Mychal Kendricks was already spent. Then, he was stunned.
The veteran linebacker out of Hoover High was checking his phone while seated at his locker following an emotional end to an emotional week. His Seahawks debut Monday night came after only two practices with his new team. And it came with him still facing time in prison.
Kendricks had a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit starting for injured Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright in Seattle’s 24-17 loss to the Bears.
Last season’s Super Bowl starter for Philadelphia did that five days after he was unemployed and facing perhaps a three-year prison term for admitted insider trading.
He’s appealing an NFL suspension that reportedly the league has already decided upon for his crime. The NFL allowed him to play Monday because that appeal has yet to be heard. He may be with the Seahawks for only a week, depending on that appeal decision and on whether Wright returns from his arthroscopic knee surgery last month to play Sunday in Seattle’s home opener against Dallas.
Add to all that: Moments after this loss to the Bears game ended, inside the visiting locker room at Soldier Field, he got bad news via a phone message about a family member. He understandably did not want to elaborate on that.
“It’s been pretty emotional, being that I’m in a certain situation,” Kendricks, 27, said, his eyes reddened on his way to the Seahawks’ team bus for their flight home Tuesday morning. “And just having this opportunity to play, it means so much more to me.
“That being said, I plan to do the most with it.”
Kendricks’ deal with Seahawks is week to week for the rest of season, because it’s coming after week one. Only vested veterans on rosters week one have entire contracts for that season guaranteed. So when Wright comes back, there may be no reason to pay Kendricks anymore.
Plus, the decision on his appeal of league suspension could come any day.
“Not too sure. I leave that up to my counsel,” Kendricks said. “But I know that I have an opportunity to play, and I feel pretty blessed to have that opportunity.
“And I really want to make the most of it.”
His sentencing hearing in Pennsylvania on possible 2 1/2 to 3 years in prison, known to be sentencing guidelines there for first-time offenders guilty of insider trading, is scheduled for January.
The Cleveland Browns cut Kendricks late last month after he admitted to the charges brought in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, from his years after Philadelphia drafted him out of Cal in 2012. The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania charged Kendricks and a bank analyst conspired in a scheme from the summer of 2014 to spring of 2015. The alleged plot gave Kendricks non-public securities information on investment-bank mergers that were on the horizon.
Kendricks admitted last month in statement he released through the Browns that he participated in the scheme. Then Cleveland released him.
The Seahawks signed him Thursday, with Wright still out and rookie Shaquem Griffin having struggled mightily as Wright’s replacement to start last week in the opener at Denver. Griffin didn’t play on defense Monday, only on special teams.
Monday, Kendricks played weakside linebacker for a majority of the defense’s 63 snaps. He often left the game as Seattle employed a new defense: three safeties, with Tedric Thompson entering to join starters Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald, plus three cornerbacks counting nickel back Justin Coleman.
Next to Kendricks in the middle of Seattle’s makeshift defense: Austin Calitro instead of All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner missed a game for the first time in three years because of a groin injury.
The players changed, so the Seahawks’ schemes and calls stayed simple.
“We were trying to keep the linebackers from having too much of a game plan, too much of a burden on them,” coach Pete Carroll. “Particularly Mychal, to learn too much. It’s such a short time.”
Carroll said Wright and Wagner had chances to play Sunday against Dallas (1-1).
Predictably, the Seahawks felt their absences immediately on Monday.
On Seattle’s first defensive series, Calitro missed one tackle and Kendricks missed two. Kendricks’ misses were on two plays the Bears gained a total of 35 yards. Kendricks went for an interception on a short pass in the right flat. He missed the ball while diving. That left no Seahawk for about 15 yards behind running back Jordan Howard after his catch. That play gained 18 yards to the Seahawks 6-yard line.
On Chicago’s only touchdown of the first three quarters, to end a 96-yard drive, Calitro was 3 yards out of position for Chicago’s scoring shovel pass. Calitro got fooled by the Bears’ fake handoff before quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s flip inside to tight end Trey Burton.
But then Kendricks and Calitro regrouped and rebounded. So did the Seahawks’ makeshift defense with only two starters who were also playing in their spots this time last year –Earl Thomas and Jarran Reed. They allowed only three points over the next 2 1/2 quarters, and the Bears just 86 yards on 27 rushes.
“I haven’t played in three weeks, 3 1/2 weeks,” Kendricks said. “So my first game back, I felt pretty good.
“I mean, I’ve down this before. That wasn’t my first sack.
“Unfortunately, the end result wasn’t the way we wanted.”