Matt Flynn and The Tale from 10th Grade
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times
The format is pretty well defined for the feature story I wrote on Matt Flynn that was published in The Seattle Times on Monday.
You go back into the player's history. You talk to former coaches in high school and college. You talk to teammates. Sometimes you talk to parents. You're looking for something that explains something unique about this person who is suddenly so relevant to Seattle.
I call it the "We Knew Him When" feature, and I've written plenty of them. Some were better than others, but I can't think of any other one in which I found a single story from high school that I felt explained more about the athlete's career than Matt Flynn's response to being beaten out for the starting quarterback job his sophomore year.
Not that he bounced back to reclaim the job, mind you. I've written about athletes who've overcome a lot more adversity than losing a varsity starting job in the 10th grade.
Flynn had a lot of options at that point. He could have changed positions. He could have transferred schools. Instead, he dug in his heels, lowered his head and went to work, and this as much as anything, explains the path he followed through five years at LSU and four years in the NFL.
Because Matt Flynn was a pretty big deal coming out of high school. He was one of the top quarterback prospects in a state where that really means something. Nick Saban recruited him to LSU, got his commitment in June 2002, which was before Flynn's senior year began.
When signing day came, JaMarcus Russell joined Flynn in LSU's recruiting class. Both redshirted in 2003, and as freshmen the following season, Russell was the No. 2 quarterback and Flynn No. 3. Flynn spent three years behind Russell on LSU's depth chart, working while he waited for the opportunity that finally came in 2007.
There were several things that surprised me about Flynn's free agency, the first being that Miami didn't make him an offer he couldn't refuse. All the factors seemed to be in place from an antsy owner who wants to make a splash to the fact that Joe Philbin -- Flynn's offensive coordinator in Green Bay -- is now the Dolphins head coach.
I also thought that after being his team's starting quarterback for exactly one of the previous nine seasons, Flynn would prefer a place where he was designated the top quarterback from the moment he walked into the building. And while I think most people expect he'll wind up Seattle's starter, coach Pete Carroll couldn't be much clearer that there will be a competition for the starting job.
That's fine, Flynn said.
"I've always been a firm believer in competition," Flynn said. "I think it brings the best out of everybody. That's what I'm looking forward to and it's something that I can't wait to get it started and get it rolling."