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Huard: Seahawks starters skipping start of offseason program a product of individual empowerment

Richard Sherman is reportedly among six Seahawks starters skipping the start of offseason workouts. (AP)

Six players who help make up the Seahawks’ veteran core are reportedly absent from the start of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts. Whether those absences should be of concern to coaches or fans remains is debatable, but 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard said Wednesday that it appears to be the result of years of individual empowerment provided by head coach Pete Carroll.

“I think the empowerment and the individuality that these players have, that they get, that they have been empowered in that building through Coach Carroll in his messaging, I think this is the dual-side of that sword,” Huard said. “That they also feel empowered and entitled to do what I want to do.”

Ed Werder reported that six starters are missing from the voluntary workouts. The players include safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, defensive lineman Michael Bennett and cornerback Richard Sherman, whose absence could be related to the possibility of Seattle trading him. Werder’s report didn’t specify the other two starters, though he said he believes defensive end Cliff Avril is one of them.

Huard noted that Carroll frequently stresses a core philosophy of brotherhood and complete buy-in. Huard said former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch seemed to be the first to dilute that philosophy with the adjoining belief in individual empowerment.

“Marshawn was the first one in Pete Carroll’s whole messaging and the whole team philosophy … that said, ‘Nope, not gonna do it, not gonna compete in March, not gonna compete in April or May or June or July or August. I’ll compete for you 60 minutes on the field on a given Sunday,” Huard said. “And I think Marshawn was an incredibly unique figure that was cut from a cloth very different than most and, unfortunately, I think that was the start of some of this individual empowerment, that I can do what I want to do on my terms and on my schedule. And I really hope that these (absent players) find themselves to that facility in Renton over the next three to four weeks as they begin OTAs. They only have nine practices together on the field anyway. Three days of mandatory camp after 13 weeks off. I think the least you could do is get around and be around your teammates.”

Then again, the voluntary workouts are just that: voluntary, as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement. Huard noted that Thomas, Chancellor, and Avril are all coming off injuries. However, that’s also true of cornerback DeShawn Shead and wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who were believed to be in attendance.

Huard said the veterans’ absence is not a good look in terms of leadership. That when one person’s “LLC” becomes more important than the “LLC next to them,” things start to unwind.

“It continues to tell me just the individuality, that empowerment and freedom of expression … which you love and players and covet and players should be thankful for on one end, ultimately destroys team sports, ultimately is what undoes team environments,” Huard said.

Huard said this is what makes dynasties so tough in sports.

“This is why it is so hard when you try to be loyal to your core players, when you’ve got eight or nine guys,” he said. “Because even though they are paid and have been paid handsomely, what to do they want? What do we all want? More.”