By Michael Grey
Five thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports and beyond:
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
Thursday night was the offseason Super Bowl for the NFL with prime-time eyeballs glued to the opening round of the NFL Draft. Thirty-two fan bases with hope springing eternal waiting to see which player-yet-to-take-an-NFL-snap is going to vault their team to a championship. If it sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. No one player is going to do that, and despite draft “grades” that will be out by the time the weekend is over, no one really knows the value of the players selected for years to come.
However, in a copy-cat league bent on instant gratification you can spot trends, and this year’s opening round was hued in Seahawks navy. Seattle didn’t make a pick, but with four safeties taken (the most in the last decade) and nine defensive backs in all, it’s not hard to see that teams have taken notice of the Legion of Boom. It wasn’t that long ago that safety was treated much like the offensive guard of the secondary, but a couple of guys named Earl and Kam have changed that. Now, whether or not just any team can assemble a secondary that dictates the game from the backfield remains to be seen, but with both the Cardinals and Niners among the teams bolstering the safety position in Round 1, we’ll get to see these look-alike-LOB attempts here in Seattle early and often. Either way it’s easy to see how the Seahawks’ draft history has now affected the future of the NFL.
Doll dolla bills, y’all
In related news, Earl Thomas recently became the highest-paid safety in the NFL and this week was joined in highest paid-ness by Richard Sherman, who is now set to make $57.4 million over the next five years. The extension makes Sherman the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL and cements the core of the Seahawks’ secondary for the better part of the next half-decade. Perhaps the greatest testament to what coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have built here in Seattle is the fact that their biggest moves in free agency or the draft are re-signings of their own personnel successes. With these massive deals on the books there will be greater pressure than ever on the Seahawks to find starting-caliber players in the cost-controlled draft, but in the Not For Long NFL the Seahawks are built with an expanding trophy case in mind. LOB!
Careful what you wish for
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided that he’d open up to Twitter and take questions this week. I’ll never know why Goodell insists on trying to put a happy face on the league for the fans; it’s not necessary. Ultimately, the Commish works for the owners and by those standards (as in stuffing the owners’ pockets with cash) he’s done as good a job as anyone could ask him to do. The fans and the players are more inclined to hate the guy and that’s OK because both groups still love the game. As the boss, you can’t expect everyone to like you and when you open the floor for questions you risk exposing even a good situation to damage.
From questions about rule changes to inquiries about head-trauma research to questions from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about the racist nature of the “Redskins” moniker, many of the unglamorous issues facing the NFL were on display. The league is having unparalleled success right now and it would be a great time for Goodell to sit back, watch the ratings sore and count his mountain of money – quietly. Allow the fan base to put you in the black hat. Allow the players to see you as a villain. The checks all cash the same and it’s tougher to damage the brand by keeping your mouth shut.
The Sounders are on a franchise-high five-game win streak and sit alone in first place in the Western Conference of MLS, but it’s how they’ve won that is more striking than the wins themselves. Week in and week out, these Sounders are finding ways to come back from deficits, scoring tying goals in the second half and then tallying the winning score late. This week, the winning goal against FC Dallas came at the 88-minute mark. The week before against Philadelphia, the tying shot came in the 61st minute with the winner in the 88th. Two weeks ago vs. Chivas USA, the Sounders waited until the 81st minute to get the go-ahead goal for a 2-1 result.
None of these matches take into account the biggest regular-season comeback in franchise history six weeks ago in Portland in which the Sounders came back from two down to get a 4-4 draw with a two goals scored in the 85th and 87th minutes. If only coach Sigi Schmid could start games with the clock at the 49-minute mark this club would be unstoppable, and while no supporter wants to see the Sounders so routinely down a goal it’s been remarkable to see this team battle back and get to its MLS-high 22 points. If you haven’t tuned in, you don’t have to wait long as the Sounders take on New England this Sunday. Make sure you watch until the very end.
Hockey Night in Seattle
If you’re out and around in Seattle on Saturday night stop by at The Angry Beaver in Greenwood from 7-9 for the second-annual “Hockey Hangout” and a chance to talk about the prospects of NHL hockey in Seattle. There will be a number of media experts (and me) there to discuss the topic, and best of all, proceeds from the event go to The Red Cross and its efforts to help victims of the Oso landslide. From the current Stanley Cup Playoffs to the latest details on bringing the NHL to Seattle, it should be a great night for any hockey fan. Tickets can be purchased here.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend and if you feel the need to know more stuff that I think about, please follow me on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.