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Joey Harrington Speaks

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I'm sure some of you have read this and it's probably floating around this forum, but our good friend Joey Harrington wrote a long article on basically how the Lions ruined him. I seem to have a new found appreciation for Matthew Stafford as I'm sure he's not as big of pansy as Harrington and has to ask permission to throw the ball down field.

Here's an excerpt about his Lions days:

In 2002, the Detroit Lions selected me at No. 3 overall. The four years I spent there absolutely crushed me. By the time I left, I was a shell of the player I once was. Here’s an example of how broken things were by the end.

I remember walking into the office of then head coach Steve Mariucci and telling him, “I need you to give me permission to throw the ball down the field.” I’d never felt so down. At that point, I was just searching — grasping — for some kind of support.

“Why do you need permission?” he asked.

“I’m afraid to make a mistake,” I said. “You tell me every day, if it’s close, check it down … and I’ve gotten into a rhythm where all I do is check it down, and I’m afraid to throw it down the field.”

He got up, went to his closet, grabbed a toothbrush, and started brushing his teeth. Then he walked towards the door, and said, “I have to go do some interviews. I’ll be back. If you want to come back later, we can talk.”

He just left.

That was at the very end, when things had all but collapsed around me. Mariucci was a good guy who was trying to save his job, but when one of my teammates went out and said I was the reason our coach got fired, it created a situation where I just imploded mentally. I couldn’t handle it.

This wasn’t football. This wasn’t team. This wasn’t fun.

Through the gentle nudging of general manager Matt Millen — who was, in my opinion, one of the only stand-up guys in that organization — I spent a lot of time with a sports psychologist, trying to figure out how to get my confidence back. In the NFL (and especially at the quarterback position), if you don’t have confidence, you’re done.

https://thecauldron.si.com/despite-what-you-may-think-my-nfl-career-was-a-success-179aeca1b1e7#.xolc7lmus

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That reads like someone who has to blame someone for failing in the NFL.
of course what is missing from a story like the Mariucci one is the context of whether that was the 1st or the 50th time he had gone to Steve to complain......

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of course what is missing from a story like the Mariucci one is the context of whether that was the 1st or the 50th time he had gone to Steve to complain......

The other part is I am not sure if it should be Steve's job to hold Joey's hand.

And even if it is, if Steve has another appointment, then he does. I don't think he should be missing appointments at the drop of a hat because Joey wants or needs to talk. Schedule an appointment beforehand rather than drop in unannounced.

To me though, what was most telling, was Steve's comment, 'why do you need permission [to throw downfield]?'

Every qb is told from a relatively early in their development to check down if the first throw isn't there. In the NFL, especially, taking unnecessary risks lose games. They just do. If Joey can't handle that fundamental fact without losing confidence, then he is in the wrong business, and that has nothing to do with Steve.

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I'm still curious to know how Harrington had a sub 60% completion percentage and more interceptions than TD if he was always forced to check down?

Harrington comes off as like a smart *** teenager. A coach probably talked to him early in his career after he threw an interception. He probably forced it into coverage when the check down was available. He probably thought, I'll show him, and checked it down. Now he asks Steve to throw it downfield. If he throws into coverage he can fall back on, see Steve told me to throw it deep.

I have to wonder how other teams evaluated Harrington coming out. Was he really this weak minded in interviews?

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To me though, what was most telling, was Steve's comment, 'why do you need permission [to throw downfield]?'

Yeah, and the fact that Joey thinks this makes him look good is rather telling, as well.

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I have to wonder how other teams evaluated Harrington coming out. Was he really this weak minded in interviews?

It is entirely possible he interviewed well because he entered the league with false confidence.

I can comment on this later, but have to run right now.

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It is entirely possible he interviewed well because he entered the league with false confidence.

I can comment on this later, but have to run right now.

Largely off-topic, but I was speaking to the admissions officer at a school, and he was telling me that the biggest thing that has changed in his years in admissions is the proliferation of 'snow-plow' kids applying to his school.

'Snow plow' kids are kids whose parents have done everything in their power to eliminate every obstacle in their child's path (i.e. snow plowed), so their child can walk their way into success.

The kids typically are sent to extensive training to they are far up on the learning curve relative their peers, held back in kindergarten an extra year so they are the oldest kid in class throughout school, parents take them off a team if their kid isn't the featured star, harangue teachers into giving their kid an A (whether they deserve it or not), making their child first chair violin (whether they deserve it or not), pulling favors so their child receives preferential treatment.

The practical consequence is these kids look like really good candidates at first glance: they look the part - they appear really successful, have confidence (bordering on arrogance), and can articulate their thoughts well.

