In the beginning of June, the Seahawks finally gathered for an organized, unofficial two-day workout at the University of Washington; no longer one of the few teams to not work out in a large group this offseason.
The workouts at the Dempsey Indoor Facility featured about 40 players on the first day, less on the second; mostly signed/unsigned Seahawks with a few former UW athletes and other NFL players in the mix.
The list of Seahawks on hand on day two, provided by the Seattle PI: Sean Locklear, Chris Spencer, Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst, Isaiah Stanback, Justin Forsett, Mike Williams, Craig Terrill, John Carlson, Ruvell Martin, Kelly Jennings, Russell Okung, Aaron Curry, Marshawn Lynch, Roy Lewis, Colin Cole, Deon Butler, Jordan Babineaux, Dexter Davis, Pep Levingston, David Hawthorne, Malcolm Smith, Anthony McCoy, Ben Obomanu and Marcus Trufant.
The workouts have been going on informally for months—Matt Hasselbeck and John Carlson using parking lots in the biggest of binds during typical Seattle wet winter weather.
The larger workout after Memorial Day was pioneered by Justin Forsett through a variety of social media outlets; a combination of boredom, a craving for camaraderie and the need for football reps were the incentives to get the workouts going—a former seventh-round pick, Forsett has spent his entire NFL career going the extra mile to maintain a roster spot. And as noted earlier in the week, I feel he is putting himself in position to be a leader for this team
Matt Hasselbeck, despite both his free-agent status and self-proclaimed role as secretary, played the part of a coach and leader; “under Hasselbeck, this 45-minute weight session, and the subsequent hour-long football drills that took place at the UW’s Dempsey Indoor facility, looked as disciplined as any organized team activity.”
Hasselbeck reportedly led the workouts with an order that shows his value to this organization goes well beyond the field, providing players with workout guidelines and calling the plays during 7-on-7 drills—as Forsett noted, the terminology is very similar to the Mike Holmgren system and not too different from last year’s offense. Both John Carlson and Mike Williams praised Hasselbeck for his coaching efforts.
As of May 18, nothing had changed for Hasselbeck on the contract front, and it appears nothing has really changed in general for Hasselbeck; we’re now collectively beating dead horse No. 2 in the continued speculation for his 2011 home. Regardless of his future, he played a major role facilitating the workout process.
So now that the Seahawks have joined the group of teams to publicize their workouts this offseason, one might presume they have put themselves on a “level” playing field with the rest of the league; that’s not necessarily the case.
As per usual during the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime, things were done a little differently at the Seahawks unofficial workouts organized by Hasselbeck and Forsett; which included diligent preparation and a unique approach aimed at creating as efficient and effective a program as possible.
The UW extension of the Pete Carroll and Chris Carlisle Philosophy
Not only did Hasselbeck and Forsett line up premier facilities for their first public workout, they garnered the “pro bono” guidance of current University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian and strength coach Ivan Lewis—both part of Carroll’s staff at USC and they have maintained a solid relationship with their former employer.
In addition, the current UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt was also a member of the USC staff. The USC connection is running strong in the Seattle football family amongst the Huskies and Seahawks.
I’ve chronicled the role lineage in coaching background and philosophy continually plays in the Seahawks organizational building process; the 2011 coaching staff is one that has many common threads throughout their collective pasts, a shared mentality of how to approach the game—Let’s here acknowledge Carroll’s “buy in” mantra, which needs no further explanation.
The workouts are a crystal clear exemplification that the presumed leaders of this locker room get it; I stated back in February that Carroll and Schneider wouldn’t let the lockout weaken the program mentality of the Seahawks players, and it hasn’t; a good portion of players appear to have made it their priority to stick to the Seahawks program closely when given the opportunity.
Hasselbeck contacted Lewis for help in creating a supplemental weight training program to begin once their current team program expired, that program issued before the lockout began. Lewis wrote a workout for the offensive line, quarterbacks and a variety of players—all players needing different regimens given the nuances of their positions.
Hasselbeck, via the Seattle PI: “We’re creatures of habit that way, used to getting world class coaching in the weight room and we don’t get that right now because we’re not allowed to talk to our coaches. Ivan has really come through and really saved the day for us that way.”
Lewis worked with Seahawks strength coaches Chris Carlisle and Jamie Yanchar at USC; he knows the type of training program needed to complement Carroll’s football philosophy—Chris Carlisle is hoping his players buy into the Seahawks way of strength training. He had a “phone book” thick program ready for the players as of May.
The involvement of Lewis in the Seahawks unofficial offseason program all but assures the players will be started down the right path—acknowledging here I believe there is a strong chance that at the least, parts of this "phone-book" are currently in the hands of Seahawks players via the regimen created by Lewis.
“We’ve definitely been helping them out with anything they need, anything they want or any kind of technique they want to do,” Lewis said. “We’ve definitely been helping them out, giving them fresh ideas…I think they’ve had a lot of—being able to use our fields, our equipment, big spaces—they have open areas. There’s a lot more stuff they can do that maybe they can’t do at a 24-hour Fitness or other spots.”
