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RSVP This, Pal + I Finally Lose It Over the Poison Pill Issue

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At least there's some amusement to be had in the snarky-getting-snarkier extended story of Steve Hutchinson's departure from the Seahawks. In an article by Jim Corbett of USA Today about the higher visibility of NFL offensive guards, there's a sequence about what transpired earlier this year when Hutchinson and Coach Holmgren happened to be at the same wedding.

"I put my hand out to shake Mike's hand at the wedding, and he went right by me and didn't even look at me," Hutchinson says at the conclusion of a recent Vikings training camp practice. "He went up to my wife, Landyn, and gave her a hug. He was joking around."

He was and he wasn't. Holmgren was still steamed by everything that shouldn't have transpired before resulting in Hutchinson's departure after five productive years...

"Steve came out for a wedding for our head equipment guy, Art Kennedy," Holmgren says. "He came up to shake my hand, and I wouldn't talk to him. I went and hugged his wife."...

"By the end of the evening, we sat down and talked," Holmgren said. "I wish him the best. It's just too bad he's not with us. I miss him."

Not to beat the dead horse into some sort of meat by-product, but I felt the whole transition-tag-versus-franchise-tag could use some revisiting:

Seahawks President Tim Ruskell and vice president of football administration Mike Reinfeldt gambled $592,000, the savings between the transition and franchise tag, that no team would offer to pay nearly $7 million a year on a guard. They gambled wrong... In Hutchinson's mind, Seattle had blown its chance...

"When it came down to it last February, I was actually driving around looking for property in Seattle, looking for lots to build a house, thinking that if they don't get a deal done, I'm at least getting franchised and going to be there for another six, seven years when they hammer out a long-term deal."...

"It's a sore subject on both sides," Hutchinson says. "I'm upset because I left a brotherhood, some guys and coaches I spent five years with.

"I still think Mike's chapped about it and hasn't moved on. And I'm upset like that, too. There's some personnel decisions made there I didn't agree with.

Yeah. "Chapped" is one way to put it. I have a few others as well, but my mom reads this site.

If nothing else, this should remind you what they all say happens when you assume -- you make an... you... well, you just screw everything up, that's what you do.

I myself am "chapped" at both parties. If all we were talking about was a difference of less than $600K, then yeah -- why couldn't the Hawks franchise Hutchinson? What're we saving for?

If you have your Alexander deal worked out -- which in retrospect we could argue was probably a fait accompli much earlier than many thought -- would it kill you to pick up the phone, call Hutchinson and say, "Look, we want to work something out. Can we transition you, or do you insist on a franchise tag?" Am I being totally naive in questioning whether this could have been averted with an honest convo before the tags were handed out? Tell me if I am.

But the poison pill thing... please. Hutch's agent (I don't entirely blame Hutch himself for this) clearly went out of his way to exploit this loophole, rather than get on the phone to any member of Seahawks management at any time during the previous year.

Planting landmines in the deal, the way Tom Condon did, has to render the whole point of the transition tag utterly worthless. Sticking antic clauses in there, like they were temporary tattoos stuffed into a Cracker Jack box, has to sap all the good faith from the negotiation process. I realize sports agents don't get where they are by remembering their Boy Scout oaths, but come on.

But even then -- how could this not have been talked over before any of it transpired? Don't you people have phones? Or e-mail? Or Morse code? Can nobody spring for a set of naval flags? It's just lame, y'know? It's why the sports business is so unappealing. When treachery trumps loyalty -- on both sides -- for the sake of $600,000. It's terrible.

This is the reason why strapping young boys get discouraged from taking part in athletics, and wind up doing something horrible with their lives, like ballet dancing, or New Age music, or selling vests made from hemp or whole grain wheat, or whatever.

(I don't have the exact figures in front of me right at this moment, but I think that's what they do.)