The Dynasty that Never Was
Members of those mighty Seahawks defenses spent that weekend drinking and gambling and celebrating Sherman’s good fortune, which cut two ways. Because they weren’t simply toasting his nuptials in paradise; some were also saluting his escape to San Francisco, away from the Seattle organization a handful of players had referred to in private as “the Titanic” for the better part of a year. Even on the happiest weekend of Sherman’s life, inside his sprawling suite at the Hard Rock or at one of the resort’s blackjack tables, the conversations inevitably turned back in the same direction, to what one Seahawk describes as the “dynasty that never was” and some players’ lingering disdain for quarterback Russell Wilson.
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Seattle had ascended to the precipice of becoming the NFL’s latest dynasty, behind arguably one of the greatest defenses of all time and a quarterback who was young and sometimes great but also inconsistent. And it was an ethos that held them all together—the notion that ruthless, unsparing competition would prevail above all else.
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What kept coming back up at Sherman’s wedding wasn’t the massive overhaul the Seahawks had made. What kept coming back up was why.
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But a dozen sources with direct knowledge of the Seahawks’ internal dynamics who spoke to Sports Illustrated this summer also pointed to a locker room they contend had fractured last season, with private spats spilling into public view and a rift deepening between those who supported Wilson and those who felt the coaches held him to a different standard. The overhaul, those sources maintain, was a direct result of that dissension. It was the management in Seattle deciding to “take the power back,” according to two departed Seahawks, with that notion confirmed by three other current or former players. If everything that happened after their loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX was done in attempt to rebuild faith and trust in one another, this summer marked a pivot toward something else. The Seahawks rebuilt around Wilson, their most prolific and polarizing remaining player, for at least the next two seasons, when he’s under contract—and they’re hoping to capture lightning with their roster, the way they did in 2012.
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But those who left, and even some who remain, wonder if the changes ignore what they see as the more fundamental issue: that what made Seattle great—the highest of expectations, the unrelenting competition—is over, too.