Why Greg Hardy will never be a Seattle Seahawk

Character counts.

I’m struck by the enormous contrast between the Seattle Seahawks’ Ricardo Lockette and the Dallas Cowboys’ Greg Hardy, two of this week’s news-making NFL players. It’s a tremendous illustration of the range of characters and temperaments that make the NFL as fascinating off the field as it is on game day.

Just a few days after his season ending neck surgery, Lockette was heading home with his family from Dallas to Seattle when he came upon a group of homeless individuals. He asked his father to double back to a local fast food restaurant, purchasing 100 cheeseburgers to distribute to the group. (It’s not every day that I thank TMZ for their relentless reporting, but I’m glad that they did pick this up).

A few days before, photos emerged of the 2014 domestic violence incident implicating Hardy, where his then-girlfriend was shown with bruises and contusions on her neck, back, arms and feet. Disturbing stuff, and more disturbing still that this case was settled via a bench trial and that Hardy is back on the field as a “leader” for the Dallas Cowboys. Hmm.

It’s interesting to think about the Seahawks team, the ethos they have cultivated, from the front office, to the coaching staff, and how that plays out off the field. Russell Wilson devotes “Blue Tuesday” to Seattle Children’s Hospital, raising spirits and spreading encouragement to both patients and hospital staff. Seahawks Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, and Cliff Avril are among a cadre of players seeking to empower and improve the community where they live and work through their respective foundations. In many ways, it is reflective of their hometown.

Seattle was recently called out in the New York Times for its progressivism, and its philanthropy. I feel like this trickles down into the mentality of our football team — humility, vulnerability, and a willingness to learn from mistakes are part of the Seahawks ethos. Even during the gut-wrenching aftermath of Super Bowl XLIX, there was only an inward looking, self-aware ruefulness, not a finger-pointing blame game, emblematic of Seattle’s culture of politeness).

That’s why I have concerns about players like Jimmy Graham, and I anticipate he’ll go the way of Percy Harvin. By and large, the Hawks have fared better by growing the team from the ground up, finding draft picks that mesh well — athletically and socioculturally — than with flashy trades. Graham has experienced visible struggles to fit into the team, expecting a role with the Seahawks that was as outsized as his role with the New Orleans Saints. He comes across as more of a “me hawk” whereas Lockett, Russell Wilson, and Michael Bennett are truly “we Hawks.” Those are the kind of leaders I want.

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