Doug Baldwin smiled at the question. It was a knowing smile, for sure.
Do you have any thoughts on Initiative 940 passing in Washington?
After all, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl wide receiver lobbied the state capitol and elsewhere for months trying to get passed proposed reforms on the ways the police use deadly force in our state.
“Do I have any thoughts on it? Of course I have thoughts on it,” Baldwin said Wednesday, the day after Election Day.
“I’m ecstatic that it looks like 60 percent of the population that voted agreed that there were some changes that needed to be made to our laws. So I’m very encouraged.”
No, not the normal stuff from a number-one wide receiver four days before a showdown against division leaders, as the Seahawks (4-4) have Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams (7-1).
With Baldwin, it never is.
I asked Baldwin if this was an end or a beginning. I knew the answer, knowing what Baldwin has accomplished toward social justice. He’s started a players’ fund on his team to affect change in our society. He’s written a letter NFL commissioner Roger Goodell co-signed to the Senate Judiciary Committee at the United States Capitol to seek criminal-justice reform. He’s been part of the league-wide Players’ Coalition trying to forge awareness and change with the NFL on societal issues. He’s been advocating for changes to our country’s cash-bail system, which he says unfairly jails citizens of lower socioeconomic status for non-violent and minor offenses, simply because they don’t have money to pay standard bail.
“It is a beginning—unfortunately, my wife would say,” Baldwin said with a grin.
“It is a beginning. I think that, personally, just being involved in a more hands-on way, level, in terms of laws and legislation that impact our everyday lives, really getting invested in what it means to vote, and use your voice and platform to effectuate change in a positive way, it’s hard to go back. Especially when you take so much time to research and to be empathic to opposite viewpoints and see there are opportunities to bring people together, to build bridges and actually have a conversation about things that impact our everyday lives, and to change them for the better. Not only for ourselves in the immediate future, but also further on down the line, for our children and our grandchildren.”
The Stanford graduate, a National Honors Society member growing up in the Florida panhandle, the son of a career law-enforcement officer, again sounded politician-like, almost senatorial. At least what we would hope our politicians and senators sound like in our divisive times: inclusive, empathetic, a uniter, not a divider.
So I asked Baldwin what I’d been meaning to for months: Since he makes more sense than a lot (most) politicians do about issues that affect our society, has the 30-year-old wide receiver given thought to running for public office after his playing days are over?
“I have, honestly,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin could be like another former Seahawks star wide receiver.
Hall of Famer Steve Largent, a Seahawk from the team’s inaugural season in 1976 through ‘89, became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma from 1994-2002.
“If I do (go into politics), it won’t before at least another 15 years,” Baldwin said. “Personally, my main focus and main goal right now is to build my family, and be there for them as much as I possibly can. So, the future children that are, hopefully, soon on the way, being the best father that I can for them.
“So my priority is just like I attack everything else: researching, reading, learning as much as I can from people who have gone through the process of being the best husband and father that I can be.
“Then, if the time comes, and I have time to pursue other interests, then I will.”
Baldwin said that time will also allow him to do what he hasn’t been able to since the Seahawks signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011, then turned him into a $46 million receiver among the best in the NFL.
“To go back to school,” he said, “to learn things that I don’t have the expertise, and broaden my horizons in that way.”