It’s almost a cliche at this point that if the stat is you and x, then you’ve done alright. In Seattle, when the ‘x’ is Steve Largent and you, it’s equally special. That’s where Doug Baldwin finds himself as he walks away from the Seahawks and the game.
Baldwin, who along with all-world safety Kam Chancellor, was released from his contract on Thursday in an official statement by the only team both had known in the NFL.
For Chancellor it was a year in the making after he announced the likely end of his career in May 2018; For Doug though, it’s a stunning conclusion to an off-season process which has sped through from whispers, goodbyes-without-saying-goodbye to the release yesterday all in a little over four months.
After a 2018 season which was hampered by injuries and from the outside, a struggle in every playing facet for Baldwin, the off-season did little to change this course. Numerous ‘procedures’ heightened the chatter of Baldwin having played his final NFL snap.
It was lit a little larger by Seahawks GM John Schneider and Head coach Pete Carroll confirming that the former Stanford WR was in the process to call it a career. It’s confirmation on Thursday put an end to one of the more popular Seahawks’ careers in this era and generation of several contenders, Baldwin appears to have a different pedestal from which he is perched.
He entered the league an after-thought, in a player-strike affected draft process, it was a handwritten letter from Schneider which swung the Seahawks for the east coast kid looking to build on his collegiate west coast roots. The presence of his best friend from college helped too.
For the next near-decade, and from minute one, Doug set about changing the direction of a franchise, breaking down the UDFA barriers to being revered contributors and at the heart of it, set the tone on and off the field for so much the Seahawks accomplished with Baldwin in the ranks.
Where his college friend Richard Sherman voiced his displeasure about everything and brought eyes to the ascension underway in Seattle by proclaiming his higher quality than Skip Bayless and meme-ing Tom Brady, Baldwin did it with a similar process, just with a different tact and tone.
Whilst he told Cris Carter to ‘google him’ after Super Bowl 48 and asking Deion Sanders if he was OK now, Baldwin was someone who was deliberate, considered and wildly smart,. He went from the record-breaking rookie to the offense’s key cog and vocal leader as the team transitioned with the cornerstones being lopped off over the past 18 months. Doug remained and asserted it was no different.
But whilst his best friend Sherman seemed to disregard the ‘protect the team’ line, Baldwin found a way to tightrope it. He voiced his displeasure with context, awareness of a bigger picture and with a respect of a process. It’s why his departure stings somewhat differently to those we’ve seen over the past 18 months or so.
On field his importance is shown with that opening line, him and Steve Largent, that’s all there pretty much is with the receiver position in Seattle..
Baldwin finishes with 493 catches, 6563 yards, 49 Touchdowns. His impact is measured far beyond stats. Work in the community- Baldwin has talked about wanting to stay in the area in his post-playing career and seeing through the work with his foundations in Renton and the wider state. He’s helping build a community center in the city, he’s been into local government pushing for change on an deep-rooted issue for people with a similar background, minus the platform Baldwin has had and will continue to have.
Over in the UK, our local teams, and sports stars appear cut adrift from a day-to-day life. In Seattle and with Doug Baldwin, that is not the case. From 8,000 miles away the connection he builds with those people who he crosses seem to fall away in unbridled appreciation. He is a person and an NFL player to be proud of and, for him it seems, it always was in that order for him too.
Baldwin talked about a WOOTS mentality, but Baldwin’s mentality, his work ethic, his god-given ability to play at such a high level sees him be, in a decade of decadence for Seahawks fans, as the archetypal Seahawk.
Driven, smart, brash-when-necessary and wildly productive and ‘clutch’ when the time came for the toe-drag.
The reaction to his departure shows the appreciation for him is unashamed and unrelenting; but as he leaves the playing field and takes what he has said will be a year off to ‘re-calibrate Doug Baldwin, the husband, father and man’’. But for Seahawks fans from Renton to London and beyond, he won’t be the one thing he was back in the 2011 Draft.
Never Forgotten. Thank You DB89.