My friend John stopped by the other day and whenever he comes, I am never the same. He is a deeply mystic man who dwells in a world I don't even pretend to understand. All I know is the air around him is energized and I always feel so alert when he is there. When John listens to you it feels like he sees into your soul, and just as quickly he will fade away into a faraway place with a faraway look in his eyes. He is an amazing man, always full of insight I could never come up with myself. I was writing the post on our first round selection when he appeared.
"What's up Terry" he says. "Figuring out the first round draft choice" I replied. "You don't have the right thinking on it" John said. "You have to figure out the transcendental element first, you have to draft transcendental players". As usual, I'm lost. I never understand what he is talking about but it never stops me from asking. "John, what the hell do you mean transcendental player".
"A transcendental player", he explains" "is one who can focus and concentrate so hard that everything else melts away and he or she exists only in the moment". "In this state, they transcend their normal physical abilities and play at a higher physical and mental level". "Everything slows down for them; they see everything at the same time, can communicate with their team-mates without saying anything, and have physical abilities to pull off the impossible, at this level of play, they are unstoppable". "It's like when someone is about to be in a car accident and they say they could see everything unfold in slow motion, some athletes can achieve that state during competition". "When you draft players, you need to look for transcendental players".
Now I'm getting concerned because I'm starting to understand his point of view and agree with him. "So, John, give me some examples of what you are talking about". "No problem", he replies as he hunts through my refrigerator and finds my last Bass Ale. "Right here in Jacksonville, Sunday Night football, Pittsburgh Steelers, you saw it yourself". "Ben Roethlisberger has 800 pounds of Jaguars hanging off of him dragging him down, and he sends out a command to Hines Ward and throws a 20 yard strike to keep the game alive" "No way anyone who saw it thought it was possible, he transcended normal human ability". "That game and that play, by the way, killed the Jaguars season; they stopped believing in themselves after that".
I remember being at the stadium and seeing that play and wondering how he pulled that off. I'm lost in thought as I hear the refrigerator again and John starts making a sandwich. "Here is the perfect example" he shouts to me, "Mohammed Ali verses George Forman, go watch the tape of that, you will see it". "Ali comes out of the first round and you see the concern on his face, he knows he can't beat this guy". John comes back into my office, beer and sandwich in hand. "In between the first and second round, watch as he disappears deep inside himself to search for the answer, watch him tap into an inner strength and begin to transcend". "In 30 seconds he transforms and fights the fight of his life, no way could he have won it, he did the impossible". I have to agree, I thought he was dead when I saw it.
So I get it, guys like Michael Jordan, Jack Nicholas, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Hank Aaron all played at times at a level no one could touch. "John, how do find transcendental players, what do we look for" I ask.
"Look for guys like DeMeco Ryans, guys that just believe in themselves so strongly that you can see them grow every year" he says. "Watch in particular for guys people overlook or dismiss but who refuse to be held down, DeMeco was like that". "Ryans was a second round draft choice but has played lights out since, how could people not see that?" he asks as if it is common knowledge.
So I'm bought in now and think he might be right, time to ask the real question. "John, who do you see as a good transcendental player this year?" I ask. "Mark Sanchez, USC Quarterback" he says without pause. "Oh that's it!" I say, "You had me for a moment, now I can't buy it, he has no experience, his own coach says he needs more time, he is too young". "Exactly" John says, "Mark is the only one who believes in Mark, go watch the Rose Bowl again, he carved up Penn State, played out of his mind". "John, you can't be serious" I say, but he has finished the debate. "All I can say is the guy has that air and desire around him, two years from now, watch out".
And with that he slips away grabbing a bag of potato chips on the way out. I never know when John will come around again, but as always, he leaves me thinking. Maybe while David has his best years, Mark could be learning. I really don't want to see him carve us up like he did Penn State as Peyton Manning's replacement. Maybe it is time to think future, I wonder, and then suddenly shake my head and snap out of it. We need a left tackle, we need a defensive line, we don't need a bench quarterback, but then again I have fallen into needs based drafting. As usual, John has blown apart my thinking. I hate it when he comes, but can't wait till he returns.