Welcome to the Dynasty That Never Could Be, a Quasi-Oral History, in Six Scenes, narrated by Seth Wickersham, Greg Bishop and Robert Klemko. Come back daily to see the plot advance, as a new portion will be published every day this week.
Obtained from a fragment of a letter to Katina Smith from her son Demaryius Thomas, dated February 3, 2014:
“The doctors have confined me to bed-rest. While they have assured me that, physically, I am, or at least will be, fine, I continue to witness a lurking fear, a shadow of horror, at the periphery of my vision. They say that nothing is wrong, and insist on inquiring into my state of mind. But they do not understand, cannot understand! I have written to Vernon Davis, in the hope that he can offer any advice, but I still see the hunted look in his eyes, and I fear no counsel or wisdom he may provide or possess will give me any consolation… “
It is a little-acknowledged fact that Kam Chancellor’s nickname comes from Barney Rubble’s adopted son from the 60s cartoon, The Flintstones, whose “excessive and sometimes misused strength” was channeled through a stone club, a sort of infantile Thor. The comparison is apt — save that Kam, unlike his namesake or indeed any mere demigod, had no need of tools or implements to cast ruin upon his enemies. Culminating in 2013, Kam owned by adverse possession the middle of all football fields everywhere, a claim prosecuted by the simple expedient of, like Bam Bam, tossing aside anyone who deigned to intrude*. So fierce was he in his enforcements that, as has been privately conveyed by former teammates, some alleged that the “B” in LOB, in secret, stood for Bam, the Seattle Seahawks’ own Gertrude Stein’s “there.” Kam’s many insistences to the contrary — that the acronym stands instead for Love our Brothers — signifies, above all else, a diplomatic avoidance of rivalry.
* A recurring theme of the cartoon is that, on any of the several occasions that Barney attempts to discipline his son, Bam Bam simply grabs his father by a finger, and repeatedly swings Barney’s body to first one side of his own body, then the other, slamming Barney on the ground with each successive effort, a pendulum of that special kind of animated carnage which carries no aftereffects.
Indeed, Chancellor’s instinct for the compassionate soothing of tensions and madnesses made him the perfect locker-room evangelist of that unit’s mission; so naturally there was never any internal doubt that Kam was the Legion’s center, its vitality, a quiet punctuated by the swinging of a club that wrecked its opponents’ bodies. While Kam was robbed of All-Pro status in 2013, and did not lead the league in any tackling-based categories, it is widely known that he led by a far measure in that under-reported and difficult to measure statistic**, SRfB/T (Souls Removed from Body per Tackle), 0.31; no other player scored better than 0.00.
** While the sample size is small, what is most surprising about SRfB/T is that a simple regression analysis reveals that the coefficient of determination (or r2) between games in which Kam recorded a SRfB/T and Seahawk wins from 2013 – 2016 was 93.7%, an elevated number.
Kam’s style of play began to cause actual bodily deterioration starting in the 2014 season, but much more prominently in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. However, during this span, the ferocity of his play was undiminished. After seven seasons of playing less by any measurement of time, but just as much (if not more!) by any measurement of the removal of spirits, the League was compelled to take action.
First, in advance of the 2017 season, but subsequent to an internal memo that was drafted by none other than Robert Kraft (see Part 1 for essential background), the Competition Committee voted to approve a rules change. Under the new legislation, a receiver running a route was granted the protection of a defenseless player, such that any “unnecessary” contact with said ostensibly defenseless receiver would be penalized by unnecessary roughness, spotting the receiving team 15 yards and an automatic first down (Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8, or 12-2-8). This internal memo, which was later leaked by League personnel, revealed that it was written just after Chancellor and Earl Thomas’ combined hit on Rob Gronk-OW-ski in Seattle’s Week 10 game in New England. The result of the play was that Coach Belichick was forced to replace his star TE with a robot. (According to some sources, Belichick, upon hearing the news that Gronk would need to be held out for the rest of the game, batted no eyelashes, then muttered almost under his breath “Patriot’s Way” before snapping the player’s neck and calling the next android up.) Moreover, follow-up inquiries uncovered strong evidence of a direct correlation between the memo and the change, pointing to Kraft’s complaint therein as the impetus for the change.
And second, in a very similar situation, but this time in advance of the 2018 season, the Committee voted for another modification, this time of the Catch Rule. Extending the defenselessness protection even further, the amendment ensured that receivers were granted that protection while in the process of completing a catch most significantly while performing “any act common to the game” during any attempt to maintain control of the ball (8-1-3). The irony cannot be lost that it was precisely the kind of maneuver so effectively arrested by Kam that was suddenly subjected to further penalty. The architect of this second alteration, however, was closer to home: heavily redacted correspondence to the League offices from professional Kool-Aid Man Bruce Arians revealed, after Kam reduced Larry Fitzgerald to a puddle of red and black gelatin* in the Seahawks-Cardinals Week 10 game, his intent to forfeit all future games against Seattle in Glendale, in perpetuity. While the evidence does not suggest that the League took Arians’ complaint as seriously — he also proposed making all players wear Kangaroo hats, burning down the City of Glendale, removing one of Russell Wilson’s ankles to prevent further injustice, and blurring the faces of coaches from highlight reels — the ruthlessness of Kam’s play forced the League to act upon one of his proposals.
* It should be noted that while all-around nice guy Fitzgerald recovered from his collision just fine, the androidic form of Gronk, powered by diluted vodka and algorithms that mysteriously defaulted to echoes of techno and jokes about boners, posted career lows in games started, targets, receptions, receiving yards, and TDs that same year. Soon thereafter he hit a career high in retirement announcements.
Since 2017, unnecessary roughness penalties have risen by over 10%, with dramatic increases to both the number of flags called and the number of yards acquired. And yet, while we know that a serious neck injury forced Chancellor into premature retirement after that Week 10 game of the 2017 season in Glendale, according to confidential sources, Kam admitted to close friends that the rule changes were demoralizing, making him contemplate retirement before the injury. For perhaps the most solemn proof of this claim, one need only look to the Seahawks’ sideline during the 3rd quarter of its Week 6, 2016 regular season game against the Falcons, in which Kam marginally attempts, and fails, to pacify Sherm; as the camera continues to follow the irate cornerback, moving away from Kam in streetwear, his face increasingly assumes the form and shape a man who has reached the final step on his pathway of options, and Is Done With It All.
While no reports have been made that Kam explicitly used language that the change was akin to his namesake being relieved of his club, or of Thor being unburdened of his power over thunder, no sources can confirm that this isn’t possible. Other defensive veterans, who have since left the team, suggest that Kam’s leadership began to suffer as the effects of that change became clearer, with Kam often interrupting defensive huddles, complaining of a swarthy darkness over the middle of the field that no one else could see, or cocking his head, as if hearing a keening wail from his fallen victims, as if an eerie reminder of his own mortality…