I will admit when I first heard that Percy Harvin was traded to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick, I was as surprised as anyone.
I’m sure I had the same reaction to the trade as many others: How can you trade that kind of explosive talent? How will the Seahawks stretch the field without Harvin’s speed?
But after reading about some of the issues that Harvin had with teammates, most notable were altercations with former Hawk Golden Tate (black eye) and current Hawk Doug Baldwin (cut on chin), I can understand the move better…and can also relate to it on a personal level.
Back in Michigan, many years ago, I was looking for a softball team to play on. I had my fill of playing on Class A and B teams, the schedule just demanded too much of my time and was looking for a team that I could just play for fun but still feed my competitive spirit.
We were at a party at a friends house and one of the guests there was the player coach of a team and on the look out for talent to help his team. Me, after having a few beers, began bragging on my talents and the coach took me up on it…figuring if I could play as half as well as I said I could, he’d fill a need.
Here’s the thing: While I did brag upon myself a bit (OK, a lot), I backed it up. I loved the game, loved to practice and just loved everything about it. From putting the glove in your face and taking a deep breath of that leather smell to tracking down a fly ball against a crystal clear blue Michigan sky. I showed up to practice and was always at least at the field 30-45 minutes before game time.
There was another player on the team…we’ll call him Bob. Bob was a talented player but you never knew what you were going to get from him or even if he was going to show up on game day. Quite often, he would stroll in about 5 minutes before the game and expect to be great.
But it was also his sense of entitlement that rubbed a lot of his teammates the wrong way. Bob expected to be playing left-center field and batting third. Imagine his surprise to find me in his place when he showed up a few minutes before the first pitch.
Predictably, he threw a fit and sulked while being on the bench and peppering the coach to put him in the game.
Long story short, Bob played only in a few more games before the coach cut him loose. We went on to play some very good softball and just missed the playoffs my first year and went on to win it all the second.
The point to all this is that Bob had been with this team for a long time and they never finished above .500. And when it came to crunch time, he didn’t come through because he didn’t practice…in short, his teammates couldn’t count on him.
Harvin’s teammates, both in Minnesota and here in Seattle, couldn’t count on him. All players have to have some selfishness in wanting the ball in crucial moments of the game. But great teammates will support and do their jobs without question if someone else gets the call.