It began as a challenge by Richard Sherman, to force Justin Coleman into a snazzier big-play celebration.
Now Coleman’s kettle jump in Texas has gone far beyond a holiday stunt. It’s become his effort to help some of the Northwest’s neediest.
Coleman, who emerged as a key contributor for Seattle in 2017 as an inside, nickel defensive back following his arrival in a September trade from New England, jumped into a giant, red holiday giving kettle from The Salvation Army after scoring a touchdown in the Seahawks’ win at the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Eve. It was the best moment of Seattle’s otherwise largely disappointing 2017.
Coleman said after that game that Sherman, his teammate and three-time All-Pro cornerback, had goaded him into coming up with a better celebration for a big play. Better, that is, than none--which is what Coleman had before he remembered the giant kettles the Cowboys put behind their end zones for games during each holiday season to promote donations.
To show he wants to do more than just play football, the 24-year-old Coleman didn’t just leave his jump to be only that: a jump and a laugh.
Recently he reached out through his agent to Seattle’s Northwest chapter of The Salvation Army, to ask if the organization would be interested in his fund-raising idea. Then this week he stopped in at The Salvation Army’s community center in White Center, a couple miles south of CenturyLink Field. He visited with the approximately 40 kids in the charitable organization’s after-school program that includes tutoring on homework. He played basketball with them. He autographed pictures.
And he autographed the game jersey he wore during that interception return, touchdown and kettle leap at Dallas.
At Coleman’s request, the jersey is up for auction until 10 p.m. on February 8. The proceeds from the online bidding will benefit The Salvation Army in Seattle.
“It’s the least I can do,” Coleman said on the day of his visit in White Center. “Jumping in the kettle in December felt like the right thing to do, and using that jersey and moment to help those in need also feels like the right thing to do. I hope the auction raises enough to make a big difference to a lot of people.”
The most smile-inducing moment in the Seahawks’ past season now has the chance to bring even more smiles to some of those in our area who could use a couple.
“We are so thankful to Justin for this generous donation and his willingness to raise money for those in need in Seattle,” Salvation Army Captain Anthony Barnes said. “We hope this is the beginning of a long relationship between Justin and The Salvation Army.”
The fact officials in that game penalized Coleman for unsportsmanlike conduct after he jump tells you all you need to know about the league’s player-celebration rules, by the way.
“I’d already pre-planned it,” Coleman said after that win. “I told the guys if I get a pick-six in that end zone, I’m going to jump in the kettle and throw the ball out. It didn’t matter.
“Earlier in the season (Sherman) kept telling me that I didn’t have a celebration, that I needed a celebration. That’s the first thing that came to my mind: ‘Oooohh, we are in Dallas. I see the kettle. Yeah, it’s about time for me to do something.’
“I need to find Richard. He didn’t get off me for that.”
Coleman donating this offseason to benefit the Seattle area speaks to how bright his future is with the Seahawks.
John Schneider trading a seventh-round pick to acquire Coleman from the Patriots days before the 2017 opener was perhaps the general manager’s shrewdest move of the up-and-down year, which ended with the Seahawks out of the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Coleman’s plays on passes and sure tackling in the open field led him to seize the nickel-back job from veteran Jeremy Lane. The Seahawks tried to trade Lane to Houston in late October. When Lane failed his physical with the Texans and returned to Seattle, Coleman’s play kept Lane on the Seahawks’ bench. The only reason Seattle didn’t release Lane then was all of his $4 million for last season was guaranteed.
Not so now. The Seahawks are likely to release Lane this offseason, to save $4.75 million against the salary cap for 2018. Coleman is poised to be Lane’s cheaper, younger replacement for the forseeable future.
Coleman could become a restricted free agent this offseason. But the Seahawks are almost sure to retain him with either a one-year tender offer by next month, or with a new contract. He was that good against inside, slot receivers and everywhere else on Seattle’s defense that has few sure things in the secondary anymore.
Kam Chancellor may not play again because of a neck injury. Sherman is trying to return in 2018 from his own season-ending injury, a torn Achilles tendon. And Earl Thomas seems to be trying to talk--and walk (to the Cowboys’ locker room the day of Coleman’s kettle jump)--his way out of town.
So, yes, it appears Coleman is settling in for an extended stay with Seattle.
The city’s Salvation Army chapter--and those in need that it serves--appreciate that.