The Vikings unloaded receiver Percy Harvin onto the Seahawks, despite a thoroughly documented history of misbehavior. In Seattle, Harvin behaved consistently with his prior actions.
So why do the Jets think Harvin will be any different?
Every coach believes he’s the guy to get the best out of a player with a history of being a bad guy. Pete Carroll thought he’d get through to Harvin in Seattle. Rex Ryan surely believes he’ll find a way to connect with Harvin in New York. And maybe Rex will; if he does, however, it’ll be a surprise.
Aiding Ryan’s cause will be the presence of Mike Vick, who has become a respected elder statesman for young players who grew up idolizing him. Harvin and Vick are both represented by Joe Segal, who is based in New York. With Segal serving as the conduit, Vick could be the right guy to get Harvin to do the things he’s supposed to do — and to not do the things he has done in Seattle, Minnesota, and Gainesville.
Again, it won’t be easy. At Florida, Harvin allegedly stopped during a 2007 conditioning run and, when pressed to continue, said, “This [expletive] ends now.” The next day, he opted for playing basketball over the prescribed football training.
Harvin also reportedly once grabbed receivers coach Billy Gonzales by the neck and threw him to the ground. Harvin reportedly was never disciplined.
At Minnesota, Harvin clashed with former coach Brad Childress. The disputes included a heated argument that arose when Childress suggested Harvin was embellishing an ankle injury to avoid practicing. Harvin and Childress nearly came to blows; their toxic relationship reportedly contributed to the decision to dump Randy Moss after a three-week reunion, because the Vikings feared Moss was influencing Harvin in a negative way.
Another “heated exchange” happened in 2012 with former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, an ordinarily calm presence who spent a lot of time when Childress was the coach keeping Harvin from making good on threats to not show up for games. It’s not easy to get Frazier upset. Harvin found a way.
In Seattle, it was just as bad. Said one source regarding the situation, “Believe everything you hear about Harvin and the Seahawks.” The reported fracas with former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate happened, we’re told, the night before Super Bowl XLVIII. The source said Harvin body slammed Tate at the team hotel, and that players initially feared Harvin broke Tate’s neck.
While there’s a theory making the rounds that the Seahawks feared Harvin would launch a mutiny against quarterback Russell Wilson, there’s a separate theory that Harvin was in danger of being on the wrong end of a Code Red from teammates who had enough of his angry, moody, erratic ways.
Whatever the specific details, it had to be very, very bad for the Seahawks to cut the cord. There are plenty of temperamental, antisocial players in the NFL. Few get abruptly shipped out of town for a third-day draft pick with more than $19 million earned for only eight games and a first-round, third-round, and seventh-round pick squandered.
As one source told PFT, the Seahawks would have cut Harvin but for the fact that the balance of his $11 million base salary is fully guaranteed. There are no guarantees for Harvin beyond 2014, and the initial thinking in league circles is that the Jets won’t keep him around at $10 million for 2015 — especially if there’s a new head coach who is willing to admit that not even Vince Lombardi could have gotten through to Harvin on a consistent basis.