Former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had a chance to leave the Super Bowl champs gracefully. Instead, he fell back on a bad habit: The taunt.
I wish Golden Tate had taken the money and run. Just run. Say nothing. G’bye.
But he didn’t. Just as he couldn’t resist taunting Rams defenders when he caught a game-winning, 80-yard touchdown pass in October, he couldn’t resist taunting the Seahawks after his departure to Detroit for a five-year, $31 million deal as free agent.
As with all free agents in sports, Tate was entitled to receive whatever the market provided. He needed to answer to no one; he played the system perfectly and was rewarded. The fact that the Seahawks couldn’t come close to the Lions’ offer is too bad for Seattle.
Yet he had to mock the Seahawks’ offer, calling it laughable.
“I’m going to earn in one year at Detroit what Seattle was going to pay me for two years,” he told the “Bob and Groz” show on ESPN 710 radio this week. “Seattle offered numbers that were laughable. I thought, ‘I’ve given you everything and this is what you give me?’”
Reminded that he said after the season he said he was open to offering Seattle a hometown discount, Tate said, “I didn’t say I was going to take 40-50 percent off.”
While we don’t know Seattle’s offer, we do know that the Lions, desperate for a receiver to take the pressure off star Calvin (Megatron) Johnson, gave Tate (Minitron?) $13.25 million guaranteed, including an $8 million signing bonus. Atop his $1.5 million base pay, that’s $9.5 million in 2014, a figure the Seahawks would have no willingness to pay the No. 2 or 3 receiver behind Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin.
The Seahawks’ salary-cap limits were knowable by Tate and his agent. Instead, Tate played the victim card.
“I really had no choice. I tried. I tried,” he said. “I did my very best to stay in Seattle, and I hope you guys believe what I’m saying. I came out to the public and said I will take a discount . . . and it still wasn’t enough.
“I did everything right, and the offer . . . it was like, ‘Is this serious?’ ” he said. “But the organization is offering guys from other places (Harvin) almost three times what they even offered me. And I was kind of like, ‘Are you serious? I’ve given literally everything and this is what you give me.’ ”
If that primadonna petulance wasn’t enough, Tate was moved to challenge some fans.
“I’m just appalled at the attitude I’ve received on Twitter from people I thought were Golden Tate fans,” he said. “People are starting to show their true colors. I think the world of the 12s (Seahawks fans), but there is a large group who very quickly turned on me. It kind of bothered me because I felt like I gave everything I possibly could to the city of Seattle.”
For a bright guy, Tate doesn’t sound like it. How he determined what a “large group” was, he didn’t say. But 10,000 wouldn’t qualify as large in the sports social media universe. Twitter is another bubble world, as minimally representative of all Seahawks fans as Dobermans are representative of all dogs.
That’s not putting down Twitter or dogs. But only 18 percent of online users in 2013 say they tweet, according to a Pew Research poll. Many of them don’t follow sports. And some Seahawks fans aren’t online. So to draw anything but a laugh from the responses by some segment of his Twitter followers, many of whom are anonymous, is the height of folly.
In any event, fans are as entitled to their anger and disappointment as Tate is to his money. If fans weren’t emotional, they wouldn’t be 12s.
Tate did say in the interview that he received congratulations from many teammates as well as coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider. But Tate even ham-fisted that part, saying, ” . . .no matter how much (fans) bad-mouthed me or how much the (the Seahawks offered) me. I love Seattle.”
How patronizingly noble.
He’s 25, but Tate remains as immature as he was in the Rams game, which drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that could have been large in a game the Seahawks won 14-9.
“That was immature of me,” he said after the game. “Hurt my team. I’ve gotta stay composed . . . act like I’ve been there before. I gotta apologize to our special teams. I put them in an awkward situation, but more than happy to get up and learn from it and move forward.”
Said Carroll after the game: “It kind of washes away a fantastic football play.”
It kind of does.
And his response after the Lions contract kind of washes away any clues about his own behavior Tate claims he picked up after the taunting penalty.
I don’t expect Tate will suffer much Seattle-centric consequence for his narcissism. But it would be cool if, for his own sake, he someday learned the value of grace in his public dealings. As in:
“I took a great offer. The Seahawks did what they could, and I appreciate it, just as I appreciate all the fans, even those who were hurt by my decision.”
That seems far easier than pulling away an interception from a Packers defender in the end zone to score the game-winner on Monday night football. That’s a controversy worth remembering.