We now witness the painful collision of pride versus protocol.
Which will prove strongest: Kam Chancellor’s willingness to surrender a quarter-million dollars every week to maintain a stubborn stance, or the Seahawks’ readiness to take the field without their inspirational enforcer to preserve their approach on early contract restructuring?
Short of a quick resolution, I say it plays out like this: The Seahawks still will have a contending team without Chancellor, while Chancellor will lose a ton of money as he sits and watches his buddies challenge for another title.
Monday was the Seahawks’ first practice of the regular season, and Chancellor was AWOL. His teammates voted for team captains, and Chancellor’s spot on the defense was filled by Bobby Wagner.
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The Chancellor impasse could end at any moment, but the antagonists seem entrenched. And in what has become a lose-lose situation, Chancellor stands to be the biggest loser.
Never thought it would come to this, did you? Since the start of training camp, Chancellor’s holdout seemed like a threatening storm front you hoped would blow over.
So little of this made sense at the start. It seemed that Chancellor was too important to not find a way to mollify. And Chancellor was too invested in his teammates to ever watch them go play without him.
That’s now proven to be an overidealized scenario, perhaps a function of us sniffing Pete Carroll’s pixie dust for so long that we came to believe that all rainbows are permanent. Excusable, perhaps, given their success.
But picture the pressure on Chancellor now, watching a quarter-million lost each week. Wealthy or not, that’s a bite to the bank account.
It seemed to defy Chancellor’s persona. We’ve seen him play the game with such heart that it seemed almost valorous.
At some moments, he is the stoic and unyielding protagonist in the old cowboy movies. Meanwhile, his teammates consider him The Godfather, powerful and omniscient, capable of settling disputes and making things right.
No debate, he’s a rare talent; so fast and powerful that he changes the way teams approach games against the Seahawks. As soon as a play is called in the huddle, opposing receivers start thinking about whether their designated routes will take them near No. 31.
How is all that reconciled, now, with the image of a man who won’t show up to do the work for which he’s contracted?
For one, the deck is stacked against Chancellor. Strong safety is not a premium salary position, and he’s in just the second year of a four-year deal.
And the Seahawks front office and staff, who know full well the value of Chancellor’s play and leadership, redo that contract only at the peril of unleashing fiscal anarchy on a team loaded with elite players.
The practical effects? Former Seahawks fullback Heath Evans, now on the NFL Network, said Seattle may drop to the third-best team in the NFC West without Chancellor.
I’d doubt that — even while firmly believing Chancellor is the best at his position and a uniquely dominant force. There’s too much talent on this roster.
If a healthy Earl Thomas plays free safety, his speed and sure tackling cover a multitude of potential breakdowns across the defense. A more threatening pass rush also might mitigate the effects of Chancellor’s absence.
His leadership? Maybe he’s the best, but this team has a lot of leaders.
His capacity to establish the tone of toughness? He’s incomparable, but there’s a lot of tough Seahawks.
Standing your ground for a just cause is laudable. Chancellor-esque, in fact.
But this is a poorly timed, ill-conceived holdout, perhaps the one time in his career when Chancellor has surrendered leverage and is playing from a position of weakness.
Chancellor deserves as much as he can get, but it’s not going to change. It’s foolish to stick with a futile plan out of pride, or fear of admitting a mistake.
Sad. He is one of those increasingly rare players who — through their play and their attitude — bring honor to the game. The Seahawks and the league are lesser in his absence.
But it’s a cost that he shoulders on his own.