One of the consequences of the pandemic for many is an abrupt re-jiggering of timelines, because the future is no longer what it was purported to be: Certain, and depending on age, long-term.
Threats are sudden, existential and many. My favorite retort to such thinking was rolled out years ago by Seattle author and former Post-Intelligencer writer and copy editor Tom Robbins in his masterpiece, Still Life With Woodpecker.
“It’s never too late,” he wrote, “to have a happy childhood.”
The wisdom came to mind when I read what Seahawks general manager John Schneider told Mike Silver of NFL.com in the aftermath of the Rams’ swap of Jared Goff to Detroit for Matt Stafford, which also cost LA two first-round picks and a third-rounder, in order to take on his massive contract.
The deal’s boldness was startling, because it meant that not only were the Rams committed to winninginthenextminute, the picks surrendered meant that as of right now, LA will not have used its own first-rounder to draft a player from 2016 until 2024.
In sports, that’s the ultimate don’t-buy-green-bananas statement.
A speculative case can be made that with nearly all franchise owners over 50, and some in their 70s, including 73-year-old Stan Kroenke — he owns the Rams and teams in five other pro sports leagues, as well as the $5 billion SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles — COVID-19 and related calamities have accelerated the urge to get stuff done now.
The economic assumptions underlying sports for the past century — a stable, competent federal government, increases in the number of international players and markets, a growing U.S. middle class that produces increases in attendance and TV revenues — are abruptly and drastically in play. The exit of Donald Trump from the White House was a hopeful sign, but we’re only at the beginning of understanding the long-term consequences of the damage.
As the structural changes pertain to the NFL, presuming Super Bowl LV comes off as planned Sunday, it appears to have pulled off a complete season in a pandemic. But the remarkable feat of health preservation took considerable effort, resources and sacrifice, and the wide distribution of vaccines remains a slow work in progress. Even Commissioner Roger Goodell lamented Thursday he doesn’t know what 2021 will look like.
So roster tumult at the top will have another year. Maybe more.
“I think we may see this every year now,” Schneider said of the greater urgency to win. “It’s more two-to-three-year windows than five-year windows. I think social media plays a role, too. There’s just a whole other element. Either someone’s a ‘great head coach,’ or ‘He sucks.’ It’s, ‘This guy’s an amazing quarterback,’ or ‘He’s terrible.’ There doesn’t seem to be much balance.
“There’s a lot less patience than there used to be, so I think we’ll see more people moving around.”
The reference to movement was regarding the large number of quarterbacks who have been speculated to be in different places by next season: DeShaun Watson, Jameis Winston, Mitch Trubisky, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Cam Newton, Jimmy Garappolo, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock, Alex Smith . . . while Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are in various stages of twilight.
Even Aaron Rodgers, 37, who is destined to be anointed the 2020 MVP Saturday, threw in with his own unprompted speculation that he had “an uncertain future” after losing the NFC Championship.
The latest trigger event in the pending chaos was the successful move of Tom Brady from New England to Tampa Bay, a one-off that means more than an incredible 10th Super Bowl appearance for Brady in his 21-year career.
It means that teams see quarterbacks as more interchangeable than was customarily believed. Sure, Brady is the GOAT, but at this stage of his career, he’s merely good. But he was good enough to get a team to the Super Bowl that hadn’t won a playoff game in 12 seasons and was 7-9 in 2019.
His transition also had to slog through the absence of in-person summer drills and training camp, then no preseason, and a 7-5 start to the regular season.
It’s one of the more preposterous single-season personnel feats in history. Credit for some of it goes to coach Bucs coach Bruce Arians, not so much for his Sunday gameworks but for his catchy slogan that has a become an NFL meme:
“No risk it, no biscuit.”
Arians and his Super Bowl counterpart, Andy Reid, are coaching swashbucklers of the first order. Doesn’t mean they’re always right, doesn’t guarantee long-term success. But they’re here at the pinnacle now.
More than ever, now counts.
As for the Seahawks, an interview this week with Russell Wilson on a Super Bowl hype show on the NFL Network illustrated the league-wide increase in sense of urgency, particularly after his conversations with new offensive coordinator, Shane Waldron.
“Shane and I, we’ve been talking this offseason about just really being able to go after it and not be timid about it,” Wilson said. “Just really use all of our players in all different facets, all different ways, really causing havoc for the defense as much as possible.”
After the Seahawks offense’s second-half fade that culminated in the debacle of a first-round playoff loss to the Rams, Wilson sounds eager to help Pete Carroll nudge the head coach away from his risk-averse notions, and toward what Arians and Reid hope to showcase Sunday.
Carroll probably had a happy childhood. There’s no rule against a second one.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Bucs 23. Andy remains dandy, even if Bruce has Zeus.
I wish the Mariners had that sense of urgency.
I think they thought they had in the Bavasi and even the Jack Z years. Dipoto was dealt a horrible hand and chose to fold and get a new hand. Can’t blame him!
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The Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals would never step back. The Dodgers now have three Cy Young winners in their rotation, and none of them are their best starting pitcher. They also have two MVP’s in their outfield.
Chris Taylor played for both, but won a World Series with only one.
You are a generous man.
Patience grasshopper, it’s only been a measly 20 years since their last playoff appearance and 43 years without a single W.S. appearance.
I still celebrate the 1966 champions, Seattle Angels.
