Seattle Seahawks’ fans took the holdout of Kam Chancellor very personally, myself among them. This was a team that had reached the Superbowl two years in a row – successes that Kam played a large part in. The organization was coming off perhaps the most crushing defeat in franchise history. Like their eternally youthful coach, the fanbase had done everything they could to remain positive.
The Holdout Begins
Then Kam announced that he would be holding out of training camp.
Initially it wasn’t a huge deal. The Seahawks still had arguably the most talented roster in the NFL and the addition of Jimmy Graham had given the fans hope for increased offensive production. The team looked poised to make another run at a third straight SuperBowl appearance.
Although the holdout came abruptly and surprised a lot of the fanbase (given that he still had 3 years left on his deal and was less than halfway through the contract that he had signed just two years prior), most were willing to admit that yes, Kam was a bit underpaid for the services he provided…but not by too much.
No one blamed him for missing parts of the preseason to prove a point. But he wouldn’t ever miss regular season games, right? Not a leader like Kam.
Chancellor signed his contract when he was a very good player – but not a great one. Seattle had yet to win their Superbowl, and Kam had been a wrecking ball but hadn’t yet grown into the defensive leader that he is known as being today.
The Fanbase Groans
The holdout dragged on deep into the preseason. While that annoyed the fans, it still hadn’t had a measurable effect on the season. Media outlets and fans continually speculated on return dates based on the fines that he accumulated and the perceived loyalty that he had to the team.
Perhaps moreso than others realize – the fanbase was already emotionally drained from the Russel Wilson contract negotiations. They had just been through months of wondering when, or if the team would get the contract done and what it would look like. It was tiring. Now, the emotional equivalent of Russell Wislon on the defensive side of the ball was holding out despite the fact that he had a fairly favorable contract.
“He’d never miss a regular season game,” was a popular sentiment on Field Gulls and other Seahawks message boards across the web.
They were wrong. In fact – pretty much everyone that pretended to have some sort of insight into the situation was wrong.
The 4 preseason games came and went with no sign of Chancellor in the locker room.
Then, going into the first game of the regular season game against the Rams – Chancellor gave an interview in which he called the Seahawks “petty.”
The problem was that his own admissions about the contract situation actually made him seem much more petty that the organization itself. The Seahawks hadn’t been unwilling to negotiate or re-work his contract to give him money up front. The opposite, in fact. In that interview Kam admitted that the two sides were less than $1 million apart, with the Seahawks being willing to move more than $3.1 in payment forward a year to satisfy Kam – even though Kam would likely request a contract re-work after that year was over. It was marketed as a “contract restructuring,” but in reality it was a $3.1 million raise…and Kam was holding out of regular season games to secure a $4 million raise.
I’m sure he went into that interview hoping that giving his viewpoint on the situation would help win over players and fans and force the team to budge, but it had the opposite effect. A good portion of the fanbase already saw him as greedy and petty for holding out – now he had admitted that the team was willing to meet him more than halfway, and really it was him that was unwilling to budge.
Kam Acts Stubborn
Both sides hardened. The Seahawks buckled in for a long, Kam-less winter knowing that Chancellor had no leverage. Chancellor bet that the Seahawks would see the error in their ways and cave.
Two regular season games go by, and the team comes out 0-2. It was clear that Kam was missed. There wasn’t that brick wall waiting in the middle of the field, instilling fear in receivers and offensive coordinators. But, all things considered – the Seahawks had the lead in the 4th quarter of both games and everyone knew going into the season that there was a very real possibility that the team could start 0-2.
Kam must have realized at this point, when he still hadn’t received a call or seen an inkling of a willingness to negotiate, that the Seahawks were not going to budge – even if they went 0-16.
The Team Expresses Annoyance
He had already lost more money in fines and game checks than he was holding out for. It hadn’t made financial sense for the holdout to continue for several weeks.
The media and fans had already turned on him – but now players were letting small tidbits of resentment slip in their post-game interviews.
“At this moment, he’s not battling with us, so I can’t really tell you what his absence means. It would be great if he comes back, but we’re gonna keep on truckin’ … You never know what’s going on with someone in that situation. He’s in a whole other place right now. He’s handling his situation, (rather than) helping us. I try not to deal with that energy.”
-Earl Thomas in Green Bay Post-Game Inteview
Kam Finally Makes the Right Choice
On Wednesday, September 24th, Kam officially ended his holdout, seemingly without a new deal on the table.
He came back and was less apologetic than the fans thought he should have been. He said that he “forgave the fans” that had expressed themselves inappropriately and insulted him during the process.
The front office was right. Kam was wrong. Maybe he was too headstrong. Maybe his agent is just a terrible agent. Maybe he thought his leadership gave him more leverage with the team than it really did. More than likely – it’s a little of all of the above.
But he was back.
The Fans Must Learn to Forgive and Forget
Now the fans need to learn to let the resentment that they have harbored during this holdout fade away.
This is a team that constantly preaches taking things “one game at a time,” and “living in the now,” and it is time that the fanbase learns to put these concepts into practice as well.
Kam may not have put the team above himself. He definitely didn’t give the return presser than we all had hoped that he would.
But he is a once-in-a-generation type of strong safety and is truly irreplaceable. There isn’t another single player in this league that could be plugged in and provide even close to the same skillset that Chancellor brings to the table. He is a John Lynch, a Brian Dawkins-type of safety that we only see come around once a decade or so.
Kam’s contract woes will probably be a point of contention next offseason as well. But let’s leave that drama where it will be – next offseason. For now let’s enjoy that Kam is back to help one of the league’s most talented rosters climb out of the 0-2 hole that they have built for themselves and cross that bridge when we come to it.