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The Volatile Veteran

''Any competitor plays this game looking for respect, and that's all we're looking for . . . for respect,'' he started. ''Right now, we don't feel like we're getting that respect and we're fighting for the A.F.C. championship, and that's crazy to me. I almost feel like Mike Tyson felt the other day.

''He's the former heavyweight champion of the world, and they were saying Lennox Lewis, how good he is. Mike is just watching all this like we're watching Pittsburgh and these other two teams. And it's like, 'What about us?'

''What did Mike do? He snapped. The only difference is, we're not going to do it on the podium. We're going to do it on the field.'' --Lawyer Milloy, January of 2002

Are young fans prejudiced towards older players? I know in the past I have been. I have underestimated their talent, excused them as passing, not likely to contribute much past this season, and that latter point bears some practical truth. What if Milloy excels this season? Will he contribute to the Seahawks next contender?

Well, right off, let's talk about football itself. This might be the year of the Seahawks next contender. This FO has created some pessimism with its disorderly churn, but even if it seems unlikely, there is no sure way to prove Seattle can not compete this season. Them's the facts of football.

I have both underestimated the ability of older players and overestimated the potential of younger players.

Milloy isn't young. In football years, he is dead twice over, revived thrice over and no longer fully flesh enough to make a zombie. His top three career comparisons as determined by Pro Football Reference are James Hasty, retired after playing one game at 36, Rosey Taylor, retired after his age 35 season, and Raymond Clayborn, retired after playing one game at 36.

But Milloy isn't done, either. He had 13 preseason tackles, including a special teams tackle. He had a tackle for a loss on a wide receiver screen. He executed a strong safety blitz as perfectly timed as any I've seen. Milloy has always been an in-the-box strong safety, and if not for the amazing range of Earl Thomas, Milloy would likely be a liability in coverage, but as a hammer safety, that's one part linebacker, one part defensive back and one part enforcer, he is a very good fit. A better fit than the Seahawks have had for some seasons.

When you think about how often Seattle attempted to make Deon Grant into Lawyer Milloy, maybe it's best to start the genuine article. No one would confuse Milloy's cover skills or range with that of Grant's, but then no one would confuse Grant's ability in the box with Milloy's.

Despite his impressive run of health, age may still take its toll. Milloy may be injured and out. He may be injured enough to lose what speed remains. But he isn't broken simply because he is relatively old. Often the promising never fulfill their promise and the young become old without even glory to lose. Sometimes the once-great, long after greatness has left them, can still be pretty damn good.