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It’s all about perspective and expectations

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks were largely blindsided earlier this month when the team released veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin, one of the most beloved players on the roster by fans and most productive receivers in team history. That, of course, brings up the obvious questions about who will fill Baldwin’s shoes for the receiving corps, and which receivers will be tasked with replacing the lost production.

It’s no secret that the team went heavy at receiver in the draft, adding DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings and John Ursua, and the excitement for those three players among fans is great. Optimism is nothing new for fans, who are expected to be hopeful for the future of fresh additions to the team, but should Seahawks fans be expecting more from this group than from third year players David Moore and Amara Darboh? It’s been more than two years since the Seahawks selected those two in the 2017 NFL Draft, but fans have cooled on them in spite of the flashes they have shown at times because of the holes in their games that have also been shown.

Why is it that fans have greater optimism for players that have zero snaps of NFL game experience than players who have at least been in the system and have experience? Why is it, in spite of evidence that Darboh and Moore can at least hack it at a minimal level fans have turned their attention to the rookies? Is it because humans are inherently drawn to the new and shiny? Is it because research shows that negative outcomes are more impactful on the psyche than positive outcomes and fans now have two season of watching their hopes for Darboh and Moore not be fulfilled as they’d expected?

Whether that is the actual reason behind why fans are more interested in the rookies than the guys who have been here for a couple of years or not, it brings me to the point about perspective and expectations. Fans expectations for Moore and Darboh appear to have been reset lower after two years worth of evidence regarding their skills and abilities on the field. This is not to say either of them is not good, just that receiver is a difficult position to play and takes time to learn. A third year breakout for receivers is not uncommon, and thus we come back to the idea of perspective.

Similarly, many fans are excited about the prospect of Mike Iupati potentially taking over as the starter at left guard, in spite of his injury history. He’s new, so fans have hope that he can demonstrate the All Pro form he showed earlier in his career, and fans are willing to downplay the fact that he hasn’t played a full sixteen games in a season since Matt Flynn was the backup quarterback for the Seahawks. These hopes are founded in the perspective of a Seahawks fan whose never seen him miss a game for their team. In contrast, fans of the Arizona Cardinals fan who watched Iupati miss 25 games over the past four years and never suit up for every game in a season are more than happy to see him depart.

And this brings things back to perspective, which is key for setting realistic expectations. For example, take a look at the following and see what jumps out most (Author’s note: You’ll need to open the tweet to see the full picture to understand the rest of what I’m about to talk about).

That is a tweet that former New England Patriot Brandon Spikes, sent out on the morning of the Super Bowl back in February. Everyone I’ve ever shown that picture to instantly notices one thing, and that is who is in the picture with Spikes. Yes, that is indeed Aaron Hernandez, which immediately leads to the question of why Spikes would tweet a photo of himself with a convicted murderer to get ready for the Super Bowl matchup against the Los Angeles Rams?

The answer to that again likely lies in perspective. The 2011 Super Bowl is the only Super Bowl for which Spikes played in. He was with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and so his Super Bowl memories are from the Pats 2011 loss to the Eli Manning led New York Giants. In short, from his perspective, Super Bowl memories involve Aaron Hernandez, with whom he played not just for the Patriots, but in college with the Florida Gators where the two were teammates for three seasons.

To hammer home my point about perspective, though, what jumped out of the picture to me had nothing to do with the teammate in the picture. Take a look at the shoes Spikes is wearing. For the overwhelming majority of fans reading this article, they’ll probably look at his shoes and shrug, but for me, those shoes jump out of the picture.

Why? Because of my perspective. One look at those shoes and I know exactly what those shoes are. They’re Reebok Realflex. And they’re not Realflex 2.0 or 3.0, those are the originals, which just happen to be my favorite shoes of all time. I bought a pair in 2011 and instantly fell in love. Over the next year or so I picked up a couple more pairs, and in 2013 I found a half dozen pairs in my size at the Reebok store at the Premium Outlets South in Las Vegas and bought them all.

In short, as OTAs wind down over the coming weeks and through training camp in July and August, remember to keep perspective in mind. The flashy new toys that were just recently added may not contribute as much as those who have been working hard while buried on the depth chart. The veteran who had bad injury luck with another team may continue to have bad injury luck with the Seahawks. In short, as fans we’re about to enter into the time of the year when hopes and expectations can begin to far outpace reality as news is hard to come by, but upside and dreams have an inexhaustible supply.