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Seahawks Receivers Use Perceived Disrespect to Their Advantage

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 29, 2015

B/R

PHOENIX — Patriots defensive back Brandon Browner remembers the battles he would have with Doug Baldwin in Seahawks practice. They were not pretty. 

"It got heated a couple of times," Browner remembered. "I won't say what happened, but it got heated."

Pushing, shoving, arguing, near brawls. That's what happened. Then things were fine. But there were always several rounds of Baldwin v. the Seahawks secondary.

I later asked Browner if Baldwin had a chip on his shoulder. Browner laughed: "Of course he does."

Yes, yes he does.

Baldwin's explosion came after the NFC title game. It was a very Baldwin moment. The team was going to the Super Bowl, yet he felt obliged to lecture the free world about how everyone disrespected the Seahawks receivers, when no one actually does.

"The frustration and all the hardships we face as a team throughout the year and then through that game, it was a build-up for sure," he said. "I just let it all out. It was indicative of everything (that) not only my teammates, but my specific position group has gone through. Just letting out the frustration. I wouldn't take it back for anything. I said that before. I said the right thing. I just wish I wouldn't have said it right after the game because I feel that it took away from the team aspect, and us celebrating the win together."

A common set of mantras from Baldwin and the Seahawks receivers: You don't respect us. You underestimate us. You don't like us. You think we're average. You think we're aiight? Line up across from us. We'll show you aiight. Rinse, wash, repeat.

None of the Seahawks receivers are first-round picks. That is one of many things that fuels this group. There are chips and then there are the Seahawks wide receivers. There is no human shoulder big enough to comfortably fit chips the size of manhole covers.

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Seahawks WR/TE postseason stats
PlayerCatchesYardsTDsDraft position
Jermaine Kearse41642Undrafted
Doug Baldwin91441Undrafted
Luke Willson67915th round
Marshawn Lynch43201st round
Ricardo Lockette3310Undrafted
pro-football-reference.com

"I think we all have a story," said tight end Luke Willson. "We're all pretty self-motivated. I know a lot of people dogged Russell because of his height, (Richard Sherman) had some stuff at Stanford and for me, I had a couple of good years there at Rice, small school-type guy. I always felt like when I was there and growing up in Canada, I didn't have the same opportunity scouting-wise as some of the bigger hubs and big-time schools. Just kind of have a chip on your shoulder. I think a lot of these lower guys work hard. When you get in this atmosphere, it's almost kind of like you can't help but be involved and ingrained in the atmosphere and the culture that Coach Carroll has created. I think that you see a lot of these guys, fifth-round guys, really stepping their game up."

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, when asked about the fact none of Seattle's receivers are indeed first-rounders: "We take pride in that a little bit. Our guys with Jermaine (Kearse) and Doug (Baldwin) and (Ricardo) Lockette, all those guys weren't drafted. We pride ourselves in being able to find talent. Our scouting department and John Schneider do an outstanding job. They're our kind of guys. You can see Doug Baldwin with a chip on his shoulder and Jermaine and how he is and how he persevered through our game last week, or a few weeks ago, and made a big play for us. Those are our kind of guys."

This is a story about respect. How many give the Seahawks wide receivers a lot of it, and how the receivers feel they receive none.

This story is about using perceived negativity to your advantage. When a Cris Carter or Deion Sanders calls them average or good, Seattle wideouts assume those players say they suck. No one says they suck. No one believes they are the best, but that isn't an insult. That's a fact.

Baldwin is a disrespect conspiracy theorist. He sees disrespect behind every quote the way UFO enthusiasts see saucer-shaped objects behind every cloud.

It works for them. The Seahawks are not the most talented group. Or the fastest. Or the biggest. What they do, however, is play well. They get it done. Just as they made the winning catch in the title game, they seem to make big plays when needed.

"It's about maximizing opportunities," Kearse said. "Things aren't always going to go the way they're supposed to. It's a matter of how you respond when things aren't going well."

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18:  Jermaine Kearse #15 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a 35 yard game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Green Bay Packers during the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

"I'm not going to label them," said Patriots safety Patrick Chung. "They work hard, they play hard and they are very passionate. I see that on film. You can say what you want to say about them, but they are here for a reason. They are here because they are good and they can make plays."

Browner called the Seahawks receivers "quick, smaller guys. Doug is what about 5'10" or 5'11"? He's probably one of the quickest guys that I had to face in the league."

Kearse remembers his name not getting called on draft day. It motivates him even now. 

"The ultimate goal was to get drafted," he said. "Everybody, that's what you work for. That's what you work hard in college for is to get drafted and play in the NFL. You kind of sit there and you're waiting for your phone to ring. You're waiting for your name to get called, and it doesn't. It's a disappointing feeling, but there's that undrafted free-agent section. I was able to get my foot in the door and be able to just compete, and fought my way up to the team."

He added, "It's an incredible journey for me. It's something that I really hold dear to myself. Now that I think about it, I'm glad I went this way. I went through this road because I learned a lot about myself pushing through adversity and just making the most of opportunities. It really molded me to the player that I am now. It's not just my story because there are a lot of guys on this team that are undrafted who made their way just as I did. Look at Doug Baldwin. We've got guys on our defense in Steven Terrell and Marcus Burley. Look at those guys. They're doing the same thing."

None of that means we won't hear about how no one respects them. Even though so many do.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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