Seahawks safety leads in various ways. He can be a mediator, a voice of reason, a sounding board — all roles that help the team move forward.
Last year, I asked 10 players to pick their most inspirational teammate. The results were informative: Safety Kam Chancellor won in a landslide, receiving seven votes from offensive and defensive teammates.
If you extended that poll across the locker room, I don’t think the outcome would change.
The Seahawks signed Chancellor to a contract extension for many reasons, but his leadership, the respect he carries, is one of them. Everyone talks about it, from coaches to receivers.
“There’s an absolute consensus on this guy,” coach Pete Carroll said.
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“He plays with that tenacity that a lot of guys don’t play with,” receiver Doug Baldwin said last year, “but he also has the humility to be the leader and the servant leader in the locker room to the guys he leads.”
That’s no small ability, not on this team. The Seahawks are full of alpha dogs and type-A personalities. They also have the freedom to express those traits. It’s part of their culture, part of what’s made them successful. But that can also lead to conflicts and clashes.
Those are the tricky dynamics Chancellor navigates, and over the years, he’s learned how to talk to the different personalities on the team.
Chancellor is not the loudest voice in the locker room, nor the most frequently heard. Actually, he doesn’t talk much and is often reserved when he does. But he can be a mediator, a voice of reason, a sounding board — all roles that help the Seahawks move forward.
“That’s important,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “You just need guys like that on the team. You need that presence. When certain guys like that are not on the team, it definitely shows.”
When cornerback Richard Sherman erupted twice on the sideline last year, Chancellor was right in his face. That was not a coincidence. “Kam just has a good, calming voice,” Sherman said later. At practice Tuesday, running back Thomas Rawls had a little dust up with defensive players, and Chancellor was one of the first players talking to Rawls.
“That’s the thing: The respect that he has from everybody allows him to be that way,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “He has respect from everybody on the defensive side and everybody on the offensive side, coaches, ownership.”
Chancellor commands respect for a few reasons. He’s one of the team’s most tenured players, and he has the résumé to back him up. He’s famous for his big hits, but just as important is the consistency with which he plays: Much like Marshawn Lynch did, Chancellor tries to be physical on every snap.
Whatever hard feelings lingered after Chancellor’s holdout two years ago, they are gone by now.
“It’s just respect,” Wagner said. “You have a lot of respect for a guy: the way he prepares, the way he hits, the way he performs and plays the game at a high level. We respect him as a person and who he is as a man, and that allows him to lead the way he does.”
There is rarely a singular leader on a team, but Chancellor is certainly one of the Seahawks’ most significant leaders. It’s why he is always voted a captain and why he’s important beyond his obvious contributions on the field.