In what was described as an "unprecedented effort," the Seahawks joined four other Seattle professional sports teams, the Mariners, Sounders FC, the Storm and Reign FC, this week in a joint endeavor to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
As part of pride month, the teams are partnering with Athlete Ally—a nonprofit aimed at fostering a culture where athletic communities, and all whom they influence, advance LGBTQ and gender equality in sports and under the law—to champion LGBTQ equality and inclusion.
"This marks an unprecedented effort where a city's entire professional sports roster stands together to champion LGBTQ inclusion and equality," Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, said in a joint press conference featuring representatives of all five teams.
While the other four teams are hosting Pride Nights this week, the Seahawks, who are out of season, will be represented by Blue Thunder in this weekend's Pride Parade, and the arches at CenturyLink Field will be lit in rainbow colors this week.
The Seahawks were originally scheduled to be represented by receiver Doug Baldwin at Tuesday's press conference, but he was unable to attend. Filling in for Baldwin, Seahawks general counsel and vice president of government affairs Ed Goines relayed a message from Baldwin.
"He would like for you and for us to focus on watching on how our players embrace tough issues and on watching how we encourage that," Goines said. "It's the same with any issue that's presented to us, any diversity issue, including LGBTQ issues, those will be embraced by us, so we ask you to watch us and to hold us accountable to that."
Goines also read a statement from the team, saying, "The Seahawks organization is guided by overall principles of acceptance and understanding that help us create a culture of respect, equality and inclusiveness both on and off the field. It is our goal to use these core principles and our commitment to passion, character and excellence to empower change within our community. We, as an organization and as individuals, represent and respect a wide range of human differences, personal experiences and cultural backgrounds."
He then added, "That's a statement on paper, but it's a statement that we live, and again, we ask you to hold us accountable to that."
Though unable to attend the press conference, Baldwin did participate in a public service announcement with other area athletes titled "Equality is a Team Sport."
"I'm proud to join other professional athletes in Seattle and demonstrate our commitment to create inclusive environments," Baldwin said of participating in the PSA. "I hope fans will join us and exhibit respect and inclusion on and off the field."
For the Seahawks, getting behind a good cause is nothing new for the organization or for individual players. As Goines pointed out, several players, led by Baldwin, have been involved in a task force aiming to build a bridge between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, just one of several causes backed by players.
"We have a very large platform, and because of that, we take a real careful approach toward what we say as an organization and what we get behind," Goines said. "I think our players do a really, really good job of educating themselves first before they take that platform. We've done a decent job of aligning the organization's values, the organization's initiatives with players' initiatives… We really bring a bunch of issues to the table and say, what are the issues we feel like we can make a big impact on because of the reach we have?"
Using that reach is something Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has strongly encouraged his players to do.
"We've really openly encouraged our guys find their calling and to act on it and then follow through with it," Carroll said earlier this offseason. "Really all we're doing is getting out of their way and supporting them, but I think there's enough conversation in our building about responsibility and opportunity to do things and to create change and to affect other people's lives, really from their hearts. I think you see our guys doing it in marvelous ways."