He got frostbite after abstaining from wearing shoes in a cryotherapy chamber. He showed up to training camp in a hot air balloon. He threatened to quit if he couldn’t wear his old helmet, and probably isn’t far from another TMZ-worthy headline. He is Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, one of the best players in the NFL and possibly the craziest. He is also unlike anyone on this year’s Seahawks.
When’s the last time anyone could say that?
This year’s subject of the HBO series “Hard Knocks” is the silver and black, and AB is reality-show gold. He has the potential to lead the sports headlines any time he opens his mouth, or really, anytime he leaves his house.
This used to be the case for several Seahawks when they were the brashest, most mercurial team in the NFL. But now … is there anyone you can picture piquing that kind of attention outside the lines?
This isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing. When the Seahawks packed the most personality in the league, they were regularly among the best teams in football. But there were also distractions. There was some infighting. There were some not-so-pleasant headlines that caused some to wonder if coach Pete Carroll was a little too loose with the standards sometimes.
But from an entertainment standpoint, it was money.
You had Marshawn Lynch, who would famously skip out on the media, put velvet rope around his Lamborghini, miss the team bus and show up to practice wearing the jersey of holdout Kam Chancellor.
You had Richard Sherman, who would trash-talk half the NFL, diss Michael Crabtree on national television, throw Carroll and Co. under the bus for throwing from the 1, and threaten a radio host’s career.
You had Percy Harvin getting in fights, Earl Thomas flipping off the sideline and Michael Bennett doing pretty much whatever he pleased.
All of these players excelled on the field, and most were thoughtful people embraced by their teammates and/or communities. But they were each unpredictable stars. Are any of those left?
Quarterback Russell Wilson is the highest-paid player in the NFL, likely Hall of Fame-bound, and incredibly charitable with his time — particularly with Seattle Children’s. But aside from the occasional anonymous source, there’s never a hint of controversy near him.
Bobby Wagner is the best linebacker in the NFL, also likely headed to Canton, and always accommodating to fans and media — but unless it’s on the field, nobody is wondering “what’s Bobby going to say or do next?”
Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver, is funny and has taken part in many a memorable touchdown celebration, but he’ll never be on the front page of a tabloid. Veteran linebacker and former Pro Bowler K.J. Wright might be the nicest player to ever walk through the Seahawks’ locker room, Pro Bowl alternate running back Chris Carson is as soft-spoken as he is hard-hitting, and Pro Bowl alternate safety Bradley McDougald would likely go unrecognized in any supermarket outside the Seattle area.
Yes, there was controversy this offseason surrounding defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who will miss the first six games of the season following a domestic-violence investigation that prompted no criminal charges.
And there is linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who is still awaiting his fate following an insider-trading guilty plea.
But that’s different from the melodrama/sensationalism/audacity that used to keep media on their toes each week earlier in the decade.
Again, this won’t necessarily have any bearing on how the Seahawks perform. There have been drama-filled teams that have both succeeded and failed in spectacular fashion. Same goes for drama-free teams. This is just a little — scratch that — a lot different than what people are used to around here.
“Hard Knocks” has displayed interest in showcasing the Seahawks before, but the organization has always declined. Maybe with this tamer group, though, the Seahawks would go through with it if HBO asked next year.
Or maybe they’d get cold feet. It happens.
Just ask Antonio.