RENTON, Wash. – Slipping into the front row before his news conference Thursday, Doug Baldwin took a seat between two writers.
To his right was a reporter from USA Today who earlier in the season wrote an article speculating if the Seahawks’ wide receivers could be the team’s downfall.
They exchanged looks and smirks, each quickly realizing who their new seatmate was. When Baldwin hopped onto the stage to start his news conference, he pointed out the writer’s presence.
This is how Baldwin operates. Like many athletes, slights real and perceived stoke his desire.
“I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, I have a boulder,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin is spotlighted this week for multiple reasons. He made a crucial catch up the sideline last Saturday during the divisional-round win over the New Orleans Saints. He didn’t get along with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh when they were both at Stanford and will face him this weekend when the Seahawks play the 49ers for the NFC championship.
When comparing Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and Harbaugh, Baldwin said Harbaugh has a more “militaristic” style. It was one that didn’t mesh with Baldwin, who had disagreements with Harbaugh about how the ball should be distributed.
“Jim Harbaugh and I did not have the best of relationships while I was at Stanford, but all of that stuff is settled now,” Baldwin said. “I was immature; I was a young athlete who thought I knew everything so we clashed at times.”
Baldwin went undrafted after leading Stanford in receiving yards and touchdowns his senior year. The Seahawks signed him to a three-year deal following the 2011 lockout.
His rookie year, Baldwin – again in a run-first offense – led the Seahawks in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. In 2012, he was slowed by an ankle injury.
This season, Baldwin made 50 catches for 778 yards, just below his career highs of 51 catches for 788 yards in 2011. He is crucial to the Seattle offense.
The grind to reach this stage has left Baldwin a blend of pleasant, philosophical, open and angry. Maybe angry is the wrong term, though it has been attached to Baldwin often enough that one of his nicknames has become an acronym, “ADB” for Angry Doug Baldwin.
Stern, serious, passionate are more accurate descriptions. He will fire back at articles he feels were not thorough and reach a misguided conclusion, particularly if the conclusion derides his ability or that of his fellow receivers.
“I’m one of these people that, I don’t like it to be easy, no matter what it is,” Baldwin said. “… So, when you have negative comments that come out about you or your teammates or the team itself, it just adds fuel to the fire. To me, it’s not trying to prove others wrong, it’s trying to prove myself right.”
Three years into his pro football career, Baldwin is one of the top targets on the No. 1 seed in the NFC, plus he was named the organization’s Man of the Year this season. He also shares texts on occasion with Harbaugh now.
“I thank him for the adversity he put me through, so to speak, because it made me who I am today,” Baldwin said. “It made me a better person and a better football player. There’s nothing against him, nothing personal, it’s just a guy that coached me through college and you want to show him that I’m as good as I think I am.”