A recent Seahawks players-only meeting is the biggest step the team has taken to overcoming the embarrassment of five suspensions after testing positive for PEDs.

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RENTON — The solution starts, as always, with acknowledgment. You can’t fix a problem unless you realize there is a problem.

So, finally, after two years of ignorance, the Seahawks have admitted to themselves that they’ve been careless at best — reckless at worst — resulting in five players getting busted for performance-enhancing drugs over the past two years.

Veteran fullback Michael Robinson called a team meeting recently to address the issue. During the 30-minute heart to heart in the auditorium of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the players emphasized what has been bugging everyone who cares about the integrity of the dominant team they’re building: They’re better than this.

Many of the team’s veterans relayed similar messages. Stop making the same stupid mistakes that got other teammates suspended. Grow up. Pay careful attention to what you’re putting in your body. Think about the team and not the high-risk, low-reward edge that you’re seeking.

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It was an important step to try to end a disturbing trend. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll can ramble on about it all he wants, but he’ll always contradict himself and sound too dismissive as he tries to say the right thing to a disappointed public while defending the legitimacy of what he has created in Seattle. In private, he can make stronger points to his players about right and wrong all he wants, too. But ultimately, these oversized adults must change by themselves and for themselves.

“I think it touched everybody more hearing it from the players — hearing what the players had to say and what was deep in their hearts,” strong safety Kam Chancellor said. “I think everybody felt it and took it in, and I think everybody learned from that meeting.”

They’ll have to prove it, of course. Let’s see if the Seahawks can go a season without having any players suspended under the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. After leading the league in naughty over the past two seasons, that’s a fair request.

No more stories about using Adderall without permission. No more worrying whether the players are on something far more stigmatizing. No more losing possible difference-makers to suspension.

Fortunately, the Seahawks’ leaders care very much about this problem. Not just the perception of a problem, but the actual problem. In case you were worried, the Seahawks haven’t turned their locker room into a candy store of PEDs.

They’re also not flippant about having so many players busted. It’s good to be reminded that, on a 53-man roster that changes every year, the percentage of wrongdoers remains low. Now, the Seahawks must ensure it gets even lower.

“At some point in time, you’ve got to mature yourselves and grow up and not do the same mistakes over and over,” Chancellor said. “We’ve got to protect the team.”

The team they’re protecting just might be unprecedented in Seahawks history. They might even prove unprecedented in Seattle professional sports history. You struggle to recall a local team this young, this gifted, this proven and this hyped. There have been good young teams. There have been teams with enormous hype. But it’s the combination of those four things that sets these Seahawks apart, not to mention that they’re the city’s Great Sports Hope currently.

With that comes a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility. The players must be good stewards as they attempt to achieve greatness. It’s not just about winning at all costs. It’s not just about competing at all costs to thrive in Carroll’s demanding system. The Seahawks have the kind of team that can leave a legacy, and it’s never too early to be concerned with ensuring that legacy is as pure as possible.

“It comes with accountability,” Chancellor said. “We all owe each other accountability. We want to see each other do good, and if this person does good and that person does good, then the whole team does good. So it’s all about being accountable and holding each other to a higher standard.”

It’s also about eliminating a virus before it becomes a plague. The Seahawks have made strides in that pursuit. They did it by being honest with themselves.

The problem has been acknowledged. It has been discussed. And if the Seahawks’ locker room is as strong as you think, then the problem should be expunged soon.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com

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