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Saturday, October 1, 2022

There is little room for payback in the National Football League

Over time, Russell Wilson outgrown the Seattle Seahawks. Together, they won the 2013 Super Bowl, Wilson’s second in the National Football League. Wilson continued to develop as a quarterback, but the Legion of Boom defence of the Seahawks progressively eroded and the organisation became less successful but more stubborn and desperate.

It was identical to Striesand’s “A Star Is Born,” except that Marshawn Lynch pummelling the opposition instead of “Evergreen.”

Wilson eventually secured the deal he craved after many seasons of whispered disappointment. Wilson, who currently leads the Denver Broncos, will play the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night in Seattle. Because the clichés of grindhouse kung fu movies — or classic Hollywood romances, for that matter — are vastly more interesting than the muddy reality of NFL roster management, these games are often billed as “revenge” games.

Prior to selling a substantial dowry of draught selections and players for Wilson, the Broncos spent the six seasons after Peyton Manning’s retirement swiping right on any quarterback whose dating profile included the words “tall, mature, and ready to let the defence take the lead.” Wilson, 33, who reportedly signed a five-year, $243 million deal last week, exemplifies the Broncos’ determination to broaden their horizons and live a bit.

In comparison, the Seahawks are still in the ice-cream-from-the-carton phase of their separation. Former Jets quarterback Geno Smith is their interim starting quarterback in a relationship best characterised as one of mutual desperation and pity.

The AFC’s Wilson’s Broncos, who are real Super Bowl hopefuls, are 6.5-point favourites against the NFC’s Seahawks, who are predicted to be one of the league’s worst teams. Under the circumstances, compassion may be more appropriate than revenge.

Week 1 of the NFL season may include two more quarterback “revenge” games. In the previous past, good quarterbacks seldom transferred clubs, regardless of how dissatisfied both sides were with the arrangement. Such encounters are becoming more frequent.

Consider Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Early in his career, Flacco, like Wilson, guided a team stocked with defensive players to a Super Bowl triumph. In contrast to Wilson, Flacco’s progress stalled: Ravens football in the middle of the 2010s resembled an unending series of 53-yard field goal tries.

Flacco remained the starting quarterback for the Ravens until 2018, when Lamar Jackson came and showed them how to have fun again.

Flacco and the Ravens have one of the best employer-employee relationships of late-stage capitalism. Additionally, Flacco is four seasons gone from the Ravens. After a brief run as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, he became the Jets’ backup quarterback. Flacco was still set to start Sunday’s season opener against the Ravens at the time of publishing, but Jets Coach Robert Saleh revealed on Monday that second-year quarterback Zach Wilson may return from his preseason knee injury earlier than expected.

If vengeance is best when served cold, then Flacco’s must be doused with liquid nitrogen.

When questioned about meeting the Ravens in mid-August, Flacco, 37, dismissed any potential vengeance element, stating, “I’ll try to make sure it’s not the biggest issue.” Most Jets and Ravens supporters concur.

Baker Mayfield is permitted to feel otherwise. Mayfield was coming off a career season in which he guided the Cleveland Browns to their first postseason berth since 2002. He was on the verge of receiving the second nine-figure deal awarded to all successful young quarterbacks. Mayfield’s 2021 season was interrupted by a shoulder injury, and the Browns suddenly entered the bidding battle for Deshaun Watson’s services in March.

The Cleveland Browns purchased Watson’s rights from the Houston Texans in exchange for three first-round selections and change and signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. Watson was accused of sexual assault in 24 cases at the time. Meanwhile, Mayfield awaited a trade. Then waited. Mayfield remained with the Browns throughout free agency, while quarterbacks like as Matt Ryan (who was also spurned by his team’s pursuit of Watson) gained new starting roles. They hung on to him until the draught, when quarterback-needy clubs discovered inexpensive alternatives.

In anticipation of beginning the season with former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold as quarterback, the Carolina Panthers acquired Mayfield in early July in exchange for a conditional mid-round draught selection in 2024. The Browns and Panthers even agreed to share Mayfield’s 2022 salary as though they were breaking up after a bad date.

Mayfield was subsequently forced to compete with Darnold for the starting quarterback position, indicating that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is as ambivalent as everyone else about the new scenario.

Mayfield, who is more quotable than Wilson or Flacco, engaged in a media spat last week with NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund about how colourfully he expressed his desire to destroy his old club. In addition, he sold “off the leash” T-shirts honouring Sunday’s matchup, implying that he was tied to his previous team’s offensive.

Mayfield’s career in Cleveland was hampered by media controversies and a penchant for “distractions,” but he has emerged as the most likeable figure in his off-season tale. And with journeyman backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett starting for the Browns in place of the suspended Watson, Mayfield wins some measure of payback merely by turning up.

Aside from T-shirts and semantics, quarterback vengeance stories tend to be fabricated. When encountering former teammates and coaches as opponents for the first time, or when relegated to the other team’s locker room at a familiar stadium, players generally experience a complex mix of bittersweet feelings.

On the other hand, you may find enraged supporters on any sub-Reddit or at any corner bar who see a quarterback’s departure as treason or betrayal, either on the part of the player or the franchise. Particularly, Seahawks supporters may feel somewhat spurned by Wilson and hungry for vengeance.

Wilson will be in the limelight regardless of the outcome in Week 1, while the Seahawks will wear sweats on the sofa until they find his successor. Ultimately, living well is the best retribution.

 

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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