He’s on his way to his second Super Bowl in as many seasons.
He’s the lead receiver on the two-time defending NFC champions.
He’s just starting a $13 million contract.
So why is Doug Baldwin so angry?
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The always-simmering Seahawk boiled over again last weekend in the minutes following the miraculous victory over Green Bay that has the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 against New England. He came off the field following the extended postgame celebration there, detoured past the locker room — and yelled a lecture at the 50 or so reporters who were waiting to enter and interview players.
Some of Baldwin’s rant was R-rated as he scanned the throng with his pointed finger. All of it was a high-volume admonishment to “all of you doubting us, counting us out” when Seattle was 3-3 and 6-4 this season, and when it trailed the Packers 16-0 at halftime last weekend.
“Y’all don’t won’t to believe in us? It’s OK, because we believe in ourselves!” Baldwin roared.
“We’ll see you all in the Super Bowl!”
Days later, in the relative calm of the Seahawks’ suburban headquarters, Baldwin explained himself.
“All the frustrations I had in the entire course of that game and the entire course of the season came out,” he said. “I don’t know, man. I’m just a fiery, passionate guy. I don’t try to ruffle feathers on purpose. Sometimes it just happens that way because of the mentality I have.
“It’s not just me, though. It’s everybody in this locker room. We find something that motivates us. Whether it’s Earl Thomas is a first-round draft pick that people were saying he was too small to play the safety position — whatever it may be — all the way down to the undrafted guy, we all find something that motivates us.
“Ultimately, the motivation that I have deep down inside me, that’s never going to change. I just try to try to add stuff. Everyone once in a while I try to add some flair to it.”
The 5-foot-10, 189-pound Baldwin, from Stanford, is one of 22 undrafted players on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster. Jermaine Kearse, whose catch won the NFC title in overtime, went undrafted. So did Chris Matthews; without his onside kick recovery late in last weekend’s game, Seattle wouldn’t be in the Super Bowl.
Garry Gilliam, the offensive tackle whose catch on the fake field goal started the rally past Green Bay, also didn’t get drafted. Neither did standout defensive end Michael Bennett.
That’s why these Seahawks don’t just carry a chip on their shoulder. They carry a boulder.
It’s one of the oldest motivators in sports, the perception of being slighted, doubted or overlooked. For the Seahawks, it’s their essential fuel. It has been for years as coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have rebuilt the formerly meandering franchise into an NFL power with players of certain size, speed and specific skill that others have discarded.
Even in the minutes after becoming the first team in a decade to return to the Super Bowl the season after winning it, this team thrives on that angry edge.
Baldwin regrets that timing.
“Obviously I wish I would have handled things a little bit differently. In that moment I felt like I was taking away from what happened; the team should be celebrated,” he said. “That’s what I felt like, that I was taking away from team aspect of it.
“But, ultimately, I wouldn’t take anything back. I meant what I said, and I feel very strongly about it — obviously.”
Some of Baldwin’s outburst was part of the whiplash of emotions the Seahawks experienced Sunday. They were 21/2 minutes from their season ending, then astoundingly took the lead, then allowed the Packers to tie them before winning in overtime to reach the Super Bowl again.
Some of it was Baldwin’s own relief.
His fumble of a kickoff return in the first quarter led to the field goal that put the Packers ahead 6-0. He said that mistake weighed on him throughout the game, as Seattle still trailed 19-7 with 21/2 minutes left in regulation. He was thinking about it just before his key third-and-7 catch for 35 yards in overtime. That conversion set up Russell Wilson’s winning pass to Kearse on the next snap.
“I wouldn’t even want to think about what would have been going through my mind if we hadn’t won that game,” Baldwin said. “It would have been a rough outcome and a rough few weeks.”
Baldwin got a text following his hallway rant from Richard Sherman across the locker room. Sherman, of course, is well experienced in what can happen following a post-NFC title outburst; his nationally televised tirade against 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree on the field following the 2014 conference championship sparked a national debate on race. Sherman joked this week he was going to offer media-relations training to fellow Seahawk Marshawn Lynch in advance of Super Bowl week.
So when Sherman texted Baldwin after last weekend’s game and the receiver’s public lecture, Baldwin thought his buddy was addressing his rant.
“Hey, where we going to eat?” Sherman asked instead.
This wasn’t the first such outburst this season. In the locker room following the Oct. 12 loss to Dallas he said the Seahawks must “stop BS-ing ourselves” in thinking they were better than they really were.
There’s another chip waiting in Arizona for Baldwin and the Seahawks to carry next week. They will hear how New England’s aggressive, varied, skilled secondary will be able to handle a Seahawks receiving corps Hall of Fame receiver and ESPN commentator Cris Carter has derided as “pedestrian.”
(Carter, by the way, texted Baldwin congratulations and props following the NFC title game.)
If his mates don’t get that message by the end of the Super Bowl’s seemingly endless hype and opinions, Baldwin will create one for them to carry into kickoff.
“Come time for game time,” he said, “I will find something to throw out there to the guys to get them fired up.”
Does Angry Doug Baldwin get tired of being angry so often? How does constantly feeling slighted benefit him and the Seahawks?
“The advantage of it is that you always have something to fall back on in terms of motivation. Not necessarily what people say in the media, but having a true chip, a true boulder, that deep down motivates you,” Baldwin said.
“For me, that’s various things. Sometimes it comes out as you are yelling at somebody specifically. But, really, it’s not someone specifically. It’s just the built-up frustration, whatever it is that motivates you. It’s everyone in this locker room. Everyone has something deep down inside that pushes them further than their limit.”
Baldwin has never played a game without harboring that chip. At least not since he was in, oh, second grade.
“When I was six, seven years old, I don’t think I really understood what it meant to have a chip on your shoulder,” he said. “But as I grew older and guys started getting bigger — and I stayed the same size — I had to find something that would get me over the hump. I wasn’t always the fastest, the strongest or the biggest. I had to find something that would help me out in that aspect.
“A lot of people won’t understand it, because I’m just in this world. That’s me. That’s my makeup. I’m passionate about what I do.”