CHICAGO (FAXXNA/jGLi) – The impact of the iconic still photo of Filipino American wide receiver Douglas Dewayne Baldwin, Jr., carrying a Philippine flag upside down before his Seattle Seahawks took to the National Football League field last November to raise awareness to the devastation of super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) might have caught many Filipinos by surprise as they were busy in the rehabilitation of the victims.
But it might now be sinking in the minds of the Filipinos after Baldwin played a big part in helping his Seahawks team rout Peyton Manning’s favorite Denver Broncos, 43-8, to win its first ever Super Bowl XLVIII last Sunday (Feb. 2) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The undrafted Baldwin led the team with five catches for 66 yards in the Super Bowl victory. Baldwin caught every one of his targets and hauled in a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter by dodging two defenders near the goal line. Baldwin made 13 catches for 202 yards in the postseason.
An undrafted player is one who enters the NFL Draft but is not selected by any team in the draft’s seven rounds. Undrafted players are free agents and can sign with whatever team he so chooses if that team is willing to take them.
Although, he was playing a reduced role in the Super Bowl due to hip injury earlier and following the return of his fellow wide receiver Percy Harvin, who had also recovered from hip and concussion injuries, Baldwin was one of the players applauded by his Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll after winning the title of America’s most popular sport. Carroll said, “I think it was extraordinary last night to see Jermaine Kearse score a touchdown and Doug Baldwin score a touchdown, and [linebacker] Malcolm Smith gets in the end zone and scoops up another fumble. Guys that are not the heralded guys coming in competed in our program and found a way to contribute in enormous ways.”
REDEEM SELF BEFORE OLD COACH
Baldwin, 24, a native of Gulf Breeze, Florida, however, seemed to have redeemed himself earlier when he played hero for the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game by beating the San Francisco 49ers with six catches for a season-high 106 yards, and also added a 69-yard kickoff return despite suffering hip injury in the second quarter.
San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh had the chance to draft Baldwin in 2011 while Baldwin was attending Stanford University. Baldwin, 5’-10”, 189 pounds, said because he “did not have the best relationship with Harbaugh” and he was “dealing with injuries” which prevented him from “performing the way I wanted to on the field,” Harbaugh did not draft him. But he told USA Today that he now thanked Harbaugh “for the adversity he helped me through, so to speak. He made me who I am today, a better person and a better football player. It’s nothing against him personally. I just want to show him I’m as good as I think I am.”
After becoming starter at Seahawks, where he is on his third season, and after beating 49ers, Baldwin was still being praised by Harbaugh, even saying, “I should have drafted him.”
Perhaps, one of the biggest influences to Baldwin’s fondness for things Filipino was his Filipino grandmother, Pica, who introduced to him such Filipino foods as lumpia, adobo and pancit. She must have endeared him no end to Filipinos that when he thought of attracting attention for the victims of Yolanda in his grandmother’s hometown of Tacloban City, he made sure he carried a powerful message – waving the Philippine flag upside down that is only done in the field of battle, not during peace time.
Baldwin told Seahawks.com guest columnist Steve Kelley that his grandmother married Baldwin’s grandfather, Junius, who was stationed in the Philippines, and moved to Gulf Breeze, Florida. His grandmother kept her native country’s heritage and customs by teaching them to her daughter Cindy, who passed them along to Doug.
Baldwin described his grandmother as not having “a whole lot, growing up in the Philippines. She’s very intelligent woman, but she wasn’t able to go to school because her family could only afford to pay for her sister to get an education.”
DOUG LEARNED VALUES FROM GRANDMOTHER, MOTHER
Baldwin said, his grandmother and his mother told him about “their lives (in the Philippines) had been and how they got through those times. They taught me my values growing up.”
Kelley said Doug’s grandmother, “made the Philippines important to Baldwin. Much of the foundation for his success came from his time, learning about the country from his grandmother.”
Baldwin carried the lessons he’s learned from his grandmother into his career and he worried with her when news of the devastation from Typhoon Hayian was slow to reach the States.
“For a long while, my grandmother didn’t know if her family back there was safe,” Baldwin said. “It was a scary time. She finally got a phone call that told her all of her family was alive and safe. Many of their houses were destroyed, but there were no serious injuries. It was a real relief.”
Baldwin even posted in his Twitter account the food his grandmother cooked for him and, of course, the photo of his grandmother and his fellow Filipino American Miami Heat two-time NBA champion Coach Erik Spoelstra.
In an emotional moment when he carried the Philippine flag upside down as his Seahawks were hosting Minnesota Vikings at their own CenturyLink Field last Nov. 17, nine days after Yolanda made the landfall in the Philippines to raise funds for victims Haiyan, Baldwin said, ‘’We are fighting the devastation of Haiyan which has been worse than many war-torn regions of the world.”
Baldwin said he has “too many family members to count” living in the Philippines, including his grandmother, the Seattle Times reported.
“It was stressful at first just because you didn’t know what was going to happen. Most of them have been accounted for. One of my family member’s houses is completely gone and the majority of my family members are staying in my grandmother’s sister’s house. The only thing is that it’s been difficult to get them food and water because it’s not been accessible to do so. Bust most of them we have heard from and they are doing okay. – Doug Baldwin”
Seahawks fans donated to the relief efforts and team owner Paul G. Allen matched all the donations to the Red Cross.
The Seahawks started a fundraiser among its supporters for the typhoon-stricken Visayas, having solicited over $24,000 for the relief operations to be coursed through the Red Cross in Washington. In one of its games, the team managed to raise $12,070, according to its Twitter account.
Baldwin, who has not yet been to the Philippines, said, “I’m seriously considering taking time out this off-season to make sure I get out there. Because that’s my family,” Baldwin told the Seattle Times. Most of his relatives’ homes were ravaged and they had to stay with his grandaunt, he said.