Home Videos of the Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl YouTube Champions

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Photo by author. Anglican house of worship in Shoreline, Washington.

Don’t know much about the Seahawks outside of their relentlessly peppy coach, that running back guy, all those Adderall suspensions, and that one cornerback with notable self-esteem? That is all most NFL fans know of the NFC Champions, but it's not for lack of trying on the team's part. The Seahawks are the most collectively prolific team in the NFL in terms of filming and publishing their own videos on YouTube.

The Seahawks resident auteurs produce their footage with the same equipment available to non-NFL civilians -- handheld cameras and editing that may have been done in iMovie -- but, since the footage is coming from inside the locker room, it’s roughly as gripping as a polished, big-budget show like Hard Knocks. Also none of the people currently shouting about the Super Bowl on television are involved. Consider this an alternate pregame show:  

The Real Rob Report

It will take a long time and a serious, concentrated effort for a player to surpass (in either quantity or quality) the library of footage that Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson has compiled. A journalism major at Penn State, Robinson has always had gigs reporting on sports while he’s in the midst of playing them, even if he’s had to create those gigs himself. As a YouTube incarnation, the Real Rob Report had a miserable start: Michael awkwardly playing the part of hometown sports reporter -- down to the logoed microphone -- and gritting through rigid interviews with Amar’e Stoudemire, Nikolai Khabibulin, or Ike Davis. It was random and scattershot, since those dudes, polite as they were, had and have nothing to do with the NFL.

And then in September 2011, Robinson orchestrated a stroke of genius (along with an atmospheric jump in view count) with a video called “Behind the Scenes - Seahawks Training Camp.” During a pieces of downtime in the Seahawks’ practice day, Robinson strolled around the locker room, holding the camera while narrating, interviewing, and trash-talking. Like a sketch TV show, there is no plot or organization -- only pieces of scenes that coalesce into an awesomely appealing vibe. There’s Ricardo Lockette and Golden Tate playing bean bag toss. There’s Russell Okung showing off his abs. There’s Marshawn Lynch, sticking his face in the camera and cursing every other word while holding a foam sword.

It’s a real document of a real environment -- an environment full of testosterone, yes, but also guided by a wry, stone-faced sense of humor more than any shade of jock-ular intensity or meatheaded competitiveness.

After only a handful of similar locker-room videos throughout the 2011 season, Robinson hit his videography apex in 2012, ditching the last remnants of formality from the 2011 videos and delivering 15-minute mini-documentaries from offseason workouts, training camp, and then nearly every week of the regular season and playoffs. It’s enough footage that you get a feel not only for the personalities of dozens of players but also for the arrangement of the lockers in the Seattle practice facility, to realize how the droll laid-backness from the offensive line takes place in what is essentially a different organization than the one punctuated by the non-stop yapping from all defensive backs -- even though only a scant few yards of carpet separate the position groups.

Introverted Steven Hauschka -- who is usually more involved with what’s taking place on the ping-pong table than he is with Robinson’s interviewing -- would never under normal circumstances have his life come into orbit with a jovial, drawling colossus like Red Bryant; but here they are, working together, every day.

(Bryant also provides one of the most singularly enlightening moments in all the Real Rob report, after being asked if he has any pre-game rituals: “Superstition for me is not wanting to go back to the projects. So that inspires me to go out there and put hands on folks. So I would say that’s my superstition, is not trying to go back to the projects.”)

As the 2012 season progresses on into the Seahawks’ two playoff games -- Robinson films the season finale from inside the team bus on their way home from the airport after losing in Atlanta -- losses and injuries and interpersonal tensions are a small pile next to the mountain of personal jokes that have accumulated.

Robinson’s last episode, from 2013 training camp, is instructive in illustrating the NFL’s known impermanence. Real Rob Report mainstay Winston Guy is still present to give his nasally impressions of Richard Sherman; Guy would be cut by Seattle a few weeks after the video was uploaded to YouTube. New faces, like the spontaneous freestyler Christine Michael and the quietly quirky Michael Bennett (“I feel like [we’re] the Monstars”), are everywhere.

