RENTON – Unless you’re an aficionado of contemporary music, the amplified soundtrack of a Seahawks training camp seems like an unvarying stream of thumpa-thumpa beat and rapid-fire rhymes.
Granted, it suits the action. A football field is no place for Chopin sonatas.
But into this rather homogeneous practice playlist recently came a pleasant and lyrical tune expressing heartland work ethic and Hoosier values. With a little slide guitar and lines about basic humanity, you could almost hear the crickets in the cornfields, and smell apple cobbler cooling on the window sill.
First thought: How did John Cougar Mellencamp get in there?
Actually, the singer was Seahawks defensive tackle Craig Terrill.
John Cougar Trainingcamp?
Terrill and the defensive line were going through some routine drills at the time. The singer/songwriter/tackle started grinning when his “Indiana Boy” song came on. He had no idea it was on the playlist.
“It was a little distracting at the time because I was so focused on football,” Terrill said. “But then it got me thinking about a chord progression, and maybe doing something different on the song.”
His teammates’ response?
“Most of them didn’t know who it was,” Terrill said. “Ricky Foley thought it was Tom Petty, so I took that as a compliment.”
Terrill’s musical skills first gained notice among the Seahawks and their fans when he was called onstage at the team’s post-Super Bowl XL party and he played guitar and sang alongside team owner Paul Allen.
Terrill made a nice little personal-interest story at the time, but odds were against him having much of an impact with the team. After all, he was a sixth-round draft pick out of Purdue, who seemed a bit of an afterthought in a 2004 draft that featured first-round defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs from Texas.
But seven seasons later, Terrill is still on the roster and having a productive camp.
Coach Dan Quinn had just come off the field, helping as Terrill put in extra work after practice.
“He’s a guy who always tries to out-work you,” Quinn said. “What a nice mentality that is for a player to have. You always talk about trying to maximize and taking it as far as you can, so I respect the way he goes about it.”
The extra work? Terrill calls it, “The secret of the game.” At least it is for a 295-pounder who may be 30 pounds or more lighter than most of those playing his position.
“I know I have to play above my talent level,” he said. “I’m not the biggest and strongest guy. I’d be the first to say that, but people underestimate me and I can outplay them on the field because I’ve worked harder. And I work harder because I’ve had to.”
So he studies, refines his techniques, and is open to doing anything asked of him … continuing to do “ … the things I’ve done since I’ve been in the league, because it’s been pretty well-received by coaches and the front office.”
Quinn will testify.
“There’s a real trust factor there with Craig,” he said. “Yes, you have to be able to make plays, and he does, but he adds such value because he can play nose, three technique … he can move around, nickel, goal line, whatever we need him to do.”
And he can write songs and sing about it all afterward.
He said The Craig Terrill Band recorded a second album of original material in the offseason, and he expects it to be released within the next few months.
He sees no contradiction in being an introspective and creative performing artist while being paid to physically abuse opposing players.
“Rock ’n’ roll and sports go together,” he said, recalling all the years of music playing in the weight room as he trained.
“Sure, if I could play music for a living (after football), that would be great,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a tough business as well, but music is a passion for me, and I’ve been lucky enough to do it somewhat professionally.”
Quinn said Terrill is having “a great camp” and is stronger than he’s been in some time. At 30, Terrill is trying to sustain his career with a rookie’s hunger and a vet’s savvy. He’s already beaten the career odds against an undersized sixth-round draft pick.
“I’ve been very blessed, for sure,” he said. “I think that every day I get to walk in this building and play football. It’s still a game for me and I still love playing it.”