Much was made of Percy Harvin’s return to the NFL, just in time to get revenge against his former team, Seahawks.
“It’s just all love,” Harvin said in the locker room after Seattle’s 31-25 win over Buffalo. “Like I said, many people seeing the stories and thought everything was this and that, but all the teammates, we all gave each other love. So it’s nothing but love over there.”
Harvin, a member of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning squad in 2013, signed a one-year contract with the Buffalo Bills last week after announcing his retirement in April. The seven-year pro spent the past six months rehabbing numerous injuries and there was some uncertainty about whether he’d be physically ready to play.
Harvin had multiple run-ins with teammates during his season and a half in Seattle, and the Seahawks made a surprising mid-season trade in 2014, sending one of the NFL’s most electrifying players to the Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick.
Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner told John Clayton on Tuesday that the Seahawks expected Harvin to “have an extra chip on his shoulder,” but the Monday Night Football cameras caught Harvin talking with Richard Sherman during warmups. The 28-year-old Harvin, who was made a captain for the game, said he also spoke with Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Wagner, among others. Harvin said he was even happy to see the 12s.
“You gotta love ‘em,” Harvin said. “I still say they (are) one of the loyalist and craziest fans in the league.”
Sherman said in the locker room that he was “happy” to see Harvin back on the field and that his former teammate definitely still looked the part.
“I’m happy for him; I’m happy that he’s back out there,” Sherman said. “I thought that he kind of left a lot out there. He’s too talented a player and in his freakin’ prime. I hated to see him retire early so I’m sure he’s gonna come back and hopefully have a great season and next year continue what he put out.
“He’s built like a little tank. There’s only a couple guys built like that. It’s him, Adrian Peterson, Megatron (Calvin Johnson), and a couple guys.”
Harvin didn’t catch a pass on Monday night but called his first outing “a success.” Bills coach Rex Ryan said after the game that the team plans to try and get Harvin back into football shape, noting “clearly he is a weapon for us.” Harvin said the team planned to keep his snap count to around 20, though he wasn’t sure if he actually reached that number.
As for the rumors that the timing of his un-retirement had anything to do with the Seahawks, Harvin responded: “Not at all. Like I said, everybody thought it was tension. I wanted to do that, but I said everybody came out there with nothing but love. We was happy to see each other and go against each other. People keep forgetting we won the ring together, so it’s no bad blood at all.”
Well, not entirely no bad blood as it pertains to the Bills and Seahawks. While Harvin and his ex-teammates were hunky-dory, that wasn’t the case for the Seahawks and everyone else in royal blue and red.
The Seahawks and Bills took part in a couple extracurriculars after plays ended, including one wrestling match between Jeremy Lane and one of the other Bills’ receivers. Much of the aggression likely stemmed from a bizarre sequence at the end of first half, when Buffalo was attempting a field goal with three seconds left. Prior to the kick attempt, Sherman leaped offsides and ran into kicker James Carpenter, who went down in a heap. Ryan and his brother, assistant coach Rob Ryan, seemed to have words with Sherman after the play, though Sherman said postgame that it was just Rob Ryan “talking to himself.”
On the ensuing Bills drive in the third quarter, Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor airmailed a pass into the Seahawks end zone, into the arms of Sherman, who returned the ball to the 27-yard line. After being tackled, he stood up and locked eyes for a staredown with Rex Ryan. When asked what took place, the Bills coach said: “… He is over on the sideline basically taunting us, so I had some words. I think I said that you’re too good of a player to act like an ass. I think that’s what I said.”
Sherman said during his postgame press conference that he “couldn’t really hear” Ryan after the interception. However, the cornerback told a slightly different story by his locker, calling the exchange “gamesmanship.”
“It was just one of those things. Gamesmanship, is what I call it,” he said. “… I’m a competitor, man. Before the half, he thought it was a dirty play and I’m not a dirty player. I’ve never played like that but I just wanted to let him know, you know what I mean? You come over there and it’s a long day for you.”
Harvin wasn’t surprised by Sherman’s on-field response to Ryan.
“That’s just Sherm being scrappy, being the competitor that he is,” Harvin said. “It’s all part of the game. I’m glad no penalties and nothing serious came about it. Like I said, just football.”