In late August, the fourth wall propping up the Real Rob Report collapsed: after a side-effect from a medication hospitalized Robinson, he too was cut from the Seahawks. A bedridden fullback is taking up too much space under the salary cap, even if that fullback creates an addicting series of jolly, goofy, awesome videos.

The Seahawks would re-sign Robinson in October and, although the training camp video is his last contribution to YouTube, he has played in all the team’s games in the lead-up to the Super Bowl. After Seattle beat the 49ers, with the cameras turned around on him, Robinson dropped the amused teasing in favor of tears of genuine emotion.

The Fresh Files with MrDbfresh89

The undrafted wide receiver Doug Baldwin is, more so than any other wide receiver across the league, a prototypical sidekick for Russell Wilson: relentlessly Type-A, under six feet tall, and a producer of smart, error-free football in lieu of fantasy-friendly stats. The Fresh Files -- so far only produced during the 2013 offseason -- have a fraction of the running time and view count of the Real Rob Report, just as any spin-off series would.

Baldwin doesn’t contribute to YouTube with the second-career aspirations of Robinson, and usually just answers questions from fans while sitting at his home computer, or, say, showing a highlight reel of his one-on-one play against his kid brother in their driveway in Pensacola, Florida. Baldwin spent the offseason working out and practicing between Seattle and Pensacola, at his alma mater in Palo Alto, and Los Angeles, where many of the “skill position” Seahawks held a self-organized practice at a high school (an event that is also covered by Robinson).

Even on a high school field in April, Baldwin carries an intensity with him -- not a bloodlust, wanna-hit-somebody intensity, something more like extreme anal-retentive perfectionism -- but this is what it takes to successfully tightrope in the white line on third-and-long. Appreciate the craftsman for the unseen hours of toil behind his finished product.

Moffitt Media (forthcoming)

One of the breakout stars of the Real Rob Report was offensive lineman John Moffitt. The Real Rob Report captures Moffitt’s entire two-year arc through the Seattle locker room, from shy, wide-eyed rookie to extroverted entertainer (i.e. attacking a surprised Lynch using “crab kung fu”).  

Traded to the Denver Broncos at the beginning of this season, Moffitt’s surprise retirement during Denver’s bye week was less of a surprise to Rob Report viewers, who were already familiar with his gentle anti-establishment bent:

John Moffitt: Have you noticed how the sports media, like, they, they’re so far off from regular media and journalism as far as: they don’t even bother to ask, like, legitimate questions?

Michael Robinson: Yeah.

JM: Like they just ask open -- I literally had a guy ask me last week, he goes -- and like this, like a serious, like a Phil Donahue style, like: “What about number three?” [pause] That was the question!

MR: That’s a question?

JM: And I was like, “The... the number three? As in one, two, three? Or, our number three?” It was like the most open-ended -- and then they expect you to do all the work. Whereas like real journalists are getting to the core, you know what I mean? Like they would ask you, like, “Yeah, well, what do you think about Russell Wilson’s progression from North Carolina to Wisconsin and then to here; and how do you think along the way he’s built the necessary tools to have the success that he has had now?” That’s a question.

In the early part of the season, Robinson blessed Moffitt with a camera and Moffitt filmed a Real Rob Report episode from inside the Broncos locker room, providing access to a bizarro alternate dimension. The droll humor is still there -- Steve Vallos, collectively describing defensive linemen: “Can’t fake stupid. Can’t fake stupid.” -- but ultimately it doesn’t feel like home: most of the Broncos are confused by the presence of the camera where all the Seahawks are well familiar, and the Denver locker room doesn’t have Seattle’s background ambience of boombox and loud conversation.

These environmental variables maybe or maybe not had an influence on Moffitt’s decision to retire. With the rest of his life ahead of him, Moffitt has dropped hints about a podcast featuring him yakkin’ with his old Seahawks teammates. Stay tuned. If he's anything like his ex-teammates, it will be fascinating.

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