"Chip, meet Shoulder."
That's not the opening line from the pilot episode of Chip 'n Shoulder's Rescue Rangers, it's how the Seattle Seahawks carry themselves in the media, off the field, and during the game. They feel disrespected, forgotten, or just plain ignored.
In all my years as a Seahawks fan on the internet, I have rarely heard an opposing fanbase say that they were concerned about Seattle. And I'm not just talking about when they were bad. I'm referring to things being said about the Seahawks right now. I've heard Denver Broncos fans say that they are so grateful that Seattle beat San Francisco, because "they don't have weapons like Vernon Davis" and "Richard Sherman is overrated."
Just like in 2005, it certainly still feels like few people believe in this team. Well, I have a confession:
I've had my doubts too.
I've had my doubts about almost every player on this team at one time or another. It's easy to believe in a Russell Okung or an Earl Thomas on draft day, but it's hard to trust that Pete Carroll and John Schneider are going to find their franchise quarterback in the third round. Until they do.
There are many players on this team that have been dismissed and ignored... by me. Here is my recognition of that doubt, my apologies, and my thanks. Starting with the offense.
Derrick Coleman - I didn't even know you were deaf, dude. All I knew was that a former Philadelphia 76er went back to college to play football, was undrafted, and if you're a running back in the NFL, that means you have to be a player I've heard of before if you're going to be successful. You can argue with me about that all you want, but *shows you scientific charts and graphs*
When I found out you were deaf, I admit that I wondered how you could play football. But I immediately stopped questioning that, because you already were playing football. However you did it, if you've made it to the Seahawks practice squad, that's good enough for me. Then all of a sudden you weren't just on the practice squad anymore, and I don't care if a player is deaf or can hear 20/20 (that's not how it works) that's inspirational in itself.
But your ad for Duracell made me have an internal monologue where I told myself "Nah, you're not cryin', dog" and this letter from a young girl that has "faif" in you made my heart grow like The Grinch.
I doubted you, Derrick. Not because you were deaf, but because you were an UDFA from UCLA. This season you had five tackles on special teams, two carries, eight catches, and a touchdown. Which is just the icing on the cake compared to inspiring a generation of children to dream bigger than they had before.
Marshawn Lynch - It's always cool to get a skill player or quarterback that was once highly-touted, but let's be real here; You had rushed for 614 yards over your last 17 games with the Bills when we traded for you. I expected very little from you and that's what we got initially.
You never rushed for more than 100 yards in any game in 2010, you had a lower YPC than your buddy Justin Forsett, but frankly the team was so bad that you and Mike Williams were the only thing worth paying attention to. Still, this was going to be a short-term relationship because frankly it just wasn't working out.
And then beyond reason, Seattle made the playoffs at 7-9. If the NFC West wasn't so bad that year, and if we hadn't beaten the Rams in Week 17 (only our third win in the last 10 games) you would've never faced the Saints in the playoffs. Think about that. Think about the future in Seattle if we hadn't made the playoffs in 2010 at 7-9. So many people were rooting for us to lose to St. Louis so that we could have a higher draft pick instead of a "meaningless" playoff game and what happened instead?
On one run in the playoffs, you gained more yard than you had in nine of your 12 games with the Seahawks in the regular season. If it wasn't for that moment -- thanks to the opportunity of playing in the playoffs at all -- do you even remain with the team? Does Seattle draft a running back early? Sign somebody else?
In a single play you rocked the city, and we never doubted you again.
Jermaine Kearse - I never doubted you just because you were a Husky (I'm a Coug) because once we get to the pro level, that shit mostly stops. This is my NFL team and I'll happily have any players that will help us win. I didn't see how an undrafted free agent could help us do that... again.
There's only one Dougie Fresh and all the comments on Field Gulls are about how you'll also be a diamond in the rough UDFA and if it weren't for our no chat speak policy, I'd be all "smh" "lol" ROFLCOPTER, YOU DUMMIES!" to anyone that suggests you'll be anything more than a practice squad player. I wish they'd just let it go, because they're only saying that due to the fact that you went to UW, not because you possess the size and skills to make it at this level.
Now I'm the one that has to eat a big, old plate of ROFLCOPTER.
Your touchdown in Week 1 was the difference in beating the Panthers.
