Ever since head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over in the Pacific Northwest, they have introduced new-found belief systems and philosophies. Long gone are the days of Mike Holmgren and his coaching staff.
For Seattle Seahawks fans, this has proven to be a good thing, especially during the draft.
Over the course of four drafts, Carroll and Schneider have hit more often than not on their selections. Offensive tackle Russell Okung, safety Earl Thomas, wide receiver Golden Tate, cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker Bobby Wagner and quarterback Russell Wilson have all stepped in immediately and played crucial roles in Seattle’s success.
Aside from contributing right away, all six of the players mentioned above embody a passionate attitude that complements their style of play. However, there are times when emotions run too high. This, in turn, leads to a particular demeanor that can prove to be detrimental to the team.
A prime example of this happened on Monday Night Football against the St. Louis Rams in Week 8.
Late in the third quarter, Wilson hooked up with Tate for an 80-yard touchdown strike. It was a beautiful play all the way around. The second-year signal-caller out of Wisconsin executed a well-designed play-action fake while keeping his eyes down the field.
After he spotted Tate down the far sideline, he let the ball rip and gave Tate an opportunity to make a big-time play. Lo and behold, the Golden Domer took advantage of the throw and made an absurd catch.
Unfortunately, the improbable reception was overshadowed by Tate’s foolish antics. On his way to the end zone, he started taunting Rams safety Rodney McLeod at the 30-yard line. Consequently, his ill-advised shenanigans drew a 15-yard penalty that was enforced on the ensuing kickoff.
Coach Carroll was less than impressed by Tate, and he had some choice words for the fourth-year player when he arrived on the sideline.
Here’s what Carroll told the media about this situation following the game, via Todd Dybas of The News Tribune:
That has nothing to do with our football. That is not the way we want to play, that is not the way we want to present who we are and all of that. He at times has demonstrated like a young man, he is more mature now and he said something about it. He is a playful, wonderful spirited guy who had too much fun at the wrong time. That was not the right thing to do.
Carroll’s right: Sure, Tate probably got caught up in the moment, but this isn’t the first time he has let his fervor run high. Versus the Arizona Cardinals on a punt return in Week 7, he started staring down long snapper Mike Leach prior to diving into the end zone with style.
Even though his return was nullified due to an illegal block above the waist, his cocky style of play didn’t go unnoticed. Don’t think for one second that the NFL league office and officials aren’t taking notice of Tate’s repeated behavior, because they are.
The league has made an effort in recent years to crack down on taunting. According to Doug Farrar of SI.com, Section 3 of the rule book was redone in 2012 to outline the behavior that will be penalized as unsportsmanlike conduct.
Here is a list of the actions that will draw a 15-yard penalty:
“Sack dances, home run swing, incredible hulk; spiking the ball; spinning the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent [prolonged and with provocation]; or dancing.”
Its safe to say Tate’s conduct on the field (now and in years past) falls under this category.
With that being said, should Coach Carroll and the rest of the organization keep Tate on a short leash if he continues to act up and cost the team precious yards? There’s no question they should. At some point in the season, his boneheaded actions will come back to haunt the Seahawks if it continues.
Despite the fact Tate has emerged as Wilson’s favorite target, there’s no place in the NFL for such childish mockeries. Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to ensure players are respecting the game and honoring its code of conduct.
Goodell, like any other CEO, has a business to protect. He wants to safeguard the league from things that could tarnish the NFL’s image. Some may refer to the NFL as the “No Fun League,” and that’s understandable; however, take the time to think about what you would do if you were the commissioner.
Odds are you would want the NFL to be viewed as honorable under your watch as well.
Also, let's not forget Goodell's office has fined players before for taunting penalties. Back in 2012, quarterback Jay Cutler was fined $10,000 after he threw the ball at a Minnesota Vikings defender when the play was over.
The throw was soft and harmless, but the NFL wanted to take a stand. They wanted to send a message to players that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. Whether the fine seems necessary or unnecessary is irrelevant. The directive was all about getting the point across loud and clear.
If Cutler is called for a taunting penalty again that the NFL views as malicious, he will undoubtedly be fined again. This goes for Tate as well. In all probability, he will find himself paying a $10,000 fine by the end of the week.
Like Cutler, Tate will be dishing out even more money the next time it happens.
Additionally, the Seahawks organization also has a right to reprimand Tate. They have the power to add to his fine and discipline him internally. Moronic moves often lead to strict punishment, which often makes the original action not worth it in the end.
Nonetheless, it appears as if Tate got the message Carroll was trying to send in his postgame press conference. The outspoken receiver spoke with a humble voice when he answered questions around his locker following Seattle’s victory, via NFL.com:
That was immature of me. Hurt my team. I've gotta stay composed. ... Act like I've been there before. I gotta apologize to our special teams. I put them in an awkward situation, but more happy to get up and learn from it and move forward.
Young players who are still getting used to the spotlight often need certain situations to help shape their mental outlook for the long haul. Tate’s predicament from Week 8 will prove to be a valuable situation that helped him grow up and mature.
With Tate scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the end of the year, there’s no doubt he will be on his best behavior from here on out.