|We're off to Seattle, by George|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
Being Jeff George's No. 1 fan is perhaps the most emotionally draining job in sports.
A.C. Cowlings has it easier than me ... at least A.C. gets to play a lot of golf, hang out with Playboy models and assist in the hunt for the real bimbos.
Being Jeff George's No. 1 fans means I now have a new favorite NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, my sixth new favorite team since the Indianapolis Colts plucked George with first pick of the 1990 draft.
See, that's the thing about falling in love with George's right arm, the most gifted football-launcher never to sniff a Super Bowl ... you never know where it's going to lead you.
I never much liked Mike Holmgren and the Seahawks -- horribly drab uniforms -- until Tuesday afternoon, when they made George the eighth quarterback to sport a Seattle jersey in the past five months. George is following in the footsteps of immortals such as Ryan Van Dyke, Ryan Leaf, 53-year-old Mark Rypien and Dave Dickenson.
And we all know George can throw the football. Why do you think I've been in love with his right arm all these years? I've loved his arm ever since we both played in the Indianapolis Warren Township little league. As a fifth and sixth grader, George was the star of the Tomahawks, a traveling all-star team that literally ran a pro-style, multiple-formation offense to take advantage of George's NFL-quality arm. I'm not kidding. As a grade-schooler, George threw a better ball than the Detmers do today.
By the time we reached high school, it was a forgone conclusion that George would not only play in the NFL, but that he would soon be the league's No. 1 overall pick and a future Hall of Famer. That is, if he didn't pitch or play short in the majors. The kid could do magic tricks with a ball and his right arm.
Nope. If George has a fatal fault as a football competitor, it's that the game (and life) came too easy for him at the high school and college levels, and that prevented him from learning how to truly compete. At the NFL level, champions reveal themselves in times of adversity. George experienced little adversity while growing up. He had the ideal home life and the ideal athletic experience. He's not some kid who pulled himself out of the ghetto or off a farm or away from a coal-mining shaft by playing sports and earning a scholarship. He's not some kid who overcame an absentee father and a gang-infested neighborhood. He didn't walk on at some university and prove to everybody that he should've been a scholarship player.
You ever notice how many NFL players have hard-luck stories? Life's hard knocks prepare you for football's hard knocks.
I hope Jeff George understands all of this now. He's dealt with some real adversity the past year. The entire National Football League told him to get lost, we don't want or need you. It was a humbling experience, the kind of experience that should have his competitive juices boiling and his football focus at an unprecedented level.
As with every team Jeff George has played for, the Seahawks are now my pick to win the Super Bowl. I know they're 2-5, and I know Holmgren has said Hasselbeck is Seattle's starting quarterback. But just wait until Holmgren and Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson and Walter Jones and the other Seahawks fall in love with George's right arm. It's a love that will last a lifetime, or until the coach is fired, whichever comes first.
Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.