The last day of school. In the NFL, it’s known as departure day. The players meet for a final time as a team, clean out their lockers and head into the offseason.
“It always feels like that when you have to clean out your locker and say goodbye to your teammates,” wide receiver Ben Obomanu said. “Because you never know which ones are going to be back and which ones you’ll see in the offseason.
“So it’s a little different. It’s a tough time for a lot of us, but at the same time we’re used to it.”
Matt Hasselbeck used the same analogy when asked what he was feeling, as he stood in front of his cubicle in the empty locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center surrounded by reporters and TV cameras.
“It’s just like a summer vacation that you had in school,” said the Seahawks quarterback, who just completed his 10th season with the Seahawks and 12th in the NFL. “But instead of three months, we come back Feb. 1. So it’s a lot shorter. I think when I started, it was a lot longer.”
School’s out for the season, of course, because the Seahawks lost their divisional playoff game to the Bears in Chicago on Sunday.
Today, they boxed up helmets, jerseys and other equipment. They got teammates to sign helmets, footballs and 12th Man flags. They exchanges hugs and best wishes. They had their exit physicals, as well as meetings with members of the team’s player personnel staff. They gathered one last time with coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
They then took the initial step toward life without a daily dose of football for first time since training camp opened back on July 31.
“I’ve got a bucket list from my wife,” said strong safety Lawyer Milloy, who just finished his second season with the Seahawks and 15th in the NFL. “The first thing is the garage. The next thing is outside. Things like that.
“But right now, it’s a cloudy kind of feeling. It’s always like that. From my rookie year to right now, it’s hard not to think about what just happened.”
Running back. Or perhaps that should be the running game, as the Seahawks ran the ball only 12 times for 34 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Bears and leading rusher Marshawn Lynch had four carries for 2 yards. That after running for 111 yards on 31 carries in their Week 6 victory over the Bears in Chicago.
It didn’t help that the Seahawks lost tight end John Carlson (concussion) on their fourth play of the game and backup Cameron Morrah (turf toe) later in the first half – although he did return in the second half.
“We were scrambling a little bit on what we were trying to do offensively,” Carroll said after the game of playing without his tight ends. “That did set us off a little bit. But we didn’t even try very much because of that.
“We didn’t have a lot of offense with those guys. So you get stuck a little bit. But they’re very, very difficult to run against anyway, and that just amplified the chances in their favor. So it was very hard today.”
The Bears came into the game allowing averages of 90.1 rushing yards a game, to rank second in the league; and 3.7 yards per carry, to rank fourth.
Carlson and cornerback Marcus Trufant were headed back to Seattle after spending Sunday night in a Chicago hospital. Each player got a concussion in the game and was held overnight as a precautionary move.
Morrah will have surgery to repair the ligament he damaged in the big toe on his left foot during the game against the Bears.
STAT DU JOUR
How important is home-field advantage in the playoffs for the Seahawks? They are 7-2 in home playoff games – 5-1 at Qwest Field, 2-1 at the Kingdome. They also are 1-9 on the road in the postseason, including Sunday’s 35-24 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I can’t complain. My whole career has been outstanding. To last this long has been a blessing. But that desire is still inside of me. That’s all I can say right now.” – Milloy, when asked if he planned to play a 16th season