By John Boyle
The Seahawks were back on the field for OTAs Monday, but much of the talk surrounding the team had more to do with recent off-field issues. On Friday, the league announced that defensive end Bruce Irvin had been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, and on Monday word came out that quarterback Josh Portis was recently arrested on suspicion of DUI, and will be arraigned next week.
As a result, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, and well as quarterback Russell Wilson, spent time a lot of time after the OTA fielding questions about suspensions, especially considering that the Seahawks have had five other players serve suspensions under the league’s PED policy since 2011.
Also, there’s a few non-suspension notes at the bottom if you get through Carroll’s rather long statement. First, here’s what Wilson said, noting that while players will support each other, they also need to be responsible for their actions.
“Obviously we want everybody here,” Wilson said. “It’s an important thing to have everybody for everybody to be able to play at the highest level.”
“And we’ve got to make the right decision as players. It’s up to us to make the right decision at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter what the coaches say positively or negatively or whatever, we have to make the decision as players, and I think we’ll do that. One thing is that we have to continue to be leaders in the locker room and make sure that everybody knows that’s unacceptable. It’s one of those things where we have to move on. We’ll still support the guys, whoever is in trouble or whatever, but the next guy’s got to step up.”
Carroll didn’t wait to be asked about Irvin’s suspension, instead he opened with a long statement, talking about the excitement of a new season and high expectations, and also what comes with that.
“With that also comes the responsibility to handle it well. Over the years I’ve seen what it takes to be consistently on top and to stay on top and to keep winning and endure all that goes along with that. It takes a giant commitment, and guys have to really be in it for the reason to do things right. So as we encounter—a couple things came up today in the media about our guys, some issues that we have—this is a challenge. It’s a challenge for us, it’s a challenge for the league. The league is doing everything they can to figure out how to help guys make it through these young careers that they have, from teaching and instructing, and also the punitive side of it, and they’re doing a really good job. They’re in it for the right reasons, and we are too. We go beyond what the league does, we go well past what the guidelines ask us to do as far working with our young guys, trying to give them the direction, trying to give them the counseling. We have people on staff who are here specifically to work with our individual guys, because I really see this as an individual challenge. We try to bring each kid as far along as we possibly can to make them available for the opportunity that they have. Each one of them is a different story, each one of them, it’s a different road that they travel. Even though we go together, they all have to figure out how to do this right. I see this as a challenge for us to be at the cutting edge of understanding why guys make choices and why guys will jeopardize their opportunities and their future. The league understands that, we understand it. We’ve been working with it for years and years with young people, and we continue to still face issues that we want to try to deal with in a better way. It’s a very important opportunity in a sense for us to go ahead and figure it out and to help these guys so that they can get what they deserve. Unfortunately you go wrong, you get popped, and that’s how this thing works. I’m really disappointed that we have to deal with anything like this, but there are going to be other issues too, and we’ll have to deal with them.
“For Bruce, we’re going to try to help him along as best as we possibly can. He’s made an enormous commitment to trying to do the right thing and to try to be right, and he made a mistake and admitted to it and he owned up to it to his teammates and he owned up to it to the staff and he owns up to it everybody. He wants to do right and show that he can. We’re going to see that through and see if we can’t get that done for him. It’s no different than I would do it with my own son. I do everything I can to teach them, to prepare them, to let them understand the pitfalls that are out there, and then you hope and you pray that your kids make the right decisions when get faced with options. Then when they make a mistake, you take them back under and you try to lead them along again and show them and hope that they can learn from the issues that they’ve had to face, and we get stronger and we get better for it. We’ve got a lot of challenges coming up, and it ain’t easy, but we’ll find out where our commitment is and how close we can stay and how directed we can be to taking this as far as we can. That’s really my challenge every day and I expect that we’re going to have to encounter some more stuff and we’ll see if we can do it really well as we move forward… It’s serious, it’s real serious. And we need to let you know that we understand that.”
Asked if, given the number of suspensions his team has had, some of the responsibility falls on him, Carroll said, “Always. If you look it like you’re a parent, you can turn your back on your kid if you want, but I’m not doing that. Sometimes the messages that in some areas are taken so to heart and delivered upon and you can tell that everybody’s getting on board, then sometimes it doesn’t hit home. That doesn’t mean that we kid them out the door, it means we try to help them through it and make them see the right thing and come out stronger for it.
On if another suspension makes him reevaluate how they’re getting the message across to players:
“Continually, because it’s not right yet. We all know that there are big issues, we all know that. It’s not just here, it’s just in this sport, it’s in all sports, it’s in schools, it’s everywhere. And we have to figure it out and try to help, through education and through all of the ways that we can, and we will always compete to find more creative ways to make the message clear.”
On if he’s meeting with leaders on the team to figure out how to solve the problem:
“We’ve already started talking about that, yes. The conversations are ongoing.”
And finally, a few other personnel notes. Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player absent from the workout for non-injury reasons. Carroll pointed out that these workouts are in fact voluntary, though he admitted they’d prefer to have him there. Carroll also said Lynch is going through intense workouts on his own back home.
DE Cliff Avril sat out with what Carroll called a plantar fascia issue in his foot. Avril will be back in action in a couple of weeks, Carroll said. TE Anthony McCoy left practice early with an ankle injury, and rookies Christine Michael (hamstring) and Tharold Simon (foot) didn’t do much because of injuries.