Percy Harvin fighting with Seahawks teammate Golden Tate the week before Super Bowl 48. Then another fight with another fellow wide receiver, Doug Baldwin in the 2014 preseason, just before the team was to leave for an exhibition in Oakland.
Those stories went from whispered while Harvin was in Seattle to confirmed after the Seahawks traded their formerly coveted weapon in the middle of the 2014 season to the New York Jets. The deal was pretty much a bag of kicking tees -- basically to improve the Seahawks by subtracting him.
Harvin told The Buffalo News upon his arrival to the Bills in the summer of 2015 he felt Tate and Baldwin were jealous of him and saw him as a threat to their playing time and success.
“I felt like they were acting like kids,” Harvin told The News on Aug. 15, 2015.
Now Harvin is back in Seattle. He returned on Tuesday to Buffalo from the retirement he started in April, and Bills coach Rex Ryan said he is “confident” the 28-year-old wide receiver and kick returner will play Monday night when Buffalo (4-4) plays at the Seahawks (4-2-1).
Harvin lasted not even 1½ tumultuous seasons in Seattle that included injuries, flashes of brilliance and weird disappearances for long stretches. He played in just six regular-season games over the 2013 and ‘14 regular seasons. Tired of getting smashed by the Cowboys on bubble screens and short passes Dallas knew was coming to him, Harvin refused to go back in a September 2014 game. He had only one catch beyond 10 yards among his 22 receptions with Seattle in 2014.
He played in just one regular-season game in 2013. That was the year general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll traded a first-round and a seventh-round pick in ‘13 plus a third-round choice in ‘14 to the Minnesota Vikings to get Harvin. The Seahawks then signed him for six years and $67 million, with $25.5 million guaranteed.
When the Seahawks dumped him to Ryan’s Jets just as Seattle was leaving team headquarters on a Friday afternoon for its flight to a Sunday game in St. Louis, Harvin became the biggest mistake of Schneider’s and Carroll’s 6 1/2 years leading Seattle. The Seahawks got back just 23 regular-season receptions for that $25.5 million guaranteed.
But this past week nobody in the Seahawks’ locker or coaching rooms said anything negative toward Harvin.
"I have no animosity to him. I loved him when he was here," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "I loved him as a teammate and as a person. I’m excited he’s back on the field."
Wagner said the perception Harvin was a divisive force that fractured the Seahawks’ locker room "all media stuff. I just judge off of me. He was a great person to me, always ‘chopped it up.’ He treated me well. All of our conversations were really genuine.
"He just seemed like a really good person, to me."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll thought of Harvin’s return for a touchdown of the second-half kickoff in the rout of Denver in Super Bowl 48 when asked to describe Harvin’s time in Seattle.
"Great. Great Super Bowl. Phenomenal effect he had on us then," Carroll said.
"We just had to make an adjustment on the roster and we did it. It was just something we had to do, football-wise."
Harvin had 29 catches and a touchdown over the final eight games of 2014 with the Jets. With all the guarantees gone in that contract he’d signed with Seattle, the Jets released him. He then signed a one-year, $6 million contract with Buffalo for 2015 but played in just five games for the Bills last season.
The Bills’ injuries at wide receiver prompted them to contact Harvin recently to see if he was interested in returning. Now that he’s back, don’t expect a huge splash in his seventh day on a team since last season. He last played in a game 13 months ago. He’s likely to get situational snaps at wide receiver, and if he is a kickoff returner Steven Hauschka usually booms Seahawks kickoffs deep into or through the end zone for touchbacks, anyway. Buffalo has a bye next week, so Harvin may not be nearly full go until after that.
“He would come back the week the week we play him,” Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril joked about his former teammate, laughing.
“He’s a wide receiver, so if you’re in shape and can catch, you have a good chance of playing I guess. When he was here, we used to say he was like the Bugatti --you just bring it out on game day. So it’s kind of the same thing. They went and got a Bugatti, I guess.”
Buffalo media asked Harvin last week upon his return about the extra motivation of facing his former Seahawks in his first game back.
“I’m self-motivated regardless of what team it is, who I am playing against,” Harvin said.
“Playing a team doesn’t really matter to me."