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Grip on Sports: There’s no rest as NFL’s top dog

Seahawks appeared close to signing Jared Allen, right, but couldn’t offer enough money. (Associated Press)
Seahawks appeared close to signing Jared Allen, right, but couldn’t offer enough money. (Associated Press)

Wednesday: For the longest time I was a big fan of the NFL’s self-imposed parity. But that was then. Now it just seems wrong.

It took the Seahawks decades to ascend to the top. Their reward? It seems the NFL’s free-agency rules may knock them off the summit within a season.

It’s not just the players they’ve lost, though, from Golden Tate to Red Bryant, color the Hawks bruised by the defections. It is also the way the rules make it tough for Seattle to find replacements.

Yes, the Hawks are lucky. Some of their best players were low-round draft picks that don’t cost all that much right now. That circumstance helped build this year’s Super Bowl-winning team. But management knows the bill for those players will come due in the not-so-distant future, so it has been putting money away to pay for them. That’s fiscally sound and prudent for long-term success. But it also means offers to current free agents, guys who could help next season, guys like Jared Allen, have to be a bit on the low-ball side.

The hope seems to be the chance to play on a winner, to play for the NFL’s  most popular coach, Pete Carroll, would trump financial concerns. In some cases it has. But the shelf life of NFL players being what it is, money is the ace of trump. Nothing beats it. That’s understandable. But it just doesn’t seem right when you’re atop the mountain, the sweat of the climb drying on your brow. There should be some time to enjoy it, right? And a better opportunity to stay there.

Thursday: If we were down South, today would be a holiday of sorts. We’re not, so it isn’t.

College football is important around here. It just isn’t important. Yes, fans root for their Cougars or Eagles or Vandals or whatever, but they don’t live, breath or die with them. This isn’t the South. Which makes today’s first day of spring football in Pullman an occasion but not a holiday.

In Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, places like that, the beginning of spring football moves all other news to the Style section. And spring games? Don’t even try to comprehend 70,000 or 80,000 folks gathered in 80-degree weather to watch a scrimmage for goodness sakes. You can admire their devotion, sure, but not their sanity.

Spring football may be important for fall’s success – at least coaches will tell you it is – but it is just practice after all. And not even practice that leads up to a game. There are a lot of fundamentals. There are a lot of repetitions. And there are a lot of players trying new and sometimes odd positions.

You might see a wide receiver spend a couple days at safety – and then move back to offense. You might see a defensive lineman snapping the ball for an hour or so – then never see it again. And you might see a walk-on punter whiff on an attempt – then never return to the field.

I’ve seen all those things in the years I’ve observed spring football so nothing that happens on the fields in Pullman over the next few weeks would surprise me. Unless it was watching the quarterbacks practicing taking a knee.

OK, that wasn’t nice. Funny maybe, but not nice.

We promise not to take any more gratuitous shots about it. It’s spring, after all. It’s time to turn the page.

Friday: Over the years Mike Leach’s senior quarterbacks have had incredibly proficient seasons. Will the same thing happen to Connor Halliday?

As I read Jacob Thorpe’s  story on the first day of spring practice at WSU, I wondered if Halliday will follow in the footsteps of Leach’s Texas Tech guys. If he stays healthy, yes. Not just yes, but heck yes.

The Cougars’ receiving corps is really good – watch out for Vince Mayle this year, he could be a beast – and Halliday understands the offense as well as anyone can. All the passing records at WSU? They should be rewritten this fall.