Seahawks' Harvin has chance to redeem lost season

Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
Posted: February 01, 2014

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - It was the move that made you realize the Seattle Seahawks were all in for a Super Bowl-or-bust season in 2013.

Just as the Eagles had nearly a decade ago, the Seahawks traded for the kind of No. 1 wide receiver they thought could put them over the top. In the Eagles' case, the player was Terrell Owens, and for one mesmerizing season it looked as if it was going to be the greatest move in franchise history.

The Seahawks, in March, surrendered first- and third-round picks to Minnesota in last year's draft and a third-round pick in 2014 to get the lightning-quick Percy Harvin. They also made him happy and wealthy with a six-year deal that included $14.5 million guaranteed, a reasonable price, Seattle figured, for a game-breaking talent whom his former Vikings teammate Adrian Peterson declared "the best all-around player I've ever seen."

Like the Eagles, the Seahawks reached the Super Bowl after getting their man. Like the Eagles, the Seahawks spent the week before the Super Bowl waiting to see if a doctor would give their star receiver medical clearance to play in the NFL title game.

"I just remember [Owens] going through the whole rehab process and all the different things he was using to cut down on the [recovery] time and he was able to go out there and gut it out," Harvin said as he prepared for the biggest game of his life, Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Owens, with two surgical screws in his right ankle, was not cleared to play by the surgeon who operated on him, but he defied his doctor's orders and put on a classic performance on both media day and in the Eagles' Super Bowl XXXIX loss to the New England Patriots. T.O. said God cleared him to play and Eagles fans sang "Hymn No. 81" all week long.

"My situation is a little different," Harvin said, smiling at the memory of T.O.'s Super Bowl moment.

Actually, Harvin's situation is a lot different despite some of the similarities. Owens played a considerable role in the Eagles' dominating 2004 season before suffering his leg injury in a Week 15 win over Dallas.

Harvin, 25, barely played at all in his first season with the Seahawks, who were so excited after they obtained him. They had made no secret of their need for another wide receiver and had even taken a look at a 39-year-old Owens in training camp before last season.

"Oh snap we getting Percy!!!," fellow Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin tweeted immediately after the March deal. "Haha! We getting better by the minute!"

The Seahawks made Harvin happy and wealthy, but just like the Vikings they couldn't keep him healthy. A torn labrum during offseason workouts resulted in hip surgery and delayed the start of his season until a Nov. 17 game against his former team, the Vikings.

Harvin touched the ball twice in the second quarter of that game. He caught a 17-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson during one touchdown drive and returned a kickoff 58 yards to the Vikings' 46-yard line to set up another touchdown.

Only later did he realize he had returned too soon. Inflammation in the hip resurfaced during the week after the game, and Harvin did not play the remainder of the regular season. He returned again for Seattle's playoff game against New Orleans and caught three passes for 21 yards and ran once for 9 yards, but he also suffered a concussion that kept him out of the Seahawks' NFC championship win over San Francisco.

"I wouldn't take anything back from this season," Harvin said. "It has made me a stronger person mentally."

And he was given a chance to salvage it all when he was cleared of concussion symptoms last week back in Seattle.

"I honestly got chills in my body," Harvin said. "I just ran up and hugged the doctor. I gave all my teammates a hug and thanked them for standing by me."

The Seahawks actually did just fine without Harvin, going 13-3 during the regular season as receivers Golden Tate and Baldwin carried the load after another former Vikings receiver, Sidney Rice, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament midway through the year.

"We missed [Harvin] because he was on the team, and we know that he could help us," Tate said. "But we knew how to manage. Last year when we didn't have him we still only lost four games. We feel like we're just fine with or without him. We're excited to have him back because he brings more to the table. He's going to open it up for other guys more. But at the end of the day, we were just fine."

Donovan McNabb made a comment very similar to that one, which Owens perceived as an insult, after Owens suffered his leg injury nearly a decade ago.

Harvin, however, doesn't have nearly as much diva in him as T.O.

"I don't know how much I'm going to play," Harvin said. "I'm going to play as I normally would, and that's all I've been told so far. I'm definitely ready to go. My body feels great, and I've been practicing very well."

If things had gone as planned for the Seahawks, Harvin would have been one of the star attractions during the days leading up to the team's second Super Bowl. Instead, he lurked in the background and received very little media attention.

It's possible, however, that his lost season could end with the greatest game of his life.

"The feeling I have in my legs right now after getting the surgery and the rehab I went through, there is some juice in my tank," he said.


bbrookover@phillynews.com

@brookob

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