It’s certainly not advisable to critique a fanbase. I’m going against my better judgement here and anticipate what the response will be.
But I kind of just want to say it anyway.
I think Seahawks fandom has become a little bit toxic.
I’ve said this a few times, especially when I’ve been joined by fellow Brit Adam Nathan on live streams. It feels very similar to Arsene Wenger’s final days as the manager of Premier League side Arsenal.
The fans were split between two camps — ‘Wenger IN’ and ‘Wenger OUT’.
It tore them apart, really. Everyone picked a side and went to war online.
It’s been four years since Wenger’s departure and Arsenal are only really starting to move on from the trauma.
I’m a little bit worried that something similar is brewing with Seahawks fans. Not that I expect to achieve anything to stop it by writing this opinion. I just wanted to share some thoughts on the matter.
I doubt things will ever get quite as bad as the Wenger situation. There does seem to be a split developing though between those viewing the Seahawks with a critical (not negative) eye and those who do not want to consider non-glowing viewpoints.
I’ve noticed it this week. There are a group of fans out there who seem to think anything short of constant praise and belief is a criminal offence.
Maybe it’s an overreaction based on my own experience? Perhaps. This is a short review of what has happened over the last year or so.
From 2020 onwards I was very critical of the direction of the Seahawks and anticipated a big problem with Russell Wilson was developing that would eventually lead to a split. This received a huge backlash, led to a ton of abuse including someone sending me the following message:
Hey rob. Your stupid is amazing. Don’t let your daughter to turn out same way otherwise she will become a prostitute. Even if you are stupid its not too late for your daughter.
People questioned my mental health. I had people threatening to hack my Twitter account. One guy spent several months emailing me abuse. I spent an age moderating the comments, which often led to further blowback when people accused me of being overly protective of my own views.
Then — the Wilson trade happened. I spoke positively about the fact a call had to be made one way or another for the franchise to move forwards — and it had been made. I jumped into the draft content and received a completely different, more positive, response. Then, after the 2022 draft, I gave the Seahawks a glowing review — including this video:
That A+ review of the draft class — even though I was personally not the biggest Charles Cross fan — gave me the most views my channel has had. I got a lot of positive feedback on the coverage of the draft and the look ahead to 2023 I’d already started.
During the pre-season, I thought areas of Seattle’s roster and their depth were exposed. I also thought they’d made poor use of their available cap space. So I talked about these issues. The abuse started to trickle back in.
It seemed to be forgotten that I’d said numerous times that I was just going to get what I could out of the 2022 season and enjoy it whenever possible. I had no expectations. I knew it was year-one of a rebuild. If watching the 2023 quarterback class was the most exciting part of the year, so be it.
I wasn’t writing-off the Seahawks. I just had incredibly low expectations. I think that was fair. I never once suggested I wanted them to tank. I simply didn’t want them to splurge resources on a mediocre QB (Mayfield, Garoppolo etc) to try and be a marginally better team.
They avoided that and I praised them for it.
I didn’t rate Geno Smith as a player and I still don’t think he will amount to much this season. I don’t wish him any ill-will or want him to fail. I simply have what I’d call a fair and hardly unique opinion based on what we’ve seen from him over the years.
Yet for some reason — this stance just earned the tag of ‘hater’ or ‘non-believer’.
I predicted a Seahawks win against the Broncos. They did win — but I haven’t really been able to enjoy any aspect of it because I’ve received a ton of messages suggesting I’m either disappointed they won or been proven wrong.
When I then voiced some modest concerns that so much had gone into that game that it had all the hallmarks of a classic emotional let-down against the Niners (and I love to beat the Niners and really want to do it again on Sunday) — the abuse started up once more.
I know — the internet is full of stuff like this and I shouldn’t read too much into it. I’d also say — until you’ve experienced a four-page thread that is very personal about you (especially in relation to your fandom for a team and abilities) — it’s hard to realise how tricky it is to ignore.
Included in the thread, the following is suggested:
— I secretly want the team to fail
— That I have sour grapes because the team I follow religiously, won
— I don’t understand anything about the team
— I’m a ‘smarmy know-it-all douchnozzle’
— I have a vested interest in failure to justify calling my podcast ‘The Rebuild’
— All of my videos are ‘doom and gloom’ (see, A+ draft grade above)
— I think I’m smarter than everyone else
— I’m a mostly average football analyst
— When the Seahawks don’t draft the players I like, I hammer the team
— That I ban anyone who disagrees
— I was confident Geno Smith & Seattle had no chance vs Denver (see: prediction)
— I don’t mention the mistakes I make in the draft
— Apparently I get upset when people call me Rob ‘StaNton’
— I am a wanker
I had a lot of similar comments on the YouTube channel, although many of those preferred to question my fandom.
I don’t think any of this is particularly warranted. It’s also not my first rodeo. The job I do in broadcasting means a degree of abuse, assumptions, implied motives or agendas come with the territory. You’ll never please everybody.
I struggle with this a bit more, however, given ultimately this is a hobby. I am just a Seahawks fan with an interest in the draft who happens to also be an experienced journalist.
