In the context of pro football, turning 30 can be labeled as the beginning of old age for a player, but Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane scoffs at the idea, saying he is “a different breed.”
RENTON — In the context of normal American life, Brandon Mebane is more kid than old man. But in the NFL, turning 30 is seen as crossing some invisible barrier into old age.
Just consider: The Seahawks have 90 players on their roster, and if you exclude special-teams guys, only five are 30 or older.
Mebane, the Seahawks’ steady defensive tackle entering his ninth season, turned 30 on Jan. 15. He understands, but rejects, the stigma that comes with that birthday celebration.
“Physically I feel great, feel like I’m about 24 or 25,” Mebane said. “But 30 years old ain’t old, though. A lot of people think because you’re 30 years old, your time is winding down. I’m a different breed, though.”
Most Read Sports Stories
- Seahawks wave 'bye, bye, bye' to the haters in TD celebration dance — and *NSYNC takes notice WATCH
- Seahawks tight end Will Dissly out for season unless 'something miraculous happens' WATCH
- Seahawks tight end Will Dissly suffers 'serious' Achilles injury in win vs. Browns WATCH
- Seahawks' Russell Wilson strengthens his case for NFL MVP with another astonishing performance | Matt Calkins
- 'Best player in the NFL': Russell Wilson's MVP buzz heats up in national media after Seahawks' win
The questions are also about his health. Mebane missed the second half of last season because of a hamstring injury. It was the first time in three seasons that he didn’t appear in all 16 games, and just the second time in eight years that he played in fewer than 15 games.
He is entering the final year of his contract, and there has been speculation that he could be a salary-cap casualty to save money. Mebane is due $5.5 million this season with a salary-cap hit of $5.7 million. But if the Seahawks release him, they could save $5.5 million.
The Seahawks could also try to restructure Mebane’s contract, like they did with tight end Zach Miller before last season to reduce the salary for the upcoming year.
“My job is to get myself ready and be prepared,” Mebane said. “Things like that happen in this business, and that’s something I can’t control. I mean, I ain’t worried about playing football. The football part I ain’t worried about. The thing is, that other stuff I can’t control. That ain’t in my hands.”
Mebane said he has done everything in his power to return to how he was playing before. Coach Pete Carroll said Mebane was having the best season of his career before the injury, and teammates raved about his play.
At one point last season, defensive lineman Michael Bennett, one of Mebane’s closest friends on the team, said, “He’s the most important person to this defense.”
Mebane spent the offseason rehabbing his hamstring. He trained in the sand in Hawaii with Bennett and defensive end Cliff Avril, running hills and sprinting back-and-forth between cones in calf-high sand. He said he feels 100 percent.
“I just wanted to put myself in a great position to come back and be better than I was,” Mebane said. “I was just doing my job. My job was to rehab and get right.”
Judging Mebane’s play has always been difficult. He doesn’t pile up stats. Defensive-line coach Travis Jones acknowledges knock-backs and twofers — when a player eats up two blockers — after watching games, which is where Mebane makes his money.
“He’s perfect for any system like this where guys have to be big and able to run laterally,” said former Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith last season.
Mebane understands the business side of the game.
“You hear it,” Mebane said, “but I hear a lot of things. It is what it is, man. I ain’t focusing on that. My job is to get out there and be me. Whatever happens, it happens.”