By: Will Burchfield
When Golden Tate split ways with the Seahawks in 2014, choosing instead to sign with the Lions, he took a lot of flak from the fans in Seattle.
Nearly three years later, he’s still hearing it.
“From ignorant people,” Tate said on Tuesday. “From very ignorant people. But anybody who’s had an encounter with me, spent time with me or actually researched who I am as a person, I still get support.”
The Lions travel to Seattle this weekend to take on the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs. In advance of his reunion with the “12th man” – Seattle’s notoriously loud fanbase – Tate is happy to have received more love than hate.
“A lot of people reached out on my social media who are Seahawks fans and said, Hey, you’re my favorite player, I’m excited to see you come back to town. Unfortunately I’m going to have to root for the Seahawks, but I’ll be wearing your Seattle jersey,’ and so on,” Tate explained. “It’s always good to have somewhat of a legacy like that.”
Tate broke into the NFL with the Seahawks in 2010 and blossomed into a star in 2013 during the team’s Super Bowl-winning season. When he hit free agency in the ensuing offseason, he hoped – and expected – to return to Seattle.
“I thought they wanted me back,” Tate said on Tuesday. “I thought I did everything I could — helped them win a Super Bowl, was in the community, was a good guy.”
But when the Seahawks’ offer came in, it was far too low for Tate to accept.
“I tried to find every excuse to justify coming back,” he told KRJ-AM in Seattle. “But at the end of the day it just didn’t make sense for me or my family.”
So he signed with the Lions instead – thanks in part to Mother Nature – for $31 million over five years. That’s when the backlash began in Seattle.
“I’m just appalled at the attitude I’ve received on Twitter from people I thought were Golden Tate fans,” Tate said at the time, via 710 ESPN Seattle. “People are starting to show their true colors. I think the world of the 12’s, but there is a large group who very quickly turned on me. It kind of bothered me because I felt like I gave everything I possibly could to the city of Seattle.
“I was out in the community and I played my tail off every game. And I helped bring the first ever Super Bowl to Seattle. I don’t care who you are. If you have an opportunity to earn way more money in another city, you’ll leave in a second. Every single person in the world would have done what I did.”
On Tuesday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the organization wanted Tate back but a breakdown in communication led to his departure.
I’ll just tell you this,” said Carroll. “There was a time when Golden didn’t know that we had made him an offer and he thought we didn’t. That’s because it wasn’t communicated. I just felt bad about that. I don’t even know what the numbers were at the time, but that wasn’t the point.
“We were interested in bringing him back and he didn’t get that sense from us. I was disappointed in that, but (the Lions) were going to go higher than we were able to go anyway. I just think the world of him and I just didn’t like that it didn’t come across really clearly at the time.”
“I loved him on our team,” Carroll added, “but you can’t keep everybody and so during the process of the negotiations he went elsewhere. All our players and our coaches, we think the world of him. He’s fun to watch and we watch him every week, and we’ll have a good time competing against him.”
And the fans will no doubt have a good time watching him on Saturday, even if a few are still bitter about his departure.