JOHN CLAYTON

Seahawks’ Christine Michael learns NFL jobs are earned, not given

Aug 10, 2016, 11:44 AM
"Last year was a humbling experience," said Christine Michael, who was traded once and cut twice in...
"Last year was a humbling experience," said Christine Michael, who was traded once and cut twice in 2015. (AP)
(AP)
LISTEN: Seahawks RB Christine Michael

Four years into his NFL career, Christine Michael finally gets it.

He gets the idea that NFL jobs are earned, not given. Considered perhaps the most gifted running back in the 2013, Michaels did more sitting than running. Marshawn Lynch was the main back, but Michael struggled to get backup opportunities. He had only 67 carries in three years, and he played only 19 of his first 48 games.

Last year was a wake-up call. Robert Turbin was injured in the preseason. Lynch wasn’t going to do much in preseason games. The exhibition was Michael’s to claim, and he averaged only 3.7 yards a carry.

Michael was traded to Dallas. The Cowboys eventually cut him. The Washington Redskins signed him to their practice squad and then released him. He landed back with the Seahawks, hungry and humbled. He returned playing his best football, rushing for 84 yards against the Cleveland Browns and 102 yards against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I was here and I felt like I was back on my fourth opportunity,” Michael said. “I wanted to run the ball well. I can’t say I was worried or not worried about getting another chance. I got out here and want to do the best I can.”

Michael has been running first team since the beginning of camp and, believe it or not, he does have a chance – a legitimate chance – to be the starter. But it won’t be easy. Fifth-round pick Alex Collins was a star in Sunday’s scrimmage. Thomas Rawls returned to the practice field Tuesday from the Physically Unable to Perform list and will try to reclaim the starting job.

Emotionally, Michael is a good place. He’s best friends with Rawls. Even though it’s only his fourth season, he has the most tenure in the running back room.

“Last year was a humbling experience,” Michael said.

The biggest thing Michael learned is accountability and being honest with himself. He realizes he got off to a bad start as a rookie. He only played four games and had just 18 carries. His mind wasn’t NFL-ready.

“The first year was on me,” Michael said. “I didn’t take a lot of things seriously. I wasn’t getting into the playbook. I was not taking care of my body. It was my immaturity phase.”

Michael’s off-the-field life has also made him more accountable. He has kids and understands he has to live a high standard.

“Kids watch,” Michael said. “They put everything in perspective.”

The 2013 draft class for running backs was an interesting one. Giovani Bernard, a second-round pick and the first back taken that year, has quietly done a good job and earned a second contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell established himself as the best back of the class but faces a four-game suspension, his second in two years. Montee Ball, drafted by the Broncos, is out of football and has had off-the-field problems. Eddie Lacy has been up and down as a Green Bay Packers.

Michael has resurfaced and is back on the map.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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