The message was succinct and appropriate.
Save It Seattle.
The messenger was Golden Tate, the man with soft hands and big-play ability for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Tate appeared Thursday at Auburn Riverside High School, surrounded by students, faculty and staff pumped up in 12th Man spirit and graced in blue and green. Tate was a special guest, a sports celebrity amplifying the cause for a corporate-backed mission – stop texting and driving.
“So many things can go wrong … so don’t do it,” Tate urged teens packed inside the gymnasium for an afternoon school assembly. “If I can get you some advice, don’t do it. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for somebody else.”
Tate’s visit was the grand prize for Auburn Riverside winning the second annual Verizon Wireless Save It Seattle contest. The company’s online-driven awareness campaign challenged students at seven South Puget Sound high schools to take a pledge against texting and driving.
Auburn Riverside students made the commitment and cast the most pledges.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Levi Durr, a junior, who got the chance to rub shoulders and take a photo with Tate before the assembly. “He asked me how I was. For him to come here with the this message is important. I think it makes a difference.”
For Tate, the appearance was a chance to give something back to the community.
The message was clear.
“You can do literally everything on a Smartphone. That’s a temptation in itself,” Tate said. “But when it comes to texting and driving, it can wait. … Even a simple message can end badly. … Those are things we can avoid.
“If it’s that important, pull over and text or pull over and make the call,” he said. “It’s easy to say, ‘No, I’m not going to text’ …. I know it’s tough, but it’s something everyone can work on.”
Tate also hopes the Seahawks will work out a new contract when the free agency season officially begins March 8.
He was asked: Can Seattle save Tate?
The four-year NFL wide receiver hopes so. The Seahawks face difficult roster decisions as the world champions wrestle with the salary cap. The team must decide whether to re-sign several young free agents, notably Tate, fellow wideout Doug Baldwin and defense lineman Michael Bennett.
Tate is unsure about his future. He led the Seahawks with 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.
“I’m just enjoying being a world champion. I have tremendous faith that everything is going to work out regardless if it’s here or somewhere else,” Tate said in a pre-assembly news conference at Auburn Riverside. “I really can’t worry about it because I did my part, the tough part, performing on the field.
“Hopefully I can call Seattle home for a few more years, but we will see,” Tate said. “I know Coach (Pete) Carroll has expressed that he would like to have me on the team and I’ve expressed I’d like to stay on this team because I see this team winning for a long time. We’ll see. Only time will tell.”
Free agency has never been too kind to a champion’s roster. The Baltimore Ravens lost eight starters after winning the 2013 Super Bowl.
“The sad part about the Super Bowl is looking in that locker room (and knowing) it’s never going to be the same. Never,” Tate said. “You’re going to lose coaches, lose players. It’s just the game. It’s tough, but it is what it is.”
With negotiations looming, Tate has stayed busy in February. He recently joined teammates in Brazil to participate in a camp to teach children football fundamentals. He was honored in his hometown of Hendersonville, Tenn.
When Verizon Wireless came calling, he gladly appeared in Auburn, spreading an important message. He basked in the glow, spent time high-fiving students, signing autographs and leading cheers. He handed out “Golden” Globes at the assembly, recognizing student and staff achievements.
“This is important,” he said. “It’s a small way to give back.”
Elona Zadneprovoskyaka, a sophomore, came away impressed.
“Having someone like him here makes you listen to what he has to say,” she said. “It most likely will have an effect on me.”
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