The other consequence is they are completely unequipped to deal with failure and are very quick to blame others (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, it seems) rather than learning the lessons one needs to take from failure if they are to succeed long term. In essence, the idea that they could be the one at fault is not even a consideration in their logic.

I have no clue about Joey's upbringing, and the following is very speculative, but when I read Joey's comments, it read like someone who was snowplowed into the NFL, and he still isn't (at age 35-ish!) emotionally equipped to accept his role in his struggles in the NFL.

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The article reads to me like someone who entered the league and was abruptly hit with a large amount of cognitive dissonance (not as good as he thought he was or as good as he thought he should be) then in the face of overwhelming evidence that supported these results, that he was indeed a poor NFL player, he then changed his narrative to rationalize the outcome rather then accept the facts.

"I never wanted to win a super bowl, or have a HOF career or even be the best player on the team. My only career disappointment was I didn't get to play in the Rose Bowl. My career was a success because despite playing for poor coaches throughout my career and delivering sub par play continually, football taught me life lessons."

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Could be Harrington is that rare example of a guy just good enough to get there but lacked that personal drive that nearly all pro athletes require to get there. To him it was just another job and if it didn't work out so be it. He will do something else. He didn't want the drama or know how to deal with it as Biggs suggested. I buy that too. A form of helicopter parenting.

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Seems to me either the Lions failed to properly vet Joey Harrington and borked it big time when they selected him, or the Lions system was indeed so crushing that it turned a potential star into a tentative, scared cipher.

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Could be Harrington is that rare example of a guy just good enough to get there but lacked that personal drive that nearly all pro athletes require to get there.

Pretty much my take.

If he couldn't receive instruction or adjust or deal with failure well, I just don't see how he was going to be successful in the NFL at any organization independent of the level of coaching he received.

I think he would have failed under Belichek or (Vince) Lombardi or Knoll or Shula in the hypothetical.

He didn't want the drama or know how to deal with it as Biggs suggested. I buy that too. A form of helicopter parenting.

The individual I was speaking to said they used to think the helicoptor kids were bad until they started to get the snowplow kids in. He opined the snowplow kids are set up for failure long term far worse than the helicopter kids are.

The snowplow kids really struggle to learn to how to simply accept their portion of the responsibility for failure in general whereas the helicopter kids need a year or two to adapt to not having a vulture on their shoulder, but once they adapt to that, they tend to be fine.

Edited by Mr. Bigglesworth

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Could be Harrington is that rare example of a guy just good enough to get there but lacked that personal drive that nearly all pro athletes require to get there... .

IMO: This.

Harrington had decent QB skills but he was not cut out for the NFL. He was a total cultural misfit. Since he had so little in common with this teammates he could never be motivated to strive for/with them and vice versa.

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Pretty much my take.

If he couldn't receive instruction or adjust or deal with failure well, I just don't see how he was going to be successful in the NFL at any organization independent of the level of coaching he received.

I think he would have failed under Belichek or (Vince) Lombardi or Knoll or Shula in the hypothetical.

The individual I was speaking to said they used to think the helicoptor kids were bad until they started to get the snowplow kids in. He opined the snowplow kids are set up for failure long term far worse than the helicopter kids are.

The snowplow kids really struggle to learn to how to simply accept their portion of the responsibility for failure in general whereas the helicopter kids need a year or two to adapt to not having a vulture on their shoulder, but once they adapt to that, they tend to be fine.

Funny because I just heard that term last week for the first time. Someone we know is trying to get their kid into a good prep school. Requires a test and interview. She said she wasn't worried because "they know people". Keep in mind this is a lady who's oldest son is 19 and lives in their basement. Can't hold a job. Arrested for a DUI for leaving scene of accident last month. She bragged about getting a good lawyer and knocking it down to probation. Middle child lives with her aunt. Now this kid. All 3 with different dads too.

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Funny because I just heard that term last week for the first time. Someone we know is trying to get their kid into a good prep school. Requires a test and interview. She said she wasn't worried because "they know people". Keep in mind this is a lady who's oldest son is 19 and lives in their basement. Can't hold a job. Arrested for a DUI for leaving scene of accident last month. She bragged about getting a good lawyer and knocking it down to probation. Middle child lives with her aunt. Now this kid. All 3 with different dads too.

Yeah - my son is interested in boarding schools and that is where I heard the term from.

Apparently lots of applicants use coaches and prep for months leading up to the interview in addition to have been snowplowed in general for years.

It apparently is pretty obvious for the admissions officers to spot, so if you have a child that is interested, or as a parent have aspirations for your kid to go to a boarding school, don't snowplow for your kid, because it isn't helpful.

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