It's no secret that Doug Baldwin likes to derive personal motivation from his doubters.
When the Seahawks wide receiver recorded three touchdown catches against the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this season, he took to his Twitter account postgame to post a photo of himself and his three touchdown balls at his locker alongside fellow wideout Jermaine Kearse, who had two scores that day.
The photo carried the caption: Too small. Too slow. Too pedestrian. Two and three touchdowns...
It was a reference to comments made in the past about Seattle's unheralded receiving corps in the team's run at appearances in back-to-back Super Bowls. Baldwin, who signed in Seattle as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011, has said he's used some of those comments to fuel his play.
"There's a lot of things," Baldwin said Thursday of what he uses as motivation, just three days before his team's wild-card playoff matchup with the Vikings in Minnesota. "I won't say any specifics, but obviously there's been a lot of bulletin board material we've received here in Seattle as receivers. For us, it's the same thing. It's the same story, nothing's changed. We're competitive by nature, obviously, so even just getting an opportunity to play in the playoffs is something that we value.
"For all of us, we're just going to take this opportunity, regardless of if somebody gives us bulletin board material, and we're going to run with it. The motivation is to win this football game."
Baldwin enjoyed the most successful season of his five-year career in 2015, finishing with 78 catches for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns, all career highs.
His 14 touchdown catches were a Seahawks record that also tied for the most scores in the NFL this year. Ten of them came in a four-game stretch, tying Cris Carter and Calvin Johnson as the only players since 1960 to have two-plus touchdown grabs in four consecutive games. His 1,069 receiving yards made him the team's first 1,000-yard receiver since 2007 (Bobby Engram) and his 78 catches on 103 targets gave him the highest pass/reception percentage (75.7) among all players at his position.
With positive press coming Baldwin's way after what was such an impressive season statistically, he was asked if it's any harder to maintain that motivating chip on his shoulder. The wide receiver's response included an interesting anecdote that Baldwin said has helped him mature as a player.
"No, not at all," Baldwin replied. "I think it's easy for the outside perception to say that, or to think that. But spend a little time in our locker room, and you realize just how different we are as individuals and competitors.
"I had a great conversation with my mom during the offseason," Baldwin added. "She told me I need to stop wearing the chip, or the boulder on my shoulder. She said, 'Let's have wings on your shoulder, because that'll help you fly further and higher.' I don't look at it as a chip or a boulder any more. I've got the wings of an angel, as my mom would put it."
If his most recent campaign is any indication, the offseason advice certainly helped guide Baldwin to new heights. Baldwin said that message from his mother, Cindy, came because "she knows how competitive I am and how hard I try to be successful."
"Sometimes there is such a thing as trying too hard," Baldwin said. "One of our mottos as well here is you've got to work smarter, not necessarily always harder. For me, that's a growing period, I guess, if you will. As you mature in age, as you old guys would know, you learn that sometimes you don't have to work as hard on something that you don't have really any control over.
"I had to let go of the things I didn't have any control over. For me, that's been very freeing and stress-free way of living."