The Pro Bowl duo had their fans and their detractors, but there’s no doubting they were a big reason why the Super Bowl-era Seahawks were so entertaining.
Do you hear that? Yeah, me neither.
And that silence is something we’re going to have to get used to.
The once-brazen, boisterous Seahawks just got a whole lot quieter.
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Say what you will about those two. No doubt they’ve turned off their share of fans over the past few years.
But the two most polarizing players in the Seahawks’ locker room were also the most interesting.
We learned Wednesday that Bennett was traded to the Eagles for a fifth-round pick and receiver Marcus Johnson. And though it’s not official, Sherman telling his teammates goodbye makes it appear as if he could be the next to go.
If that happens, gone are two of the most distinguished players in Seattle’s Super Bowl era. And certainly the most outspoken.
Sherman first grabbed the nation’s attention by clowning anyone who dared diss him. He called Skip Bayless an “egotistical cretin.” He called receiver Michael Crabtree “sorry” on live TV. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always compelling. Whether you were grinning or cringing, you were definitely watching.
Bennett rose to prominence a bit later than his longtime teammate, but eventually equaled him in notoriety.
It started with his sack dance, which he described as “two angels dancing while chocolate is coming from the heavens on a Sunday morning.” It continued with quotes like “quarterback is the only position where you can be mediocre and get paid.” It eventually evolved into social commentary on matters such as racial inequality and police brutality, issues that prompted him to protest during the national anthem throughout last season.
Again, a lot of people don’t like these two. They’ve certainly given fans their reasons. But did their presence not help make the Seahawks one of the most fascinating teams in professional sports?
One day, Sherman would go to the podium dressed as Harry Potter, and another, he was threatening to ruin a radio host’s career. One day, Michael Bennett was tweeting that every dollar of his endorsement money would go to charity, and another, he was rolling into an opposing lineman’s knees after a play was dead.
Rare was the week when one of the two wasn’t part of a headline on ESPN’s home page. Rarer was the game story or column that didn’t quote them before the jump.
I winced at Sherman’s arrogance when he said it was a “privilege” for the media to talk with him and that we’ll miss him when he’s gone. But there is something to that last part. The attraction to sports goes far beyond the games themselves. It’s about all the stories that surround what takes place between the lines, and those two were constantly fueling those stories.
It’s not as if the Seahawks are suddenly without personality. Doug Baldwin is as active in the community as he is pithy in the locker room. Earl Thomas is as unpredictable with reporters as he is dominant on the field. Luke Willson is as hilarious as he is athletic. Fans won’t be hurting for the off-the-field entertainment.
But let’s be real: It’s not going to be the same.
I’ve covered plenty of teams in my 13-year career. And even if they were at the bottom of the standings, I found most of them interesting. Then I came to Seattle and realized that maybe those teams weren’t as intriguing as I thought.
There was always something going on with the Seahawks. I’m not sure that will continue to be the case. Might make beat reporting a touch less stressful, but I’ll take chaos over quiet any day.
I imagine we’ll continue to see Sherman and Bennett in the headlines. They’re going to give their thoughts, and there are going to be fans who want to hear them. I don’t know that it’s going to have the same feel, though.
The Seahawks are custom-built for vocal athletes like those two. Coach Pete Carroll created a culture that encourages candor and self-expression in a way you rarely see. Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t tolerate some of Sherman and Bennett’s antics, and other coaches might ask them to tone it down. Not in Seattle, though. Never.
The phrase “end of an era” has been thrown out a lot lately in regards to the Seahawks. Certainly feels that way, considering so many key players from the Super Bowl teams are finding themselves elsewhere.
But it isn’t just about the talent that elevated the Seahawks to the top of the league. It’s also about the talkers that, somehow, always got people talking.