Your touchdown in Week 9 was the difference in beating the Bucs.
Your touchdown in the NFC Championship was... the difference.
I don't know what your ceiling is, I don't know if we're already there, changing the light bulbs, but I know that we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you.
Golden Tate - You were the third pick of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era. The first pick was worked out alright, the second pick worked out amazingly, even the sixth pick was Kam Chancellor. So what about you?
You hit the ground running, with a 52-yard catch and 82 punt return yards in your first career game. And that would remain as the best game of your career for over two more years. People started to rumble in the preseason of 2012 that you'd be cut. Even if you were affordable, were you worth a roster spot? In two seasons, you had 56 catches for 609 yards and were removed as the punt returner. What more could there be?
But you stayed on and got to know this "Wilson" guy. You had more yards in your third season (688) than you had in your career before that, plus seven touchdowns. You only had three touchdowns in your first two seasons. Expectations grew higher going into year four, a contract year.
You finished with 898 yards receiving (you'd have a lot more on a team that didn't rank 31st in pass attempts) and five touchdowns, but also finished second in the league in punt return yards and your two touchdowns against the Rams in Week 8 were literally our only two scores of the game.
I don't know what's going to happen in free agency or where you'll be next season, but we're not here without you.
Doug Baldwin - You're an "appetizer," man. You know what I always say about appetizers:
Seriously though folks, before you came around, I didn't have faith in undrafted free agents. You opened my eyes to the possibility unlike anyone had before, but what you also did was start opening up my eyes to this front office and to these coaches. Because you excelled where so many had laid doubt, I started to wonder about how many others were being left behind for Carroll and Co. to pick up.
You so perfectly exemplify the "chip on my shoulder" mentality, and inspired your teammates like Kearse, Coleman, Alvin Bailey, and many others, that they don't have to be what others expect of them. They can be as good as they're willing to work for.
Ricardo Lockette - Back in 2011, you caught two passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. You had about half as many yards as Zach Miller and Mike Williams, and this made some people think that you were now going to develop into Steve Smith and start putting up 1,000-yard seasons if we just gave you more snaps.
They didn't recognize the faults.
To be honest, I don't know what kind of future you have as a receiver, if any. This year, you caught five passes for 82 yards and I really don't remember any of them. But I will never forget you laying out several sad, pathetic punt return attempts that underestimated your closing speed and the moment of impact. Clearly you started putting in work on special teams so that you could stick with the team this time, and it's worked out beautifully.
You'll have to keep doing that day in and day out if you're going to be on the 2014 roster, but as our "Alex Bannister of the Year" I'm looking forward to seeing what opportunities you may have in the Super Bowl. (Truthfully, I hope you have none on punt coverage, but if we do have to punt, I'll remember our secret weapon.)
(Hint: It's a rocket.)
Michael Robinson - I'm just glad to have you back. I wish we had a "Super Bowl Real Rob Report." Please let it happen.
Zach Miller - Signing you was a major get for this team, especially in 2011. We were coming off of that 7-9 division title, sure, but nobody wanted to come to Seattle. However, with you and Sidney Rice now in fold, maybe things would be better. Maybe Carroll really could turn this franchise around and lure stars to the Northwest. Except that you supernova'd (probably a wildly-incorrect scientific statement there) as soon as you got here.
The Seahawks went 7-9 again, and you had 233 yards and zero touchdowns, plus a few crucial drops.
It didn't take long for me to start looking at your contract and start wondering when the best time to "get out of it" was. (It was after this year.) But now what are we supposed to do with you?
No, you don't put up the kind of receiving numbers you did in Oakland, but you're the "enforcer" of this offense. Your game against the Falcons in the playoffs was masterful and started to show us why Seattle gave you all of that money in the first place. In an age where tight ends are expected by fans to get 900+ yards, you barely get a third of that. And yet, I couldn't picture a Super Bowl victory, without you making at least one tough catch over the middle.
No doubt about it.
Percy Harvin - I still do. It's not really your fault, it's more like buying a nice car and then quickly having mechanical failures and so you take it to the shop but on your way home some stupid teenager t-bones you. I can't be mad at the car about it.
But this is your opportunity to erase an entire season of doubt. You have the ability to do so, the chance to do so, and a stage to impress the whole world like we know you can. Just watch out for stupid teenagers.
