Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Most Difficult Path

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

--Ambrose Redmoon

Mike Holmgren is the head coach of the Seahawks. I have watched and listened to him for 8-9 years now, a tenure that seemed to have just started yesterday with much anticipation.

Coach Holmgren is not generally regarded as a great man in the sense that the men of history are judged. He is not, to my knowledge, a household name anywhere but Seattle--and probably not here in Seattle, either. Yet despite these things, his reluctance to rely on the running game and his wacky "what were you thinking" 3rd and short play calling, he inspires me and makes me feel "good."

I am fortunate enough to be able to tap into the inner circle of Seahawks information overload via a blog written by a enthusiastic newspaper journalist from Tacoma. He records and provides, for people like me, via his blog, the press conferences with Mike Holmgren in their entirety. Unedited and uncut.

We are now at the end of the regular season and into the second round of the playoffs. The Seahawks are doomed every game they play by the pundits and know-it-alls and ESPNs of the world, but somehow, they find a way to win. The team has been described as underperformers, as inconsistent, and as just plain bad. Yes, if you do not know the circumstances that have faced them this year,and you compare them to the 2005 team that rode an astonishing 11 game win streak into the Super Bowl, then you might also just deem them as a poor football team in 2006.

However, whether you care about football or not doesn't matter if you take a moment to understand what it takes for a pro football team to win every week, or even just half of their games. If you understand a bit of what it takes to have 11 celebrity-like, well-paid athletes concert their physical prowess with schematics and technique, all while staying healthy and travelling and learning in a classroom a couple days a week, you would see how, with the cataclysmic events of this season, its actually more impressive where the Seahawks are this year -- regardless of how they finish. And they do it in large part because of the atmosphere that Mike Holmgren has established and the people who he has helped put in place to surround them. He inspires these men -- men who could be just like the other loud-mouths we see on the TV all the time -- to play beyond their ego for the benefit of something bigger than themselves. We never see anything in the media about the Seahawks having locker-room issues. We never hear players on the Seahawks complaining they don't get the ball enough.

By the end of this year I have come to believe that Holmgren is a wise, loyal-to-a-fault man who truly believes in what he does. And although he will never be looked at as anything but a football coach by anyone but a few of us who wish to believe all men, in any profession or belief, have the capability to be great, he has made an impact on me as a person. He has inspired me because he is a man who sees that, in his own words, "its too bad we are often judged by where we end up, rather than by our journey."

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