When I was a player, I never thought about anything but winning. I would put injuries aside if tolerable and focus on what was going on in the game. It’s almost like having a separate memory bank for every injury endured during game week.
Broken fingers? Check! Torn rotator cuff? Check! Bum knee? Check! Concussion? Triple check! I often ponder about the Eagles’ players. What happens when the players know for sure they’re no longer in playoff contentions?
Every team’s, every coach’s and every player’s intention is making it to the big game, the Superbowl. That’s it! In order to get to the NFL, you have to work extremely hard at one of the most-physical sports in the world. Before stepping into the arena, you have to review your opponent’s strength and weakness as well as mentally and physically prepare for the game.
Every day, the week leading to a game, you have to detach yourself from any outside distractions and only focus on the game. Every practice, every scrimmage, every walk through, play after play, being a professional is all you can do when playing in the NFL.
Do players play to win or do they play for a better draft pick? It’s still to be determined. Even though I’ve never heard it from a coach’s mouth not to win or play hard, I often wonder if there’s subliminal message that coaches send out to their players during a losing season in order to get a better draft pick. When you see teams making a run for the playoffs with their top draft picks and the impact they’re making, it makes you wonder why more teams don’t opt to continue losing in order to move higher in the draft.
Is it in a player’s DNA to continue to play to win, or is it just a mental thing when they are having a losing season? The continued decline and the poor play makes you wonder if the players have bought into the subliminal message to play for a better draft pick. Or could it be the other way around, where most players begin to think that there is an “I” in “team” and start playing for new contracts or a spot on next year’s roster?