Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I am not a football junky and am probably about to demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of the the sport, but nonetheless….

I do watch my home team play since at my age and my state of retirement it helps me pass the time. My home team is the Seattle Seahawks. In the nearly 60 years since I’ve lived near, and worked in, Seattle, I’ve witnessed about every incarnation of a professional football team that it’s possible to experience simply by watching them.

One thing is clear to me: football is a team sport. While it’s fun to watch a true star play, they are never enough by themselves to win games. So while a game or two dominated by a star is enjoyable to watch, if the star doesn’t learn how to be a team player over the long haul, the star becomes a hindrance to success and it’s better to trade them and move on. After all, there’s always a new star on the horizon.

The principal reasons to watch a Pete Carroll coached team are that he has an enormous amount of contagious fun and he understands that character matters more than  raw ability. He is a mentor as much as a coach, and he gives his all to each of these roles. As a mentor he understands character and how to meld it, and also understands that if a player has no desire to improve himself, he, the tutor, cannot make a difference. I have tutored many young attorneys over the years, and I know that someone who believes that his/her current status is prime stuff cannot move to yet a higher level for the simple reason that they don’t believe there is one to achieve.

The Seahawks thought they would win the initial game of the 2023 season. They were certain of it. And for one half they played like they might well win. But halftime brought an end to their attempt. They were steamrollered in the second half because they lost their cohesion as a team and descended to a state of widely dispersed individual athletes standing around waiting for someone else to make a difference. No one did.

It is times like these that older players need to stand up and become an example of teamwork excellence. Instead, the younger players were treated to a senior player’s tantrum. D K Metcalf went ballistic. By the time he did so, the game may well have already been in the tank, but in the NFL you can never be certain that will be the outcome. But by the time Metcalf quit pounding his hands and feet on the turf, there was no longer a team that could make s credible last gasp effort.

Having watched Pete Carroll over the years he will no doubt be pointing his finger in his own direction on this Monday morning. If so, he will be taking one for the team, one he doesn’t deserve. But as head coach and mentor he knows he needs to set an example. Too bad Metcalf doesn’t. Metcalf is inordinately pleased with himself on all occasions.  He’s thrown tantrums before. He knows no shame, no humility, no concept of consequence.

This is not a team without senior players who are talented and who reek with humility. Tyler Lockett and Geno Smith come immediately to mind. Especially Geno. He has worked assiduously over the years to keep playing so that he might earn an opportunity. Whether he succeeds or fails this season, he is worthy of a fan’s attention since he knows that there is more for him to achieve on and off the football field. Watching someone with his talent struggle with adversity is educational; watching Geno is like watching Ancient Greek theater come to life. I can root for Geno to successfully wrestle whatever demons he faces to the ground. I can empathize with Geno, but not with Metcalf.

My own non-football take on the situation is that the Seahawks should trade Metcalf as soon as NFL regulations permit so that further meltdowns happen on someone else’s turf. Metcalf doesn’t have the makings of a real star; he is only a brown dwarf disguised as a red one.

About Gavin Stevens

Humptulips County is the wholly fictional on-line residence of Stephen Ellis, a would-be writer, an avid fan of William Faulkner and his Yoknapatawpha County, and a retired lawyer.
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