The Seahawks had problems with discipline on the field in 2010, but they have thus far proven in the 2011 offseason they understand that discipline during a dubious situation could mean another division championship, and sooner than many pundits are forecasting.
The Seahawks' offseason program expired, and they went to the nearest football pharmacy for a re-fill.
I’ve already introduced in detail the growing presence of Emile Durkheim’s sociological idea of the Totem and Totemic principles—the physical symbol of a given group and the resulting effort, belief and discipline those members exude in representing and embodying the Totem—in the Seahawks organization; an organization that believes in building a relationship with the community off the field and enhancing the collective energy of the 12th man, using more than conventional practices to attract the fan base.
As previously noted, all 32 NFL teams have a Totem; the effect the idea has on each team is only as strong as the efforts the given organization puts into creating a familial feeling around the franchise; the other side of the relationship being how strongly do primarily the players, and on a background level the fans, believe in the structure in place.
The goal of both the players and the organization is to make sure each party acts individually with the collective success of the team the overarching goal.
Unfortunately, in an offseason where coaching staffs are unable to survey their players, the continuity throughout each NFL organization is compromised to varying extents. The potential of the Totem isn’t nearly as strong without the constant interaction of the organization with both players and fans.
With that, I’d like to expand upon the idea of the Totem and introduce deceased French philosopher Michel Foucault’s ideas on power and discipline to the fray, through the application of the theory of Panopticism.
The presence of Panopticism in Seahawks football
NFL organizations are relying on their players to be as disciplined as possible during the lockout, and to be prepared to start the season whenever that day comes.
However, the NFL lockout, in simplest terms, is a power struggle between the owners and players; one may choose to go as far as to say the players, and even coaches, are prisoners of the lockout.
The coaches limited by the guidelines of their employers—the owners—and the players limited by the organization that collaborates with the owners to form the league—commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL.
In short, the coaches have lost their power of surveillance over the players, unable to coach them in their preferred manner; players don’t have to negotiate the fear of scrutiny from their coaches.
Therefore, coaches are wondering if players are practicing correctly and if they are putting 100 percent effort into their craft.
The occurrence of reduced surveillance provides a bridge into the necessity for exploring Foucault’s theory.
Foucault’s ideas originated from the study in the shift of discipline and punishment; from the public spectacle driven methods of torture and execution during the late 1700s to the rehabilitative practices of punishment through discipline that began soon thereafter.
In addition to the original focus, the structured, routinized behavior founded through Foucault’s ideas is present in many modern day militias, the notion of a “perfect camp” structure and “time-tables” in particular.
Foucault argues that in modern day society all mechanisms of power derive from the need to institutionally supervise, measure and correct. Foucault describes “Bentham’s Panopticon—a circular building with an observation tower in place—is the architectural figure of this composition.”
The Panopticon itself is also a laboratory where behavioral experiments take place. The presence of the physical structure embodies the goal of the architectural design; aimed at using the power of surveillance.
From the Panopticon, Foucault birthed the idea of Panopticism; the goal of the Panopticon is to induce the subject “into a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power.”
“Power must be both visible and unverifiable; the subject constantly knows where power comes from and the fear of surveillance, not the physical act of, causes the individual to act accordingly; a visual, non individualized form of hierarchical power.”
In short, individuals behave in a given manner because they fear they will be seen if acting improperly. Furthermore, the consequences of misbehavior are clear, further conditioning subjects to act within the guidelines that facilitate more efficient collective action.
NFL players are conditioned to work out this time of the year in the capacity of OTA’s, under the surveillance of their coaches—as Hasselbeck noted during the workouts, “world class” coaching is something most NFL players are accustomed to.
Most players have had to work under less ideal conditions this offseason when compared to the Seahawks' recent activities.
Aaron Curry’s claim that the workouts made him forget about the lockout for a couple hours is a clear indication of how routinized NFL players are in their yearlong workouts but also how their regiment is part of their daily livelyhood.
During workout interviews, Mike Williams explained that boredom is seeing two movies in the same day before the sun goes down; Max Unger frustrated about all the “red tape” surrounding the situation.
The frustration around the lockout is that the players can’t practice as they need, with their coaches; maintaining camaraderie is one of the most important aspects of the offseason program.
Totemic principles can only become actuality if those who are guided by the principles are willing to put in the effort to elevate themselves and the collective whole, via implementation of those principles—the Seahawks players need to abide by the lockout-guidelines of the organization to the fullest; in a phrase, “buy in.”
The presence of Carroll and his staff is visible within the Seahawks unofficial workouts, in both the form of Sarkisian and his staff's aid and in the actual workouts designed by Lewis.
Not only have the players appeared to buy in, they have bought in to the extent they are willing to seek out individuals who will help them train as if they were actually being trained by the Seahawks coaches.
The structure, detail and discipline of the workouts coupled with the fact that the coaches implementing these ideas are direct disciples of Carroll and his staff, displays the strong panoptic effect that the practices of the Seahawks' organization has on the players.
A group of players that worked quietly, going about their business in an effort to avoid being the weak link during a potentially abbreviated training camp; eventually appearing as subjects under the direct watch of the University of Washington football program, but more importantly, under the modified supervision of Pete Carroll and the Seahawks' staff.