Is it possible to consider a Seattle pro sports team . . . villainous? That's almost as unlikely as calling one a champion. But the Seahawks are opening the door to the possibility of adding a little awkward color to the generally bland-on-bland canvas that seems almost mandatory for this market.
Or is a Seattle team cast as bad guys an unpleasant prospect? In the words of cornerback Richard Sherman: You mad, bro?
The Seahawks don't appear to be in a mood to embrace the idea. Tuesday, the day after the news that backup QB candidate Josh Portis was arrested May 5 for DUI, he was fired. They obviously had a no-tolerance policy, but it wasn't clear whether it was because of the violation or his likely role as a third-stringer.
Another miscreant, Bruce Irvin, was not fired. But the NFL suspended the defensive end for the first four games of the regular season for using a substance, suspected to be the stimulant Adderall, banned by NFL policy. He became the sixth Seahawk suspended for using an illegal performance enhancer, but Sherman had his reversed on appeal.
The accumulation apparently has been noticed by the NFL. According to a story Wednesday on profootballtalk.com, the Seahawks may have been fined about $60,000 for the three drug violations in 2012 under a policy adopted in 2007 that punishes teams for serial violations by players. The league will not disclose team fines, but did confirm to the website that the policy remains in effect. And NFL spokesman Greg Aiello was quoted this week as saying there will be "financial consequences" to teams with multiple episodes.
The fine probably amounts to the cost of the smoke machine used in stadium pre-game introductions. If the NFL were serious, the fine system should start at $500,000, but that's not going to happen. The fines were a policy response to a large number of civil and criminal violations mostly compiled by the Cincinnati Bengals during the previous decade, but led by Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick's convictions on dog fighting.
Apart from the matter of the league's image, the practical issue for the Seahawks is that misbehavior becomes a distraction, a target and a roster liability.
"Your issues become a distraction if you allow them to be," said Pete Carroll on Monday, part of his filibuster-like statement on player misdeeds after the first organized team activity of the off-season. "It’s how you deal with them. You just have to keep taking it one instance at a time and deal with it and try to right the situation. But you also call on others (backup players) to step in so you don’t feel the impact of it. Hopefully we created a roster that can do that. We’ll find out.
"The message will come across very clear to this football team that it’s upon them to make sure that we’re all (present). They have to do their part. You’re going to have rigors on the football field anyway, let alone the stuff that can happen off the field."
Of course, for non-Seahawks fans and others who remember the end of the Carroll era when he coached USC, the high-minded rhetoric sounds a tad tinny. You may recall that the Seahawks hired away Carroll just before NCAA sanctions, primarily about the Reggie Bush recruitment, slammed the Trojans, penalties that helped drop USC to a Huskies-like 7-6 record last season.
Regarding the NCAA sanctions, Carroll was adamant that "nothing (was) there." When it comes to the NCAA and disciplining any program, it is always hard to tell if nothing was true or everything was missed, or both. Regardless, Carroll will never take the arch out of the eyebrows of many who cared about the episode.
And now some dots are being connected to the Seahawks' misdeeds by those in the twitterati who call him "Cheaty Petey." Connection is highly unlikely, but a truism of the digital age is that social media abhors a coincidence.
Carroll, meanwhile, is covered by the convenient excuse that, well, the Seahawks aren't the only ones -- just like USC wasn't the only one.
Asked whether the team is re-evaluating its procedures regarding PEDs, Carroll said, “Continually, because it is not right yet. We all know that there are big issues . . . not just here, not just in this sport, it’s in all sports, it’s in schools, it’s everywhere.
"We have to figure this out and try to help through education and through all of the ways we can, and we’ll always compete to find more creative ways to make the message clear.”
Whatever. Professional and college athletes are always going to look for an edge, legal and illegal, and some of them aren't clever enough to avoid detection. The Seahawks have had some. Finally, it has hit them were it hurts — a starter on the defensive line, which was already missing holdovers Chris Clemons and Greg Scruggs due to major knee surgeries.
And rival fans of the SeAdderall Seahawks have their fodder for feeding cartoon villainy. Just when they were beginning to forget Golden Tate's "intercep-down" that beat Green Bay — hardly grand theft auto, and it did end up being the catalyst for ending the replacement-referee debacle — and embracing the gee-wizardry of QB Russell Wilson, the Seahawks play foolishly with the rules of conduct.
Yes, this is America, where everyone is looking for an edge. The trick is not to fall off.