This is the End, My Friend
By Brock Huard
The football facility the day after the seasonâ€™s final loss is a surreal and strange place. Exit interviews, team and position group meetings, and a final cleaning of oneâ€™s locker are the tasks at hand; however, all the while there is an awkward dance of good-byes and wonderment of â€œwhatâ€™s next?â€
For nearly six months every hour of your day is planned and choreographed. The final duty, maybe the easiest of all, is dumping your old cleats into boxes to be recycled.
As I watched this yearâ€™s Seahawks team gather one last time, a number of thoughts crystallized:
1. NFL players are really big men, and you tend to forget that until you see them all together, gathered in one place, in street clothes.
2. This team had some tremendous veteran leadership. Lawyer Milloy, Brandon Stokley, Raheem Brock, Olindo Mare are all grey-hairs that have won a lot of football games. They are also in the final year of contracts and may have packed their final bag in Seattle.
3. There are a number of â€œcoreâ€ players, like David Hawthorne, Ben Obomanu, and Mike Williams who signed extensions in-season and will be here next year. Yet, there are very few superstars. There are no pro bowlers. No Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, or Shaun Alexander that I shared a locker room with in the past. No Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison or Edgerrin James that I was with in Indy. I am talking star power, guys a cut above the rest, special talents that elevate a locker room and its sense of confidence and belief.
4. There was not a sense of accomplishment, but much more a sentiment of unfinished business. In talking with a few of the veteran players, there was a real sense of missed opportunity. Matt Hasselbeckâ€™s postgame comments about â€œnot being deservingâ€ and â€œhow close we were to something specialâ€ seemed to be echoed by other veterans. Missed assignments, dropped passes and interceptions, a lack of consistent blitzing and pressure, were very much at the forefront of playerâ€™s thoughts and frustrations. Personally, I found that very refreshing, and speaks to the accountability and competitiveness constantly preached at the VMAC.
5. Lastly, some of the busiest men at the VMAC this season were the guys in the equipment room. They were constantly cleaning out lockers and putting up new nameplates, and that work this year built a foundation for whatâ€™s to come, at least in 2011. This organization had a very clear plan to evaluate all their personnel, and nearly every guy cut or on the street as well. All the while, maintaining as much contractual flexibility with their roster as possible. The end result: as soon as the new collective bargaining agreement is put in place, the Seahawks should be at the front of the line with money to spend and opportunity to take advantage of.