A lot of what is written above doesn’t resonate. I can live with name-calling as much as I can live with people not rating the blog or much enjoying it. I don’t think my videos are doom and gloom — I think I just give my opinion and it’s neither positive or negative. It can be either. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
I don’t think I’ve ever hammered the team for not drafting players I like. I’ve questioned and critiqued some decisions, which is fair given the run of drafts they had not so long ago. I’ve been more critical of the way they’ve approached free agency and the specific positions they’ve targeted in the draft. When I get things wrong, I always highlight it. I flat out apologised after the 2020 draft for not doing enough study on linebackers after they drafted Jordyn Brooks early — something I never anticipated.
I’ve defended the Dee Eskridge pick, despite a lot of people hating that selection. I think it’s obvious their drafting has been better recently.
I never want the team to fail. You don’t stay up until 5am on a Monday night/Tuesday morning to want your team to lose, just so you can ‘ya boo sucks’ everyone about Geno Smith.
The most successful period for this blog — financially and in terms of numbers — was 2013/14. It was also a period without much bickering or abuse. So I have no interest in the Seahawks being bad, either for the blog or for proving anyone wrong.
I don’t think I’m smarter than everyone else. I think I invest more time than most watching college football players and draft prospects and that enables me to have more informed opinions sometimes. But ultimately, I’ve never considered myself an ‘expert’ and that’s why, come draft time, I try to interview ‘experts’ who are in a better position to discuss certain topics.
I think getting big names like Scot McCloughan, Jim Nagy, Will Levis, Shelby Harris, Jim Leavitt, Tony Pauline and Mike Florio to talk is indicative of that desire to speak to more knowledgable people. Interviews with all are available on my YouTube channel and via ‘The Rebuild’ podcast.
I don’t think this is an ‘average’ place for draft coverage though. I think, while I’ll never get everything right (far from it) — I’ve had my fair share of success stories over the years and I do think this is a good resource for draft coverage and Seahawks opinions.
This has become a bit navel-gaze-y and about me but I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think something unsavoury is going on where a ‘with us or against us’ line is being drawn.
For example, I noticed over the last week how it seemed that some people completely turned on Russell Wilson.
Personally — I wouldn’t have booed him. Neither did I have any real issue with fans doing what they thought was best to help the team win on Monday.
Yet I’ve seen people start to imply things that simply don’t chime, then attack people for holding different (more positive) opinions.
Here’s a comment made on the blog earlier today:
I would disagree that ego has not prevented winning. I think it’s RW’s ego that urges him to dominate the defense, rather than take what the defense gives him. A great quarterback picks the defense apart. RW too often stepped to the line determined to throw deep, regardless of the coverage, rather than take the short throw, hit the open man. Those aren’t the glory throws, and RW wanted the glory, the legacy, the brand. Over the years it became almost all ego with RW, masked by “positive thinking” and striving for excellence. He’s good enough, or was (did you see how underthrown the Jeudy pass was?) that he made a lot of beautiful completions. He just didn’t make enough of the other throws that would have taken the defense out of their game. If the will to dominate others isn’t ego, what is? I’m grateful for years of exciting Seahawk football with RW at quarterback, but he and the team have been sorely limited by his increasing preoccupation with himself and his place in the quarterback pantheon.
This, quite frankly, is just utter nonsense.
Wilson had a preferred style of play that was very different to Pete Carroll’s. Their ideologies clashed. They both had strong opinions on the best way to proceed offensively.
Wilson also felt he deserved to have the kind of input and sway other highly paid franchise quarterbacks were receiving and pushed for the same kind of presence. Pete Carroll is also very confident in his way of doing things and stands by his philosophy.
I imagine there was also a sense of time passing for Wilson. He has lofty ambitions, he’s 34 in November and he knows time is of the essence. I suspect he lost confidence in the Seahawks’ top brass to help deliver a Championship.
Both parties were comfortable, in the end, in moving on and having a fresh start. The Seahawks, as is widely known, had been looking around at other quarterbacks. I sense John Schneider tired of Mark Rodgers a long time ago and was probably ready to not have to deal with him. I would also guess Pete Carroll, nearing the end of his career, was less keen on making a change for obvious reasons.
Schneider talked to the Bears a year ago but no deal was struck, reportedly because Carroll said no. This year, all three parties agreed a parting was best.
We don’t need to cook up conspiracy theories, apportion blame or create stories here. The two parties had been drifting for a long time and now they move on.
Nobody was going to be proven ‘right’ by the result of 1/17th of a NFL regular season on Monday. That will be decided years down the line.
But even daring to pushback against the idea that Wilson is a ‘villain’ and Carroll the ‘hero’ had you pigeonholed as anti-Seahawks.
‘With Wilson, against us’.
In reality — I want Carroll to succeed because it means the Seahawks will. I also don’t hold any grudges against Wilson. I’d quite like a high first round pick off the Broncos next year — but that aside, they are an irrelevance to me until they play Seattle again (whenever that may be).
A lot of us are simply passionate Seahawks fans, with big views. Some positive, some negative. But nothing brings me greater joy than a trip to Seattle to watch the team — aside from perhaps watching England at a major tournament (or in Milan against Italy, as I’ll be doing next Friday).
Fanbase battle-lines are being drawn and I don’t think it does anyone any good.
What is wrong with a balanced take that considers positives and negatives? Even if sometimes there are more negatives and sometimes there are more positives?
Or, for that matter, what is wrong with differing opinions and polite (if sometimes robust) discourse?
I’m pretty sure writing these words will have zero impact and might even make the situation worse (at least for this blog). I felt like I wanted to write them anyway and I feel better for doing so.
Check out my stream with Rob ‘Stats’ Guerrera previewing the Niners game: