By: Will Burchfield
Had it not been for a freak snowstorm in March of 2014, Golden Tate may never have signed with the Lions.
“I have thought about it and I don’t know, I just don’t know,” Tate said on Tuesday, reflecting on his free agent visit with the Lions that took place nearly three years ago. “I know I didn’t come in with the mentality that if I leave this building I’m never coming back — so maybe, maybe not.”
Fresh off a Super Bowl victory with the Seahawks, Tate flew into Detroit to meet with the Lions’ front office and coaching staff and spend time at their practice facility in Allen Park. He was supposed to leave the following day, but a late-winter snowstorm kept his flight back to Los Angeles on the ground.
“So I was stuck here,” he recalled, “which ended up being a blessing. It allowed time for my agency and the Ford family and whoever else to negotiate my contract and I ended up signing it.”
The delayed flight also allowed Tate to catch an afternoon snooze. Weary from his travels and waking up at 5 a.m. earlier that day, he sought out a cozy upstairs room at the Lions’ practice facility and rested his eyes while his agents went to work.
“I woke up a few times and checked my phone and saw that we had something in place,” Tate said, “and boom, here we are.”
The deal was worth $31 million over five years, with $13.5 million guaranteed. Tate didn’t hesitate signing it when he woke up.
“I wanted to go where I thought I would fit in the best first, not waste anybody’s time. I came here and the presentation was excellent. I could definitely see myself being here for four or five years, and here I am,” Tate said. “And I still have no regrets. I’m super thankful to be here and be representing this city and this state.”
Tate had visits with other teams planned during his free agent period, visits he likely would have taken had he not been snowed in in Detroit. But Mother Nature intervened, and the Lions reaped the rewards.
Tate has the chance to exact some revenge this weekend when the Lions visit the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, speaking with local Detroit media on Tuesday, said the organization wanted to re-sign Tate in 2014 but there was a breakdown in communication.
“I’ll just tell you this, 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.”
Tate spent his first four NFL seasons in Seattle, catching 165 passes for 15 touchdowns and well over 2,000 yards. He blossomed into a star in 2013 and helped lift the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
“I thought they wanted me back,” Tate said. “I thought I did everything I could, helped them win a Super Bowl and was in the community, was a good guy. But it worked out. Hey, I’m happy where I am and excited about the future of this organization. Hopefully I’m here for a long, long time.”
The Seahawks have turned the page as well, but Carroll said the organization remembers Tate fondly.
“I loved him on our team but you can’t keep everybody and so during the process of the negotiations he went elsewhere,” Carroll explained. “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.”