A.K.A. The Seattle Rainiers.
I gather the celebration is automatically socially distant.
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They did when they went out and got Cano, Cruz, Iwakuma and Seth Smith. The expensive free agent route only works for the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers. I don’t blame Dipoto for blowing up the ream.
Seth Smith….Eli’s backup.
The 2034 AL West champions.
What’s your hurry? It took 100 years before a pandemic returned.
The Old GOAT will manage a win because the Bucs D will rise to the occasion.
A sports analyst was on the radio the other day and he had interviewed Brady a few years ago. He mentioned that Brady is 100% committed to his craft 365 days a year – he doesn’t take time off. Brady said he watches film every day, often 4-5 hours straight. He has moved out this SB so he is away from his family for the 12 days leading up to the SB. As a result, he feels well prepared to recognize defenses before the snap, giving him an edge. So this SB I will be watching Brady closely before the snap, watching him and listening for pre-snap adjustments.
No question if his body holds up he will be playing another 2-3 years.
True. Brady’s intensity and comprehension are legendary. That’s why he can bark so harshly at his teammates. They know he knows.
It’s mostly on the Bucs’ D, which is good, but not quite good enough.
In retrospect….great call coug73. Could you recommend lottery numbers for me?
There have been other swashbucklers in the NFL that never quite got over the hump – Air Coryell comes to mind – but your point is, well, on point. It’s more often that the ones who guard against bad things (instead of attempt good things) fail in today’s NFL. I always remember that PC comes from the Bud Grant tree, and irrespective of the similarities between RW and Fran Tarkenton/Joe Kapp, both, when presented a daunting situation, were prone to try to do the same thing, only harder. No adjustment. In a smaller league, that put the Vikings into several (but never winning) Super Bowls. Now, not so much, I think. I could be wrong, of course – I am a lot.
Thank you for responding to a football column with a football comment instead of baseball.
Grant and Carroll won a lot of games their way. But Grant didn’t coach in the era of free agency, when roster turnover is relentless because of salary cap restraints. The game is turning in favor of the pass partly because the college game doesn’t often teach quality run blocking.
Great that you referred to Air Coryell and I am fond of reminding people that Mr. Don Coryell is affiliated with not just Air Coryell, but the eventual widespread use of the I Formation. He played halfback at the UW and coached at Wenatchee Valley College, where at least some of the credit comes from.
He also helped John Madden get his coaching start.
The Rams sacrificed their future for today by mortgaging draft picks and 26 year old Jared Goff for 32 year old Matthew Stafford. That strategy worked in 2018 when they signed Ndamukong Suh and acquired Brandin Cooks and Marcus Peters. That led the club to a Super Bowl appearance but they seemed to be going down the same road the Seahawks Super Bowl XL team slowly went on.
Does a young, hungry Deshaun Watson who wants to go to the playoffs give Pete and John pause? Especially when Wilson is entering his 30s and Houston has shown they will do business with the Seahawks? Can the Hawks afford to improve via the draft alone when the NFC West is actively wheeling and dealing? Or wait until mid season until they decide to make a move? Granted a full training camp will probably work wonders for Adams and Dunlap’s performance but the team seems to still be a few players short and with limited draft picks and cap space and a new OC right now I’m not seeing more improvement. More like holding steady or even maybe a step back.
Pete and John do not pause. RW is the Seahawks’ QB now and for years to come. He is the face of the franchise. He is an elite QB, and better than Watson.
He also costs $35 million in a year when the cap strinks. Just sayin’ . . .
Every team has a big money guy or two.
The current Seahawks of note who are FA’s are Shaq Griffin, Mayowa, Simmons, Ford, Wright, Hollister, Moore, Smith and Pocic. Adams and Dunlap are in the last year of their deals. When Wilson eats up so much of the payroll something has to give. I would be surprised if Wilson is traded and he’s better than Watson but by how much? And if Watson is almost as good and let’s you bring in needed players to get to the SB it’s something to think about. If the Rams end up returning to it that thought gets entertained even more. And I really don’t like how the past couple seasons Wilson seems to lose momentum the last couple months of the season and then brings that lack of spark into the playoffs. Maybe it’s the OC. Maybe it’s his supporting cast. Or maybe….it’s him. ( Please don’t hate me everyone. I’m having a John Lennon “Just imagine” moment. )
The absences of draft picks and cap room will cause some painful reckonings.
Coaches come and go, some are great, while others don’t amount to much – but as long as we have sports reporting in Seattle you know Art will never lose his touch!
I still miss my PI – thanks for staying with it Art.
Well, thank you, Kevin. I defer to your poetic touch.
Fascinating. What a world of flux we live in. It’s filtered down to the NFL. We’ll see which of the musical chair QB’s wind up starters and which well paid backups. Given the potential switches it’s hard right now to evaluate the strength of opponents in the coming season. Potential injuries and Covid-19 add to the uncertainty. Regarding the Super Bowl, aren’t we due for an overtime game?
If I were a gambler, I wouldn’t bet a dime on the NFL in ’21 until about Christmas week.
No OT, please. The work day is long enough for me.
I don’t know, Art. I do not like Brady or Arians, but how do you go against the greatest of all time on this stage? That Buc’s D is looking mighty tough too. I hate my prediction because I really like Mahomes. TB 26- KC 24
Because the greatest is 43 and mostly immobile, I’m staying on red.