SEATTLE – The Timberwolves traded Kevin Garnett. He won a championship. The Twins dumped David Ortiz, and he won three. The Vikings traded Randy Moss and cut Rich Gannon, and both made it to the Super Bowl.
The notion of a Twin Cities professional athlete leaving for greener pastures and paychecks is not novel, nor is it forgettable, not with former Viking Percy Harvin promising to make the best team in the NFC better. “I think I showed them that I have the confidence to play football again,’’ Harvin said.
Harvin fit in nicely on the day he made his debut for the Seattle Seahawks, from his turbo-boost cameos on the field to his postgame wardrobe choice.
After catching his first pass and returning his first kickoff as a member of the Seahawks in their 41-20 victory over his former team, Harvin donned a brown flannel shirt, like he was heading out to see a Pearl Jam concert.
Then he offered glimpses into his mood and medical history that he kept hidden when he was a Viking, revealing that he underwent an appendectomy last year to remove a tumor after an ankle injury ended his season.
Asked about his first and only catch of the game, on a ball he tipped to himself, Harvin said: “I can’t even describe that play, just for me to able to be in the field again. A lot of people [don’t know about] the two or three surgeries I went through, the appendectomy, the tumor that was taken out during the offseason.
“There was a lot built into the game other than my hip. So, emotionally, it was good to be back out there with my teammates.’’
Seattle is an NFC-best 10-1 entering a bye week and just beginning to regain team-wide health. In fact, its only significant injury Sunday came in the form of receiver Jermaine Kearse’s concussion, which allowed Harvin to win his weeklong argument with coach Pete Carroll about returning kickoffs.
“I talked to him,’’ Harvin said with a smile. “I had every offensive coach yelling at him on the headsets. I had the guys upstairs in the box yelling at him, I had his son yelling at him. It was something I wanted real bad.’’
Finally, Harvin said, “Pete said get your tail out there,’’ and Harvin took a kickoff 58 yards with a burst of speed that demonstrated that his injured hip is healed, and that his speed could turn the Seahawks offense from workmanlike to explosive.
“There’s another play in the game where we don’t hit him, when he goes deep and he runs through the defense and looks ridiculously fast,’’ Carroll said.
Harvin looked happy, too, one year after forcing the Vikings to trade him because of his tirades on the sideline and in the facility. He raved about quarterback Russell Wilson (“I’ve been in love with Russell since I’ve been over here’’) and the offense of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was the Vikings’ coordinator when they drafted Harvin.
Last year, Harvin became one of the most productive offensive players in the league despite playing in an offense that rarely threw deep.
“This offense does the exact opposite,’’ he said. “It allows you to stretch the field, as you saw today.’’
Harvin finished with one kickoff return and one catch for 17 yards in 16 snaps. His statistics were subtle, his effect on the game dramatic. When he ran a deep route or crossing pattern, he blew away the man covering him and forced safeties to take notice.
Baldwin noted that after Harvin’s kickoff return, Harvin “looked at the Minnesota sideline. This was a very important game for him.’’
Harvin exchanged hugs and handshakes with Vikings players and staffers before and after the game. He spoke of his close relationship with Adrian Peterson, Jamarca Sanford, Erin Henderson, and the Vikings’ support staff.
“I’ve got nothing but love for those guys, and, apparently, they’ve got nothing but love for me,’’ he said.
Minnesotans may find themselves in another tortured relationship, watching a former Viking become the most spectacular player on a championship team.