Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said Tuesday the reaction to the team's anthem statement Sunday has been 'mostly positive.'
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin missed a day of practice last week to attend the funeral of his grandfather, Junius Boling Jr.
It was an event that only reinforced to Baldwin that the Seahawks were doing the right thing on Sunday when they decided to stay in the locker room for the national anthem prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville (the Titans also did not take the field for the anthem with each teams releasing statements explaining their decisions).
Boling, the father of Baldwin’s mother, Cindy, died on Sept. 2 at the age of 80 in Mary Esther, Fla. He had entered the Air Force at the age of 17 and served in Korea, the Philippines, Japan and Germany during a 26-year military career before retiring in 1980. Boling then spent another 17 years working as a warehouse foreman at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Hurlburt Field before retiring.
“He fought just for that, for our rights as individuals in our country to exercise our First Amendment rights,’’ Baldwin said Tuesday.
Baldwin made the comment during an interview as part of a promotion for Delta Air Lines, which is the official airline of the Seahawks. Baldwin specifically is serving as a spokesman for Delta’s 12status program, in which fans can earn miles for every yard the Seahawks gain passing in any game this season.
Such commercial endeavors bring Baldwin even closer to the team’s fans, and he knows not everyone agrees with the team’s decision on Sunday.
“They have their right to their opinion,’’ he said, saying the rights his grandfather fought for that the team exercised Sunday are the same that anyone who disagrees can also exercise. “And we fully and wholeheartedly respect that.’’
What Baldwin said he hopes doesn’t get lost in the discussion of the manner in which the Seahawks and other teams made statements last week in reaction to comments made by President Donald Trump is what the Seahawks are making a statement about.
“I think the main thing for me is that we wanted to make sure that the message got across that in no way shape or form are we trying to protest against the flag or against the country,’’ said Baldwin, whose father is a police officer. “I think we have been very clear about our message and our point is that we are protesting inequality and injustice in America for people of color, and that’s what we are doing.
“In no way shape or form are we trying to disrespect the flag or is that our intent. And I think that if you can take it a little bit further, I think what we are doing is actually honoring the flag, honoring the lives that have been sacrificed for our right to do so, for our right to express how we feel. And I think that is one of the things that I will continue to try to get across is that that’s our message. Very clearly, that’s our message.’’
Baldwin said the reaction he has heard since Sunday has been “mostly positive for the most part. Obviously there are those who have their varying viewpoints and beliefs ,which we obviously respect. … But I would just say the overall response that we have gotten from people on the Seahawks’ social media, our websites, the letters that we have received, the comments that we have received, all of the e-mails that I have received, it’s been a lot of positive, a lot of just wanting to continue the message of love and empathy and compassion for one another and continuing to dialogue.’’
What that means going forward remains unclear. As did coach Pete Carroll on Monday, Baldwin on Tuesday said he has “no idea’’ if the team will continue to stay in the locker room for future games or make any other teamwide statements or actions during the anthem.
“Just like the rest of the country we are going to continue to dialogue and try to find what we want to do as a team,’’ Baldwin said.
As did the other 31 NFL teams, the Seahawks spent much of Saturday discussing how to react to comments made by Trump during a rally on Friday night that were critical of the NFL and particularly of players who have protested during the anthem previously, a group that includes Seattle’s Michael Bennett, who sat during the song for the first six games (exhibition and regular season) of the year. It was only after hours of talks on Saturday afternoon and into Sunday morning — discussions that also involved the Titans — that a decision on how best to make a statement was reached.
That the Seahawks lost 33-27 led some fans to wonder if the meetings had any impact on the team’s play.
Said Baldwin: “If it did I don’t think it’s an excuse for anything that went on during the game because the Tennessee Titans were doing the exact same thing. Obviously we spoke about the conversations we had with them the night before and prior to the game. So yeah, maybe it did. But I would say, whose life isn’t affected by it right now? Who is not hearing the conversation? So it’s hard for individuals to sweep it under the rug and act like there is not a very serious and very important topic to discuss. But at the same time we have all had a lot of practice at putting aside distractions and going out there and focusing on the task at hand and our jobs. So again, I don’t think it’s an excuse that anybody can lean on.’’
Baldwin, in fact, had one of the best games of his career finishing with 10 catches — the second-most since entering the league in 2011 — and 105 yards, the ninth-most of his career.
He sat out late with a groin issue that does not appear serious. Baldwin, who has played in 73 straight games — the fourth-longest active streak of any receiver in the NFL — said he anticipates being able to play Sunday against Indianapolis in a 5:30 p.m. kickoff at CenturyLink Field.
“That’s the plan,’’ Baldwin said. “We’re putting together the best plan possible for me to get back on the field as quickly as possible.’’
Depending on how the Seahawks react to the anthem this week, the reaction Baldwin and his teammates get when they step on the field for the game might include some dissenting voices.
But as he has appreciated the cheers he has received through the years, Baldwin said he would equally accept any other reaction.
“If they want to express or exercise their First Amendment right then I wholeheartedly support them 100 percent,’’ Baldwin said.
That, after all, is what he says it’s all about.