April 23, 2018
Will reading in the locker room get you kicked off of your NFL team?: A case study in Seattle
by Ryan Harrington
It’s rare for us (or anybody, really) to go hunting in NFL locker rooms to find a good literary story. But it’s possible that Bob Condotta has successfully done just that over at the Seattle Times.
After last year’s 9-7 season, the Seattle Seahawks have made some moves during the offseason. For one, they traded veteran defensive lineman Michael Bennett. One way to read that trade is as a strategic bid to get some fresh blood in the clubhouse. You know, throw some hungry rookies in the mix.
Another way to read that trade is as something that had to do with … reading.
The Seahawks reporter for ESPN, Brady Henderso, recently tweeted this gem:
Interesting nugget from @GregBishopSI on @710ESPNSeattle: Michael Bennett told him he’d read books during team meetings last year because he’d already heard whatever Pete Carroll was saying. Helps explain why the Seahawks moved on despite minimal cap savings, solid production.
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) April 18, 2018
Whoa! From that angle it wasn’t the veteran talent that got stale on the field, it was veteran coach Pete Carroll’s pep talks that had fossilized into something completely ignorable.
And while it’s unclear that Carroll saw the offending literature that Bennett’s teammates seem to have spotted, it is true that a close friend of mine got pushed around pretty hard for reading a copy of Moby-Dick in the locker room after a high school football practice. I think getting traded is the professional equivalent of that light roughing up.
I’m eager to know what Bennett—who has a new book out himself, co-written the Nation’s Dave Zirin—would crack open to pass the time. Maybe something contrarian about the state of football? Maybe he was reading into the history behind the anti-fascist tactics used by Colin Kaepernick? Maybe something more avant-garde?
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.