5 takeaways: Tate, critical fans and NFL business
By Michael Grey
Five thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports and beyond:
Golden Tate’s Internet detractors here in Seattle and the receiver’s recent round of interviews both share a common blindspot – the business of the NFL. If, as a fan, you have taken Tate’s departure personally and feel as though he owes you or the city something, you’re out of your mind. Tate isn’t city property, he’s an employee. He found more fruitful employment elsewhere and took the opportunity that the vast majority of employees in any profession would have taken. The man plays football for money, he can get more money elsewhere, that’s it. For Tate’s part, going on a radio tour dropping bombs about the “laughable” offer from the Seahawks both encourages fan attacks and misses the point in his own way. The offer here in Seattle was what he was worth to this employer, that’s it. In Detroit he found another employer with a greater value on his skills. Good for him. The real mistake is in the assumption he has “Golden Tate fans” and that he’s being disrespected by them. Those people at CenturyLink are Seahawks fans and they will continue to be Seahawks fans now that he’s gone. He should expect support and cheers from Lions fans now (and those fans will stop cheering the instant he dons another team’s helmet). Tate shouldn’t claim he made a business decision and then emotionally react to fans. Mistakes on both sides and – to be completely honest – the type of NFL story that only gets run in March.
It’s Miller. It’s Franklin. Wait, you’re both right?
One of the most interesting battles in spring training is at shortstop between two young guns in Brad Miller and Nick Franklin. For their part these two have done nothing to disappoint as both have played well in Peoria with Miller hitting .440-plus and leading the team in home runs while Franklin has looked rock solid fielding his position. The only downside to this battle for me is that one of these guys (and at this point it’s Franklin) will start the year on the bench, in Tacoma or on another roster. We sit less than two weeks from opening day and this M’s roster still has too many question marks in the field and the order to lose a guy that can play. General manager Jack Zduriencik told 710 ESPN Seattle this week that neither player is on the trading block so there’s some relief there, but that doesn’t get both guys on the field. With questions about Corey Hart’s health and stroke, Logan Morrison’s home in the field and Justin Smoak’s ability to find the consistency he had at the plate last year from May-August, there needs to be a place for a gritty ball player like Franklin.
Football is their business and business is good
Earlier in the week I asked this question on Twitter: “With 12 days to the start of MLB and 50 days to the NFL Draft, what’s your countdown clock set to?” Obviously this is a completely un-scientific sample, but the loudest response was for the NFL Draft. It again illustrates the NFL’s Godzilla-like dominance over the sports landscape. Pro Bowls that no one seems to like, combine workouts with players that haven’t seen a snap of pro ball, free agency and the draft routinely outdraw regular-season contests in the other leagues. Imagine liking a car so much that rather than just test driving and buying it you tour the steel mill to watch workers fabricate the materials to forge the frame – this is where we are with the NFL. Our national love affair with the NFL no longer borders on obsession, it surpasses it. We don’t just covet the game but anything and everything associated with it. Incidentally, I love football as much or more than the next guy, but give me a sport playing real games every time over the business wing of another league. I can’t wait for opening day.
In a world dominated by professional football there’s nothing that grabs our collective attention like the Tournament. Office pools, sick days (looking right at you, Jim Moore) and “work-ins” pop up from coast to coast as we all sit and stare at college hoops. The most fascinating part of all of this – and I am absolutely one of the gawkers – is that so many of us pay zero attention to college hoops throughout the regular season. Even those that do typically are following just one team or conference. What other sport is so largely ignored only to have the entire country dial in for its playoffs? There’s just nothing like it. Even fans with no rooting interest (Washington and Washington State fans, for example) will be dialed in and drawing lines through their brackets as the games tick by. For me, it’s as close to pure fun as you will find in big-time sports today. Having said that I will now go tend to the smoldering wreckage of my bracket and blinking at the TV.
The Jared Allen Watch has been in full effect since the start of free agency and it’s served as a great reminder of why I fell in love with Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. I joked this week on Twitter (and again, if you’re not following @TheMichaelGrey this type of hard-hitting material is what you’re missing out on) that the Seahawks should do whatever it takes to seal the deal with Allen, even if it means a seaplane ride or letting him toss a fish in the Market. Immediately I got responses full of ideas and experiences unique to our home, from rain-driving lessons to guided steelhead trips to Squatch hunts and more. It might be because I’m rounding out my first year here in Seattle, but there’s just so much to love about this place and an abundance of pride in the area’s assets. I’m sure that someone is already crafting their snarky comment about how money and a championship opportunity are what will get a deal done with Allen, and before you go further I understand that (so stop typing and go outside or something). Spring is here, we’re all about to enjoy the best time of the year in the best place in the country and I, for one, just think that it would be a little more entertaining with No. 69 in the fold getting ready to rodeo rope quarterbacks while wearing Seahawks navy. However, with or without the big fella I’m looking forward to further exploring and getting to know my new home.