Russell Wilson - What can I say, man? I feel like this is the final episode of a Real World season, and the crew waited around to see the final two people say goodbye to one another. The two people that had the most drama, the most coverage, the most fights, the most love. (And when I say "two people" I mean you and then I'll speak for the fans as the "Puck" in this occasion.)
I didn't do a second of pre-draft research on you. Frankly, it's a waste of time (for me, personally) to devote too much time to a player that's not being projected to go in the first round because what if I start to develop feelings? My team never drafts the players I want anyway, and I already have to see them play for other teams as it is, that why should I take out hours of my life to watch tape on some "Projected Round: 2-5" quarterback that's not tall enough to play the position anyway?
We've seen this already in Seattle with Seneca Wallace, why are you any different?
The moment you were drafted now seems like a lifetime ago. I know this, because I was on a treadmill when the Seahawks selected you with the 75th overall pick. Like I said above with Lynch, it's "cool" when your team acquires a skill player or a quarterback, and you were only the 16th QB taken in franchise history. But only Rick Mirer and Dan McGwire were taken before the 75th pick in the draft, and we know how that worked out.
So instead of spending hours researching you before the draft, I spent hours after the draft dissecting the reasons that you would not succeed. This game has been played for a very, very long time, and there simply aren't very many good examples of a player of your stature being successful in the NFL. At least not since Fran Tarkenton, and that was so long ago that "Fran" was a normal name.
My first piece about you was a two-parter title "A Deep Analysis of Height, QBs, the NFL Draft, and Bucking the Trend."
And I quote:
Never let it be said that I don't believe in or support Russell Wilson. He's got loads of talent, projectability, potential, wisdom, smarts, and leadership. I don't follow as much college football that's outside of the Pac-12, but I do know when it's time to take notice of a player in another part of the country and Wilson came out of near-obscurity (I speak for myself) to become a Heisman-candidate and nearly lead the Wisconsin Badgers to the national title game.
I would never doubt what he did as a college football player. But it's important to recognize that there is a big difference between being a star in college and being a star in the NFL. The game is different (literally, different rules), the speed of the game is different, and the size of the players are different. Smaller players can succeed on that level whereas size and speed become a different issue once you get to the pro level.
That doesn't make it the be-all, end-all for a player that graduates to the next level. If we knew for a fact that a quarterback under six feet tall couldn't succeed in the NFL, then Wilson just would not have been drafted as a quarterback. Especially not in the third round.
I didn't want to prove why I didn't believe in you, I wanted to find evidence that allowed me to start believing in you.
My conclusion, after hours of research into the draft and success of quarterbacks around 6' or under?
Can Wilson be the guy that changes our perception of everything in the way that Brees has? Is Russell Wilson, if he is going to become a great NFL player, going to be a "once in a generation" QB? The rational side of me says that it's a very small chance of possibility and the irrational side of me says that Wilson is that special. I mean, what's an inch or two? Wilson possesses advanced knowledge of the game and can make all of the throws, right? There's nothing wrong with both believing in Wilson and also understanding the odds that he has to overcome. It makes us fans but also makes us knowledgeable fans and gives us a greater perspective on how special it would be for Wilson to take the NFL by storm.
I'm going to put the rational side of my brain to sleep for awhile and hopefully when it wakes up, Wilson will have changed what "rational" really means. Maybe instead, he'll just show us the "amazing."
Thanks for showing us the "amazing."
There was no amount of research I could do about other players that would've told me about "Russell Wilson." That's the biggest problem with historical data, is that nothing allows you to predict the future. Especially not when someone is going to change the game, and that just happens every now and then.
Like Coleman inspiring the deaf community to strive for everything they aspire to be and never give up, you're a credit to everyone that looks up to you and knows that every time a coach, a teacher, a peer, or a parent tells them that they "can't" be something due to their height, their size, their race, what "history" says, or any other reason, that humans wouldn't be where they are now if it wasn't for that first person to say: Yes I can.
I'm not sorry that I ever doubted. I'm not sorry that others still do. I'm not sorry that I've doubted everyone on this list at one time or another. Doubt doesn't have to be a bad thing; without it, what would you have to rise above?
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