Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Seahawks Transformation Easily Worth A Couple Of Practices

News broke today that the Seahawks violated new rules in the NFL collective bargaining agreement regarding player contact during organized team activities (OTAs), and will have to forfeit two upcoming practices as a result. My first concern was less about the loss of practice, and more that there was a subtle implication that a player reported the excessive contact to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). A player on the team was so concerned about this perception that he reached out to me to make sure people knew the NFLPA review happened automatically as a result of player injuries (Golden Tate and Allen Bradford both broke hands) and a publicized report of a fight between Doug Baldwin and Earl Thomas, not due to a player complaining. Step back, and break all that down.

The Seahawks were penalized for practicing too hard, and for too much contact. Nobody on the team reported this to the NFLPA. The thought of a player breaching team trust and reporting a mild violation was so troubling to players that they took the time to make sure fans knew this did not come from them. Some will take this as an opportunity to poke at Pete Carroll for running another program that violates the rules. Others may wring their hands about the disadvantage the Seahawks face due to the lost practice time. Two practices is a small price to pay for the Seahawks continuing to reshape their brand.

People have historically described the Seahawks as "soft," "small," or a "finesse" team. Fans around the country will read tomorrow about one team in the NFL that violated rules by allowing too much contact in practice. That's something you would expect to read about the Patriots, the Steelers, the Bears. Those organizations would puff out their chests while saying their mea culpas. Seattle victories are more often attributed to luck than to toughness. I can almost guarantee you Jim Harbaugh was pissed when he saw the story break. Don't be surprised if you see a story next week that the 49ers have been docked three practices due to violating contact rules, just so Harbaugh can claim toughness superiority.

Carroll is a player's coach, right? He's easy on players, right? He is building anything but a soft team. Both the defense and the offense will hit opponents in the mouth, and then do it again. The fact that they struggle to hold back in practice is a great sign. These guys are torqued, and it's June. Note that none of the players involved had to apologize to the team, or were cited for off-field problems. This was about intensity, not about selfishness.

That said, it would not have been surprising the hear that a player on the team felt compelled to report violations to the NFLPA. They have affiliations to the league, to themselves, to the union and to the team. They all chose the team. Nobody is advocating team cover-ups here. Whistle blowers play a critical role in any open society. The coaches were not putting anyone at risk. The players weren't doing anything they don't do in other practices that have different CBA rules. It's not like they were doing Mike Singletary's infamous nutcracker drills. It was more akin to that one extra shove during an in-game scuffle that results in a 15-yard penalty. They need to know better, but you love to see the fight in them. This was about good players trying to become great.

All this means the players are banned from the Seahawks facilities for the next few days. Who knows what they will do with more time on their hands. Maybe they will treat it like a vacation. Maybe they'll explore rainy Seattle. More likely, they will be finding other fields they can practice on without coaches, pouring over their playbooks, and studying film. That's who this team is becoming. It's a transformation fans can be proud of.

6 comments :

Anonymous said...

Damn right! Uncle Pete has the boys ready for a fight. This is something I can be proud if as a Hawks fan. Our father's "soft" Seahawks are no more. It's not like they were playing dirty in a game they were just ready to crack some heads for the sake of competion and that's a team I like to root for

Dave @dhodgs said...

Exactly.

Dave @dhodgs said...

Exactly my thoughts.

Havok said...

Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Was it one play?
An entire session?
Why is no one else in the league having an issue with this?
What EXACTLY did they do that was outside the rules? This punishment is on a par with ripping Okung"s pectoral muscle with a judo move...
Tough is great but I would rather see coaches working with players for two more days.

Anonymous said...

HAWKMAN SAYS-Seattle had a rep of being soft because of Shaun Alexander mostly, and a defense of bend but don't break instead of hit you in the mouth. Heard this from Howie Long in 07 ( answering a question I put to him).Hawks were just starting to get some swagger then Ruskell was brought in and that was that. I see where Cleveland was going 11 on 11 and some bumping , so I guess maybe they are looking at the Hawks more closely now?