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With expectations high, Seahawks stress responsibility

AP13080216720
"Leave no doubt 24/7" is the reminder written on the back of Seahawks players' and coaches' T-shirts. (AP)

By Danny O'Neil

Leave no doubt, 24/7.

That's the message written on T-shirts distributed among the Seahawks and their coaches. The phrase is written on the back to keep its message at the front of the team's mind. More than a motto, it's more like a mission and it's something worth considering for anyone who questioned how this team is going to handle both the expectations and scrutiny that are going to be part of this season.

To understand why this is important, you need to know where it came from: inside the locker room. One of the youngest teams in the league gathered in a meeting and threw around ideas until they decided they wanted to leave no doubt, a statement that's as much about the results on the field as the behavior off it.

"That's what the 24/7 means," said receiver Doug Baldwin. "When you're here at the facility or when you're away from the facility, you have to act accordingly to being a professional for the Seattle Seahawks because you don't only represent yourself, you represent this organization.
"The point is that we're going to leave no doubt of who we are both on and off the field."

This is more significant than a slogan. It shows a team that recognizes both the magnitude of the opportunity in front of it in 2013 and how fragile that opportunity is. It can be threatened by everything from injuries to mistakes to individual ambitions.

The NFL is a business. It's a common refrain among players, reflecting the realty that each and every player is an individual business with his own contract and career. But teams – the good ones at least – find a common ground that allows the 53 individuals on the roster to put the common good first.

"You have to be able to put that aside and play together as a team," Baldwin said.

The Seahawks are certainly not unique in this line of thinking. This month there are 31 other NFL teams who are convening at training camp and talking about how to bring 53 different players together and make one special season.

That doesn't make it any less important to the course of the Seahawks' season. This is a team that returns all but two starters from a squad that was 31 seconds away from playing for the conference championship. This is a team that appears to have found its franchise quarterback, which is as close as you get to a golden ticket in the NFL.

And this is also a team that has had half a dozen players suspended in the previous three years and has shown a willingness to overlook a previous legal scrape or three in the process of player acquisition.

This isn't necessarily a case of the locker room policing itself so much as the players setting a standard that they want to be held to not just in what they're asked to do on the field, but what they consider doing off it.

Leave no doubt. That phrase is no guarantee against future problems. In fact, no one would be so na´ve as to think there won't be mistakes with this many employees who are in their 20s with as much disposable income and social status as NFL players have. But this isn't something to be scoffed at, either.

Because as the Seahawks prepare for this season that is loaded with unprecedented expectations, the players gathered at the headquarters, looked around the room and came up with a phrase that would embody not only the goal for the season, but a measurement of themselves every hour of the day.

Leave no doubt, 24/7.

"I think that says it all in itself," Baldwin said.

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