Given the dramatic finality of the game, so much of what happened in Super Bowl 49 felt irrelevant as we pawed through the rubble for meaning and scapegoats.
Sprinting back from the interview area to the press box, I checked the clock. I had 23 minutes until deadline on a column for which nearly everything I had already written during the game was unusable.
But I thought it worthy of using two paragraphs on Doug Baldwin’s “celebration” of the third-period touchdown reception that gave the Seahawks a 24-14 lead.
I offered the opinion that assuming a position that implied he’d just excreted the football in the end zone “was crass and classless … and inexcusable.”
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I still believe it. And, now, to some extent, Baldwin apparently feels that way, too.
He told 710 ESPN radio on Monday night that it was a heat-of-the-moment expression of frustration, and apologized to anybody who might have been offended by it.
“If I could go back, I would take it back,” he said.
Congratulations, Doug. It’s a large step from his initial “no regrets” statements after the game.
It certainly looked as if he had planned the charade, although his said it was a spontaneous gesture. Regardless. He’s a young man fueled by an unbridled passion that has allowed him to become a starting receiver in the NFL. Maybe that buys him some benefit of the doubt.
But this was such a spectacular disregard for time and circumstances that it seemed beneath an intelligent guy whose effort and work ethic show such a respect for the game.
There’s no way to interpret whether he would like to take it back because he retrospectively realized it was unwise, or because he’s uncomfortable with the widespread blow-back.
As to those who might have been offended, let’s start at the top.
Owner Paul Allen, for instance, saved this franchise for the region, and the team’s three Super Bowl appearances have been largely a product of his patient ownership and subtle shaping.
I don’t know how incredibly wealthy people get that way, but I have a strong suspicion they don’t like to be embarrassed. Having an employee treat the end zone at the Super Bowl like an outhouse is probably not the image Paul Allen would like portrayed of his team to 120 million world-wide viewers.
The act cost the team 15 yards in penalties, but the defense stepped up on the next series so it didn’t result in New England points. Still, the penalty at that point of the game was simply not smart football. Baldwin appropriately apologized to his teammates.
Here’s who I thought of first, though. Steve Largent. And then all of the Hall of Fame receivers who would give anything to have scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Largent had 100 touchdown catches in 14 seasons and 200 games with the Seahawks. He never had the chance to catch one in a Super Bowl.
Cris Carter had 130 TD catches, none in a Super Bowl. Tim Brown had 110 touchdown catches in a 16-year career, none in the Super Bowl.
Even getting to the Super Bowl doesn’t mean scoring. Andre Reed played in four Super Bowls, but never caught a touchdown pass.
Coach Pete Carroll loves that his players are expressive individuals. But as he has said at other times, he wants them to portray themselves in the best light because it’s good for their careers and their image.
Baldwin was better than this, and is the kind of player who could be a strong representative for the franchise.
In the radio interview, he said he’s trying tone down the “Angry” Doug Baldwin persona. Shoulder chips are fine to use as competitive fuel. The league is filled with players who are equally driven, and manage to channel it productively.
He explained that the act was aimed at Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis. What’s misguided is that Baldwin, who is so aware of real and perceived acts of disrespect, would so quickly stoop to dealing in the same currency.
It didn’t play a role in the outcome, and the NFL’s fine of about $11,000 won’t break Baldwin.
And his comments this week might indicate that Baldwin is coming to understand a larger point.
Scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl is a rare, precious and meaningful opportunity. It’s one that Baldwin has worked so hard to earn.
And that makes it a moment too important to just flush away.