Hello?! You play to win the game!

Dec 31, 2011, 7:38 AM | Updated: 10:37 am

As the Seahawks head into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, some see it as meaningless now that they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs.

Go into a game in which the main focus is NOT a victory? Cue former N.Y. Jets head coach Herm Edwards: “Hello?! You play to win the game!”

Of course you do.

Yet I’ve heard a lot of people out there questioning whether the focus should be on winning the game. The Hawks can gain an improved draft order by losing and take the opportunity to look at some backups such as 3rd-string quarterback Josh Portis.

I haven’t played the game in over 15 years but as I’ve stated in earlier articles, I have yet to take the “player lobotomy.” I can only respond in one way and that’s to entirely agree with Herm. I don’t ever remember going into a game with any other thought than this: Win every battle, every play, every series, every quarter and every game. You don’t want to root for a team that approaches it any other way.

Coaches and players are programmed only one way – to win.

The coaches’ perspective: At some point down the road, Pete Carroll and his staff will be evaluated on their winning percentage.

The Seahawks are at 7-8 going into Sunday’s game, and getting to .500 is a huge milestone in any coach’s or owner’s eyes. Every win means you’re a few percentage points better, and when it’s time to re-up that contract, a loss against Arizona in a meaningless game at the end of the season could in fact mean everything.

It could mean the difference in dollars on your contract or it could mean that you stay put in a city that you’ve lived in for three or four years. A loss could mean looking for a new job, uprooting your family, selling your home and all the hassles that go along with moving to a new city and starting over. Anyone who has had to move or switch jobs knows what a pain that is. You have to sell your house, call the movers, disconnect your internet, call the cable guy, stop the paper and worry about your furniture getting scratched in the move. It sucks. Not to mention starting over with a whole new team, new players and new coaches.

THAT’S why Herm Edwards uttered those words.

The player’s perspective: As a player, you’re programmed to win. You’re not just conditioned to win every game. You’re programmed to win every series, every play and every last little battle that takes place between snap and whistle. Your job is on the line every down of every game and each step you take is captured on film.

That film is scrutinized by coaches and scouts from all 32 teams in the league. It’s your body of work that is being analyzed. It’s who you are as a player. It’s your livelihood.

On the “micro-level” it’s the steps you take and the decisions you make. Are you staying low, keeping your legs moving, using your hands properly?

On the “macro-level” it’s your effort. Are you playing hard on every play? Are you the type of player who plays as hard in the 1st quarter of a meaningless game as you would in the 4th quarter of a playoff game?

That’s how a player thinks.

To quote another famous coach – Chuck Knox: “Anyone who doesn’t understand that is foolish.”

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Hello?! You play to win the game!