A musical stew of hip-hop and grunge blared at the Seahawks practice field Friday afternoon. The lyrics were difficult to decipher, but after 90 minutes, I was pretty sure the narrative of each song went something like this:
“Everything is beautiful, in its own way. Like a starry summer night, or a snow-covered winter day. Everybody’s beautiful under God’s heaven, the world’s gonna find a way.”
The Seahawks third “Organized Team Activity” — NFL parlance for the voluntary workouts that precede the mandatory minicamp workouts that precede training camp — was the first OTA open to the media. Given the recent ESPN story portraying the Hawks locker room to be splintered by factions, I expected an occasional spat to break out.
But the mood was festive. Players didn’t walk or jog from one agility drill to another. They ran with the kind of enthusiasm that transformed a football practice field in early June to the Happiest Place on Earth.
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Workouts can be a grind to watch, and workouts three months before a game that matters are especially tedious. But Friday found me pumped up to the point I missed strapping on the leather helmet I got for my sixth birthday.
“Can you use an extra running back whose ribs ached for a month the last time he slipped on a patch of ice?” I wanted to ask head coach Pete Carroll. “Somebody whose contract demands will be minimal?”
Carroll needs no new running backs, or, for that matter, no very old running backs. He’s content to whittle a rotation out of a group of eight that includes familiar names (Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls) along with the more obscure likes of J.D. McKissic, Chris Carson, Tre Madden and Mike Davis.
Same goes for the receivers, both interior lines, the linebackers, and the secondary.
“We’re in great shape,” Carroll said. “The locker room is in great shape. The group is fired up, working hard every day. Everybody is pulling for one another.”
It was no surprise that Carroll’s state-of-the-team update suggested future organized team activities will be highlighted by marshmallow roasts and sing-a-longs around the campfire. He’s wired to accentuate the positive.
The surprise was his team stepping onto the practice field and appearing gung-ho and all-in about 2017. If rifts exist — and it’d be naive to presume otherwise — the Seahawks have concealed them with the professionalism of perpetual Super Bowl contenders.
Take, for instance, the most conspicuous example of locker-room tensions revealed in the ESPN story: Cornerback Richard Sherman’s frustration with an offense built around quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson can do no wrong in the eyes of his head coach, is how ESPN reporter Seth Wickersham perceived the situation for a national audience, and Sherman’s sideline rants last season were evidence of a potentially irreparable feud.
Talking to reporters after the Friday OTA, Wilson was confronted with questions he knew were coming.
“Richard Sherman is one of the best teammates I could ever ask for,” Wilson said. “Has he ever missed a practice? I don’t know if he has. I respect his work ethic, his timely nature in games, obviously making plays, his mentality, and he’s a good dad as well. To be able to watch him from a distance and see how he is with the kids, that matters.
“Those are the things I look forward to. Those are the things I know. I think he’s a great teammate and a Hall-of-Fame cornerback, as well. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
In other words, well, there are no other words.
Wilson has no problems with Sherman, and Carroll has no problems with Wilson.
“His arm strength is as good as I’ve ever seen it,” Carroll said. “He’s tuned in and focused about doing well, working like crazy out here when he gets his chances, leading like he does. I think he’’s ready to put together a heck of a year.”
The Seahawks will break their first huddle of the 2017 season at Green Bay, on Sept. 10. Until then, the forecast is calling for three months of beautiful, everybody pulling for one another on a fired-up mission to succeed.
It’s called optimism, and it’s the only justification for football workouts in June.