After Percy Harvin was traded to the Jets, the leaks began almost immediately. Harvin physically fought teammates. Harvin pulled himself out of games. Harvin may have been about to “launch a mutiny” against Russell Wilson. Though (presumably) Wilson’s camp spread word through ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that Wilson wanted to keep Harvin aboard and help the troubled receiver through his “anger and trust” issues, it seemed, as someone watching from afar without inside access, that Harvin’s alleged issues with Wilson held the most efficacy in his ouster.
Today, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman shed some light on issues that Harvin had with Wilson, and seemed to back Mike Florio’s assertion that the Seahawks feared the receiver would not be alone in a coalition against Wilson:
Players said Harvin was an accelerant in a locker room that was quickly dividing between Wilson and anti-Wilson. … There is also an element of race that needs to be discussed. My feeling on this—and it’s backed up by several interviews with Seahawks players—is that some of the black players think Wilson isn’t black enough.
This, again, was similar to the situation with McNabb [versus Terrell Owens]. And this, again, will be denied by Seattle people. But there is an element of this. This is an issue that extends outside of football, into African-American society—though it’s gotten better recently. Well-spoken blacks are seen by some other blacks as not completely black. Some of this is at play.
Freeman notes that he doesn’t agree with some of the Seattle players’ sentiment, and cites a tweet from the NYDN’s Manish Mehta that Marshawn Lynch was irate and almost didn’t board the team bus as evidence that there were other teammates who liked Harvin.
This discussion is a minefield that I’ll admit I’m hesitant to jump into, but I’m going to try to do it without inciting Internet mob backlash. On the surface, it seems crazy that we’re even talking about this now. The Seahawks are six games removed from a Super Bowl. Three weeks ago, it was a genuine debate as to whether Wilson would be the first overall pick if you were starting a team from scratch tomorrow. But success is so fleeting in the NFL and there have been some cracks in Seattle’s facade this year.
This past August, SI’s Greg Bishop profiled Wilson’s entourage, all of whom are white guys. Wilson appears in too many commercials to count. There always seem to be cameras around for his community service work. Announcers always talk about his HARD WORK and devotion to THE GAME. Since he entered the league he’s demonstrated precociousness in the Derek Jeter art of speaking in a manner which will draw praise from the sports media, but convey nothing of discernible value.
Freeman also notes that there’s frustration amongst some of Wilson’s teammates when he doesn’t take responsibility for errant passes, but that the same could also be said for Peyton Manning, who faces no such perceived threat of a mutiny. While Wilson was the quarterback of a Super Bowl team last year, however, he does not have nearly the same longevity as Manning.
Aside from Wilson’s entourage, those things could all breed resentment amongst teammates regardless of race. The words not “black enough” are there with Freeman’s sources, and the connotation is that some of Wilson’s teammates perceive that the quarterback lacks sincerity. That he’s always a step ahead of the sappy old media, and manipulates their coverage accordingly. I’m not remotely qualified to diagnose the racial undercurrents of what is reportedly going on, but I can understand the idea of being bothered by the exposure to relentless, fluffy PR.