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Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin gives Mayor Ed Murray a glowing endorsement

Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin says he hates politics but has enjoyed speaking about social issues with Seattle and Washington leaders. (AP)

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin entered his meeting with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray with a blank slate. He exited with a glowing endorsement.

“It was an amazing conversation,” Baldwin said Sunday in the locker room after the Seahawks come-from-behind 26-24 win over Atlanta. “I applaud the mayor for the things that he’s doing, the things that he’s trying to do, the initiatives that he’s taken. A lot of things that probably people don’t see and don’t recognize but I applaud him.”

Related: How might Russell Wilson’s national anthem protest have been different?

King 5 reported on Oct. 11 that Baldwin met privately with Murray at the Seahawks training facility in Renton to speak about police training and tactics. While Baldwin acknowledged that he had a meeting, he declined to get into specifics on Sunday, saying “I don’t discuss what we talked about. Sorry.” When asked why he didn’t want to discuss specifics, Baldwin explained that he never discloses the ins-and-outs of his meetings with public officials.

“It doesn’t matter who it was with,” he said. “I just don’t publicly talk about what we talked about in those meetings just out of respect for the guys who are meeting with us because I want them to be able to speak openly and vulnerably, and if I go out and say what they said then other people that I talk to aren’t going to feel like they can do that.”

Following a breakout, Pro Bowl-caliber 2015 season where Baldwin tied for the league-lead in touchdown receptions, the Seahawks rewarded the former undrafted free agent with a lucrative four-year contract extension. Since then, the 28-year-old has been more vocal about social issues off the field. He was the voice of the video that explained the Seahawks “demonstration of unity,” as the team links arms during the Star Spangled Banner. He’s also advocated for 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, who started the conversation to protest the national anthem, first by sitting and then kneeling. Baldwin has discussed his activism on major outlets, including with Sports Illustrated and during a one-on-one with 60 Minutes Sports, and has also called for the attorneys general of all 50 states to review the training policies used by police and to eliminate militaristic cultures while putting a higher emphasis on de-escalation tactics and crisis management measures.”

Baldwin has formed a “Building Bridges” task force, which he says has helped him get in contact with members of the law enforcement and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Though he wouldn’t specify who is in the task force, he said there are people that work for the organization that are helping him and other team members reach out “to the contacts that we want to see, including the mayor.”

When asked if he’s embracing a role as a city leader, Baldwin responded: “I wouldn’t go that far and say all that but, to me, it’s a no-brainer … I see a problem in my community, I see something where I might be able to have an impact and I want to be able to do what I can. That’s the way my mother and father raised me and I can’t help but be empathetic for the community, for the law enforcement and put myself in their shoes and want to do something to help fix the problem.”

It hasn’t always been easy to get ahold of Murray during his tenure as mayor, who has been embroiled in issues including the homeless crisis, heroin epidemic, affordable housing and transportation concerns. Baldwin said he didn’t know much of anything about Murray before the meeting but came out impressed.

“Personally I had no prior knowledge about the mayor, anything that he’s been doing,” Baldwin said. “But leaving that meeting, I gained a lot of respect for him as a human being.”

Baldwin acknowledged that he is getting a chance to speak with decision-makers, like the mayor and attorney general, that most people don’t get and is trying to use his platform appropriately.

“They recognize that as a team, as an organization, we are really passionate about this topic and they’ve been willing to reach out and have the conversation with us and guide us on the path because they know that we have a platform to use that can influence others so they are willing to help us in that manner,” he said.

Though Baldwin’s father was a police officer, Baldwin said he’s surprised himself by his interest in politics. When asked if he’d consider a run for office in the future, the 28-year-old Stanford grad said Sunday that the prospect is gaining intrigue.

“It’s funny, I used to always tell myself, ‘I hate politics,’” Baldwin said. “I still do, I hate politics. But I can’t say that it hasn’t been enjoyable to learn as much as I have. So, I don’t know. I want to say no but … I don’t know, wherever God leads me, pretty much. That’s the way I look at it.”

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