MIKE SALK

Salk: Richard Sherman missed the mark about Seahawks’ changes

Apr 22, 2024, 8:54 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm

Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman...

Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks during a 2017 game against the Los Angeles Rams. (Harry How/Getty Images)

(Harry How/Getty Images)

Things are changing and almost everyone understands it. The Seattle Seahawks will not be the same and we are starting to see the signs.

First, we found out that the basketball hoop had been removed from the team meeting room. No one was too surprised; that hoop was so connected to Pete Carroll that no new coach could possibly run team meetings with it looming over him. It would be like conducting practice with a giant hologram of the former head coach running around in translucent Monarchs! Everyone understands it. It would be impossible to build a new legacy with that symbol staring you in the face.

Non-story.

Former Seahawks RB sees both sides of ‘picture gate’ controversy

But then highly respected Seahawks’ defensive lineman Leonard Williams chatted with the media and relayed that it wasn’t the only change to the facility. Apparently (gasp!), a few of the pictures between the team meeting room and the indoor practice facility had been removed. I’m sure when he said it, there wasn’t a single thought in his mind that he would be starting a debate. He was explaining how important it was that the new group get the opportunity to build their own legacy and to define this new era of Seahawks football. No disrespect to the past, but they wanted to start something new without the constant comparisons to what took place more than a decade ago.

It made perfect sense. Heck, it made me wonder if this had been an impediment for the past few seasons.

But then we heard some were upset about it. At first, I assumed it was more of a straw man argument. Maybe someone in theory was bothered. Maybe you could craft an abstract argument about how this was insulting to the past generation of successful teams. But actually, honest-to-goodness bothered? No one in their right mind would actually be upset, right?

Right. No one who fits that description is upset, especially once they hear all the details. Especially after they learn that it’s just a few pictures in a single small space that will be replaced by digital options. When they are assured that the Ring of Honor and many of the monuments to the franchise’s success stories remain all over the building.

More: Seattle Seahawks GM addresses ‘picture gate’ at team HQ

But that doesn’t rule out every person. No, that doesn’t account for Richard Sherman.

Sherman weighed in on the X conversation between a fan and his former teammate Kam Chancellor, who were debating the issue. When the fan argued that this was common practice, Sherman took exception:

Yea I’m sure every great franchise is removing its legendary players pictures from their building because they can’t ever live up to that. Makes sense. Sure the Ravens don’t have pictures of Ray Lewis and that great defense. I’m sure Pittsburg doesn’t have pictures of all the great moments. I’m sure Dallas, SF, NE all remove pictures of the history of their Franchise because of a new coach. Makes sense.

And later:

Pete Hung a SB banner no other coach in the franchise history has done that. But it’s on brand.

Here are a few thoughts:

• 1. How surprising is it that Sherm didn’t know the whole story before teeing off?

Honestly, not that surprising. To be fair to Sherm, that doesn’t make him any different than most of the other national figures who opined about this last week. Rich Eisen took it as a sign that Pete Carroll wasn’t going to be around much anymore (no kidding!). Pat McAfee thought they were erasing any signs of the past, like he had seen in Indianapolis late in his own career. That wasn’t the case either.

I don’t expect national voices to understand each part of a local issue. I’ve done some national radio and it’s nearly impossible to be as informed as the locals are – you have to treetop a lot of subjects. But maybe you expected a former Seahawk to have a little more info? He does, after all, have the ability to call some of the folks he presumably still knows in that building.

If he had, he would have learned that this was just a few pictures and that plenty remain. He’d know that the Doug Baldwin jersey is still there. He’d know that the majority of what came down were signs bearing the slogans that were specific to Pete. Mike Macdonald might want his players to be “all in,” but maybe he has a different way of messaging it? I guess he never bothered to ask. Why? Because…

• 2. Richard Sherman doesn’t care about the Seahawks. At all. He’s made that clear many times in many ways. He doesn’t care about the franchise, the fans, or anyone else. What he cares about is Richard Sherman. And that is why he’s spouting off.

If he cared about the team, he’d know that a new coach needs to forge his own path. He’d listen to a respected player like Williams explain how much he relishes the opportunity to build something new. He’d think about this from the perspective of the franchise rather than simply his own. He’d think like the winner he was on the field rather than the person who’s taken a series of (alleged) L’s off of it.

But no. He doesn’t care what helps this team win more in the future. He doesn’t want the fans to experience a new era of success. That might take away from what he and his mates accomplished a DECADE ago. Much like his pal Russell Wilson (of whom he is so often so antagonistic), this is about preserving the legacy of the past rather than allowing for a successful future. And as Pete is fond of saying, it couldn’t be more obvious.

• 3. Sherman is no stranger to hypocrisy, but this is another great example of it. I just love that his post makes it sound like he respects Pete and this franchise too much to let a newcomer erase their accomplishments. It’s nice that he has come around to that – too bad he couldn’t have acted that way when he was playing for Pete.

In fact, my suggestion is that they use the new digital monitor that will hang in the space once occupied by the picture of his famous tip to show a video loop of his temper tantrum on the sidelines after he blew a coverage against Atlanta and refused to acknowledge it. Remember, he chose to blame everyone else and pushed aside his teammates when they tried to bring him back into the fold.

Or maybe they could put up a plaque for the “Kumbaya Room” and use it for other players who let their emotions get the better of them rather than selflessly thinking of what’s best for the team. Just a few options.

• 4. Like so many of Sherman’s outbursts, there is a little clue into what may really be going on, and it lives in the last line of his second post when he writes that this is “on brand.” What does he mean? For whom is it “on brand?” For the franchise? The front office? Mike Macdonald?

I doubt it. My guess is this is a reference to general manager/president of football operations John Schneider (although he obviously feels more comfortable hedging without a direct mention). If Pete was the father figure who lavished love and praise on the players of that generation, it was John who (in their eyes) was the bad guy. It was John who had to think realistically and move on from players who no longer had the same value they once did. And since it’s John who remained once Pete was gone, it’s easy to look at the one left standing and assume he’s trying to consolidate his power and erase the past. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sherm is one of many former players that feels as if they need to choose sides in the divorce.

He might be right about that. History has shown that while Sherman doesn’t always have a realistic view of his own actions (i.e. claiming that “no one knows what happened” in a verbal exchange with a reporter despite the recorded evidence that told us exactly what had occurred), he often will hint at a nuanced view of what is happening behind the scenes of the organization. He certainly gave us enough clues as to the reality of Russell Wilson’s time in Seattle. I don’t know exactly to what he is referring in this comment, but I’ll have my eyes and ears open. Maybe we’ll find out one day.

But for now, I would suggest that everyone (including Sherman and any other ex-player) upset about the changing of a few pictures take a deep breath and think about the real goal. The goal is to win championships. And if offering a new coach and new players a way to build their own style and their own legacy gets them a step closer to that goal, then support it. No one can take away the memories of the past and no one wants to stop honoring those immense accomplishments. They just want to celebrate new ones as well. And the new people in the organization deserve the opportunity to forge their own path to the top.

Without worrying about offending those looking for a reason to be offended.

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