on the East Coast for the past seven years. This is my year seven, actually. Everyone here is really, really kind, including the people of Seattle and Washington. Everyone’s been so kind. People are embracing me with open arms and it feels good.

A young Bradley McDougald, only six months into his Seahawk tenure, was asked if he hoped to sign an extension with Seattle. His response?

I would love to. This one year that I have been here has really meant a lot to me. Great teammates, great locker room, great coaching staff, just a great organization and I’d love to come back

Josh Gordon, one of this year’s additions, also loves it here. He was sort of wrongly accused of throwing shade at Tom Brady earlier when he was simply trying to point out the quarterbacks of his later career have been tremendous. Russell Wilson obviously being the pinnacle of that, as Gordon was previously partnered with the good-not-great grandpa version of Tom Brady.

But specifically about the organization, Gordon quipped:

This was a tremendous game right there — the juice, the environment, the energy the team has every day, it’s definitely different. I love it. I’m really happy to be here.

Quandre Diggs is the newest of the bunch, and as covered earlier is playing out of his mind. Could be because one of his best friends Tyler Lockett lives in Seattle, could be because the Seahawks don’t suck at the unprecedented level of the Detroit Lions.

I can come into the locker room and I see familiar faces around. For me, it makes it a lot easier. Tyler was the first person I called as soon as I found the news out. We talked about this before, we’ve spoken about if we could be teammates. Just having the opportunity to be around these guys—it’s a great team here, a great organization. I just like to be around great people with great vibes… It’s dope to be around familiar people, people I know I can trust.

Being a professional athlete is many a young kids’ dream. But it also has its share of difficulty, including being sent across the country at a moment’s notice and rarely getting to choose your own place of employment. Yet the list of those with outside perspective who truly appreciate this franchise continues to grow. The Seahawks have built a multi-year culture of winning, and not being a complete trainwreck in house.

It’s an especially interesting contrast because of how volatile the turnover was when the star members of the 2013 Super Bowl team departed. Two of Seattle’s favorites in particular, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, did not exit gracefully. While both of them had never played for another professional franchise, they took shots at Pete Carroll in particular on the way out. Sherman had his whole “Kumbaya” Pete room rant, while ET gave one of the more pointed middle fingers at coach Carroll as he left the field for the last time.

There were others, to be sure, maybe more mild. But as athletes continue to migrate West, especially now that Russell Wilson is the biggest name on the team in his own right, it feels different. The problems are highlighted less, and the unique positives highlighted more.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider have contracts through the 2021 season. That’s another two seasons of drafting “our type of guys” and playing Return of the Mack during training camp. Another couple years of basketball competitions, home run derbys, protecting the team, and hopefully winning. Pete Carroll has already turned in seven 10-win seasons out of ten years as head coach, and was a nine-year season away from eight years in a row of double digit wins.

Seattle has plenty of needs coming up at the end of the year, most notably are slots on both offensive and defensive lines. Some of that will come from free agent signings or trades, to be sure. Let’s continue to enjoy this run where Schneider can go out and draw guys in who are eager and excited to join the rich heritage of Seahawk football.