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Grip on Sports: Playing catch up so we don’t get kicked to the curb

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, second from right, rushes for a touchdown as Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner (54) and Earl Thomas (29) look on in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, second from right, rushes for a touchdown as Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner (54) and Earl Thomas (29) look on in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Where were we? Oh yeah, wondering why athletes who are compensated well need to use a seeming lack of respect as motivation. Or as a way to jump ship. Read on.

••••••••••

• We took Christmas off. Spent it with family. All day. Didn’t leave the house or, and we’re sure this will surprise you, watch a single sporting event on the TV.

So we are playing catch up a bit. From Sunday actually, because other than a bit of surprise over LeBron James not getting a call or two at the end of the Warriors’ game yesterday, nothing much happened, right?

We are catching up with the Seahawks and their win over the Cowboys. And we are catching up with Earl Thomas and his loss of face afterward.

Let’s deal with the latter one first.

When it comes to financial items among professional athletes, we thought we had seen it all. There is Player A upset because Player B’s contract is bigger. Or Player C holding out because Player D had his contract extended a week earlier. And on and on.

But being upset about a contract not being extended and selling yourself in an opponent’s locker room is a new one. And over the top.

We’ll take Earl Thomas’ words for it, however. The Seahawks free safety explained – rationalized? – his actions following the Hawks’ win at Dallas as just a reminder that someday, when he’s on the downside of his career, he would love to become a ceremonial player for his childhood team.

You know, after the Seahawks finally “kicks me to the curb.” Because that’s what the Cowboys want, Seattle hand-me-downs.

As negotiating tactics go, whether it is with the Seahawks or Dallas, this one doesn’t seem too bright.

• For some reason the Seahawks felt they were being doubted heading into Sunday’s game. Probably because they were.

“We had a lot of people doubting us, a lot of people sleeping on us, and we love it,’’ Bobby Wagner told the Times’ Bob Condotta after the 21-12 win. “We love to silence the doubters.’’

And that’s what motivates you to play like you should have been playing all season? “Doubters?”

You know why there were – and still are, if you are talking about playoff success – doubters, don’t you? Because you were 8-6 going into the game. You had lost to the Titans, the Redskins and the Falcons. Not to mention being blown out 42-7 the week before – at home.

Doubters don’t exist when you win games 42-7. They exist because you lost by that margin to the Rams. Heck, you hardly showed up.

But that’s fine. If you need some perceived lack of respect to play like you should play, then so be it. No one respects you. No one thinks you will beat the awesome Cardinals. No one thinks you will make the playoffs.

Wait, that last one is true. See, you don’t control your destiny anymore. You will be relying on a Carolina team that has already clinched the postseason winning against an Atlanta team that hasn’t. In Atlanta.

Respectfully, we don’t believe that will happen.

•••

WSU: The Cougars have just a couple days left before their Holiday Bowl matchup with a Big Ten team that doesn’t seem to earn much in the way of respect. Does that sound familiar? Theo Lawson doesn’t really delve into that much in this story today, because it is one of friendship and respect. … Jim Allen, who is writing about Michigan State, does cover it some. … Washington State made a San Diego road trip on Christmas and photographer Tyler Tjomsland tagged along for this photo report. …Theo has some interviews with members of the coaching staff posted on our WSU Football Page. … There are stories from the Spartans’ side of things, one from MLive which includes this quote: “Luke Falk is a great quarterback, but he makes his mistakes when he’s forced out of the pocket and has to make moves on the run, throw the ball down field on the run,” Michigan State senior linebacker Chris Frey said. Wonder if Falk will use it as motivation? Sounds like a lack of respect.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, we are in the midst of bowl season, sure, but basketball is rolling as well. USC picked up a Diamond Head Classic title last night in Hawaii. … Arizona State and Arizona will kick off Pac-12 play Saturday, both sporting rankings. … On the football field, Utah plays today against West Virginia, needing a win to avoid a losing season. … UCLA has its bowl game tonight, facing Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl, probably without quarterback Josh Rosen. … Washington’s bowl game comes later, and the Huskies need the time to prepare for Penn State. … Stanford plays Thursday night in the Alamo Bowl, basically at the same time as WSU. … USC plays in Dallas next week. … Colorado may be getting a linebacker back.

Gonzaga: The loss to San Diego State not only hurt Gonzaga’s RPI, it also dropped them eight spots in the polls. Jim Meehan has the story. … Jill Barta was the WCC player of the week again. … Jim Allen has a piece on a member of the Zags’ athletic support staff that makes a difference.

Seahawks: We’re sure you’ve read enough about the win over Dallas. Now comes Arizona, with a playoff berth on the line. … The NFL got smart and moved the Falcons’ game with Carolina to the late start as well, so both NFC-playoff-berth deciding games begin at the same time. … Russell Wilson made one big play Sunday.

•••       

• It’s nice to get back in the groove. It will be a busy week. Not only are their bowl games, but most conference basketball schedules kick off this week. There will be overlap. Until later … 

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