It was all smiles and hugs when Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor turned up at training Wednesday to end his lockout after a night flight from Los Angeles.
Kam Chancellor is back, and his teammates are happy to have him. To a man, that was the response in the locker room at practice Wednesday, where Chancellor showed up early in the morning after ending his holdout. Fellow defenders said they approached Chancellor’s situation as friends and understanding co-workers and did not blame him for the team’s 0-2 start.
“It puts a smile on my face,” said second-year LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, who said that Chancellor’s absence wouldn’t hurt his role as a locker room leader: “A guy that has the presence that he had, he did so much when he was here, you don’t forget that just because he’s going through his own personal issues. You have to support him.”
LB Bruce Irvin said he supported the business end of Chancellor’s decision to hold out.
“People know it’s a business,” said Irvin. “You’ve got to try and make as much money as you can because it’s not for long. People don’t understand, when we get 40-50 years old, we’ll probably barely be able to walk, our bodies will be messed up, so you’ve got to get everything you can out of this game before it’s too late.”
Cliff Avril echoed a similar sentiment, saying that he didn’t think Chancellor had overestimated his power to renegotiate after his re-upped contract last season.
“No, not at all,” said Avril. “I applaud him for believing in something and standing by it. Most guys don’t have enough guts to do that. It didn’t work out at the moment, but it may work out on the back end.”
In Chancellor’s absence, the Seahawks surrendered back-to-back fourth quarter leads en route to an overtime loss to the Rams and a 27-17 loss at Green Bay Sunday. Defensive end Michael Bennett said he didn’t blame Chancellor for the Seahawks’ worst start since 2011.
“I don’t think it made a big difference,” said Bennett. “We had multiple chances at winning those games. If we had gotten blown out, then it’d be different.”
Still, everyone agreed that the defense would be stronger with Chancellor’s return.
”He’s an emotional leader, he’s a tone-setter and he’s one of the best safeties in the league if not the best,” said Irvin.
“He’s going to go out there and do what he does, which is go out there and play hard and smack guys,” said Avril.
Chancellor was in constant contact with his teammates through his extended holdout, and said that their encouragement played a large role in his return.
“I talk to my teammates all the time,” said Chancellor. “So just hearing them talk all the time and how much they miss me, and vice versa, I think those things steered me to coming back.”
“I talked to him every day,” said Irvin. “Every day, every game. Every day I’d send him a text: ‘We need you bro,’ but I’m just happy he followed his heart and happy he came back.”
Bennett said that Chancellor’s contact with secondary teammates DeShawn Shead and Marcus Burley during his absence “says what everyone already knew about him, that he’s a good team guy, he was just put in a bad situation and he had to make a decision of what he thought was right and what was wrong.”
Now that Chancellor is back, he’d rather avoid discussing his reasons for holding out so long.
“That was just between me and business,” said Chancellor. “I’d rather address that and handle that after the season when the time is permitted. But right now, it’s back to playing football.”
As much as missing training camp and one-eighth of the regular season and then not wanting to talk about why might smack of wanting to have your cake and eat it too, the organization has been consistent regarding its attitude in public regarding the holdout.
Avril’s reaction to the strong safety’s return summed it up best:
“Gave him a big hug, and said ‘let’s get back to work.’”