RENTON Sure, there is the not-so-minor caveat that their environment contains 53 players instead of 300 million citizens. But to hear their coach and one of their most prominent voices tell it, the Seahawks have done what our society has failed to do.
Achieve racial harmony.
That is what they say they will show before Sunday’s season opener against Miami.
Top wide receiver Doug Baldwin refused to address Friday what exactly the players have decided to do on the field before the game. Rumors were the players will be locked arm in arm, Black and White players lined up in alternating order.
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“I will tell you this,” Baldwin told me in the locker room following the Seahawks’ practice Friday, “you will like what we do on Sunday.”
Later, Baldwin said “we never said there was a protest” when Seattle’s players talked this week about discussions inside the locker room on how to make a pregame statement on racial inequality in our country. “What did we say we were going to do is, it’s a demonstration of unity.”
Those discussions and Sunday’s plan involved coach Pete Carroll, as well.
Baldwin’s comments came hours after the mayor of DuPont, a city in Pierce County just outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord about an hour south of CenturyLink Field, said his city was calling off its Seahawks celebration this weekend in light of controversy surrounding recent sitting by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane during national anthems before NFL preseason games, and Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem before a game last week.
“They have a right to do whatever they want to,” Baldwin said of the people of DuPont.
“See my smile? I have a smile on my face. I am extremely thankful for the men that we have in this locker room. For their resiliency. For their intellect. And for their love and passion for one another. I hope that in our demonstration of unity, the people who are watching will see that.”
Sounds from here, again, to hear the Seahawks tell it, that DuPont’s mayor and many others mistook Baldwin’s “demonstration of unity” tweet on Thursday as “demonstration” equals “protest.”
So far, the only Seahawk to protest during the anthem has been Lane. He sat last week as the national anthem just before Seattle’s preseason finale at Oakland, and said Monday he was going to do it again this weekend at CenturyLink Field.
Friday, Lane said “I have no comment” about what he will or won’t do before Sunday’s game.
Baldwin, a National Honor Society member growing up in Florida and a Stanford graduate, said a week of discussions about social issues inside the Seahawks’ locker room mushroomed to include players from 26 other NFL teams.
“I’m very thankful for my teammates,” Baldwin said. “There are phenomenal guys in this room that are capable of having intellectual conversations. That, moreso, is what I’m happiest about.
“We’ve been in a conversation threat across the league with 26 different teams about this topic.”
The Seahawks’ 20-something core of stars and promiment voices -- including Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner, among others -- have been together and won together for at least four years now. Baldwin said that is a factor in how united the locker room is on this issue and many others.
That’s the unity the Seahawks players instead to show the country on Sunday before their opener.
“We are very connected,” Baldwin said. “We have great leaders in this locker room that force the players to be vulnerable to each other. We have very high standards. We hold each other accountable to those standards. And in doing so you build a more-than-surface-level relationship with each other. That allows us to have the difficult conversations to be unified and together as a team.”’
Carroll, 64, sounded like a proud father talking about how his team is dealing with social issues while still focusing on their jobs: playing football.
“Our players, I’m so proud of the process that they’ve gone through as they are working to really make the choices and decisions to do what they want to do. Very thoughtful, very respectful, honoring that which should be recognized. I’m just really proud of the way they’ve gone through it.
“They have a conscious about them. ... These are young men that are growing. They are trying to figure out the world themselves, too. They want to try to make sense of how they can have impact, how they can influence others. I just couldn’t be more proud of the way they’ve gone through it, and what has happened as they’ve gone through it.”