Salk: Seahawks may be less fun, but it’s unfair to call them unlikable

Jan 18, 2017, 12:19 PM

“It’s time for Seattle to shut up. Bennett, all of ‘em. I loved it. Shut up. … All they are now is an ordinary, washed-up former champion and they run their mouths and tell you what they’re not gonna talk about, not gonna do. Them and their over-caffeinated coach, who clearly stops at every corner in Seattle and drinks something. One of those latte-something-something special grande. Shut up, Seattle. You guys are overrated now. You don’t win anything. Shut up. It’s over.” –Michael Wilbon on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, Jan. 16.

People have been piling on the Seahawks of late, specifically when it comes to the character of certain players. Beyond Wilbon’s PTI rant, Seattle Times columnist Matt Calkins wrote that the Seahawks are no longer likable, citing Michael Bennett’s profanity-laden tirade aimed at a Seattle reporter after their loss last weekend to the Falcons, Richard Sherman’s string of outbursts and Earl Thomas’ blaming of Tom Brady for the loss to Atlanta, among multiple anecdotes.

Mike Salk of 710 ESPN Seattle isn’t joining in, as he said this question of likability is unfair to the majority of Seahawks who are worthy of our esteem.

“I don’t know that they are unlikable. I think that really limits and takes away a lot of the accomplishments of really likable people on this team,” Salk said Tuesday. “I think that unfortunately glosses over Russell Wilson, what he does in the community and how fun it is to watch him. It glosses over Doug Baldwin’s maturation. It glosses over the fact that, for the most part, they have been removed from really bad scandals and off-field behavior. That Michael Bennett, while you may not like or care for the way he’s treated a few journalists or even other players at times, doesn’t get in big trouble, is for the most part a really good guy. I’m sorry, I just don’t know that calling them unlikable is a fair characterization.”

Wilbon and Calkins are not the only ones who think the team had a tough time controlling their emotions in 2016, with head coach Pete Carroll acknowledging Monday on 710 ESPN Seattle that it’s an area the team needs to work on. He even took responsibility for the fact that the Seahawks haven’t handled losing as well as they should.

“That’s not the way we want to show who we are, what we are,” Carroll said. “However, it is what we did, it is what we showed, and so there’s some areas to get better at and to fix and to be restraining when we can. But I don’t think we’re very good at that and I’m taking credit for that and I gotta do better.”

Members of the Seahawks were active in social issues off the field this season, with Cliff Avril’s pledge to build homes in Haiti for each of his sacks and the team linking arms as a sign of unity in response to Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, among other things.

While Sherman and Bennett might not have made any new fans with their 2016 outbursts, Salk, who is a vocal critic of how the Seahawks handle themselves during losses, believes unlikable is wrong the word. He said Bennett and Sherman’s passion and occasional anger is not on par with the emotions directed at Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has twice been accused of sexual assault.

More than anything, Salk said, this team might have “lost some of their fun factor” after a trying season. The personalities, though, generally changed for the better.

“Doug Baldwin, I thought, was more likable this year than in any other season I can remember him in Seattle,” Salk said. “But he wasn’t talking about fun things, he was talking about really serious issues that face the country and a huge group of people. But that’s not fun.

“Richard Sherman, when he’s getting mad at (NFL commissioner Roger) Goodell and the rest of the league, I tend to agree with him in how he views the whole union relationship,” Salk added. “But that’s not fun.”

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Salk: Seahawks may be less fun, but it’s unfair to call them unlikable