Doug Baldwin was not recruited from Stanford University, carrying that injustice (which is exactly how he saw it) as a permanent scar. It was a reminder engraved on his ID to work a little harder.
Baldwin burned with an internal fire that always seemed a little hotter than everyone else's, because he felt he had to be. And if he ever felt that he was beginning to blink, the embers were dying out, Baldwin would find a bit of light behind which they would gather.
Angry Doug, they called him, although it was not so much anger as survival. He led Baldwin to a NFL lead as an wide receiver that effectively ended Thursday with the news of the Seahawks that they were rescinding their contract, with the safety of Kam Chancellor.
Baldwin would admit this mentality in moments of frankness, which were all of them, because no one was more honest with his emotions than Baldwin, emanating from a dangerous obsession he had with proving himself. That was due to an insecurity that developed when he entered two worlds that grow in Florida: between the wealthy white families of his hometown, Gulf Breeze, who never accepted him, and the more diverse and difficult world of Pensacola, in the another end of the three-mile bridge, where Baldwin felt like a stranger.
Baldwin knew that this obsession, on the verge of a neurosis, cost him relationships and friendships.
"It's a very cold feeling sometimes, but that's what I'm comfortable with," Baldwin once told The Seattle Times.
And so he was forced to keep burning, for the eternal benefit of the Seahawks. And now, finally, Baldwin can allow the fire to go out, if he so wishes. The Seahawks announced on Thursday that Baldwin had failed a physical, as did the Chancellor, which led to the termination of the contract that essentially ended his Seattle careers.
With the chancellor, it was a mere formality. He had retired last season and retired in almost every name, only due to a spinal injury that made it too dangerous to put on the football patches again.
But the acceleration of Baldwin's departure was more discordant. Although he was known to have been hit hard by injuries last year, he went through "hell" in 2018, he said at one point that Baldwin had still struggled to start the Seahawks playoff game against Dallas. He recorded what now seem to be the last three receptions of his career in the dying loss.
One thought that Baldwin would do what he always did: work like a madman to find a way to overcome the odds against him. But word spread that he had three surgeries this offseason. And on the second day of the NFL draft two weeks ago, it was reported that Baldwin was seriously considering his retirement, a rumor that the Seahawks administration did not attempt to knock down.
And on Thursday, with a simple press release, the hammer fell with a hard purpose. At 30, Baldwin has many more things to accomplish, and I fervently hope that this brutal sport does not leave him with the same physical trauma that has affected so many former players.
And as for that fire, I suspect that it will be redirected, not extinguished. Baldwin was always much more than football. The son of a policeman had strong opinions on many prevailing issues, including social justice, which he supported with the investigation, and going to the field to talk to people from all sides of the fence.
Baldwin occasionally gave guest lectures in the "Theory of Knowledge" clbad at Sumner High School under the alter ego "Mr. Worthy". He has raised a career in politics after his playing days are over, and it's easy to imagine him in Congress, if not in the White House.
Few local athletes have such an eclectic resume as Baldwin, a specialist in Science and Technology in Society at Stanford, and football is just one aspect of it. On one occasion, Baldwin was not so sure if he would remain in the NFL that he told Dropbox about an interview the day before the final cuts of his rookie season, just in case.
However, out of pure tenacity and possession of skills that the Seahawks coveted despite not moving to recruit him, Baldwin became a Pro Bowl receiver. At the beginning of his career, he promised to catch 500 more pbades each day than were required. He set a franchise record with 14 touchdown receptions in 2015. Only Steve Largent and Brian Blades have caught more pbades or accumulated more receiving yards for Seattle than Baldwin. He got a Super Bowl ring. One day he will be on the Seahawks' Ring of Honor.
One by one, the extraordinary collection of personalities and talents that marked the most successful era in Seahawks history is leaving. Marshawn Lynch Richard Sherman Michael Bennett. Earl Thomas. And now, officially, Chancellor and Baldwin. Only Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright has remained since the golden age.
Baldwin is as indelible as any of them. He used his strange acceleration to separate himself from the defenders, augmented by a computer-like understanding of opposition tactics, and an intensity and a will that made him the antithesis of "pedestrian," the phrase of the commentators that characterized him in the previous period. to the Super Bowl.
It's hard to imagine Doug Baldwin without a little stimulation. But it is easy to suspect that we have not heard the last of it.
206-464-3146 or [email protected]; On twitter: @StoneLarry. Larry Stone uses more than 30 years as a sports writer to offer information, wisdom, opinion, badysis and, hopefully, some humor, about the wide world of sports. Topics include the emotion of victory, the agony of defeat and, especially, the people responsible for the results, as well as the wide chasm between them.