Professional athletes aren’t like the rest of us.
While fans in Green Bay still mourn the crushing loss to Seattle in last year’s NFC Championship Game and fans in Seattle remain in a state of depression over the back-to-back Super Bowl titles that slipped away against New England, the players have long since moved on.
“I didn't do much except just go on living my life,” Packers Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews said of how he got over the playoff disappointment.
Green Bay’s season-opening victory at Chicago nipped in the bud any questions about a potential hangover from the playoff loss. Seattle will be trying to do the same after losing 34-31 to St. Louis last week.
That ability to bounce back, to avoid the hangover, is part of most athletes’ DNA.
“An athlete has been through it before,” All-Pro Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said in a conference call on Wednesday.” That’s the difference between an athlete and a fan. An athlete has been through adversity, has been through adverse situations, has had their ups and down, has had their great games and their bad games. So, they understand the mind-set you have to have when you have to perform week after week after week. Fans sometimes get stuck in a certain mind-set.”
So, while fans from sea to shining sea will tune into NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and focus on the Packers’ attempt to avenge their bitter defeat and the Seahawks’ desire to avoid an 0-2 start, the coaches see this as just another game. And that’s the message they need their players to fully buy into. It’s one of 16. It’s a big one, with Green Bay playing its first home game of the season and Seattle aiming to rebound. Nobody, however, from either team had much interest into fueling what Matthews labeled as “media-driven” drama.
“It started last Sunday with the promos and everything,” Matthews said. “We've heard talk of it being a revenge game but, ultimately, this is just the second game of the season. We've got a very good opponent coming in here. It's not as if we win this game, all is forgotten. I'm sure there's some extra motivation for some, but the reality is it's a very good team and it's a new season and they have the same weapons we saw last year. It should be a fun game. I know it's what the fans are looking for, and it's a good test to see where we're at, where they're at early on.”
Rodgers said all losses are disappointing. But the calendar marches on. There was free agency and the draft. In between, the returning players convened to start their offseason workouts. With an average age of 25.23 years, the Packers are fielding the second-youngest roster in NFL, so it’s not as if there’s a bunch of players who think they wasted their last, best chance at getting to a Super Bowl.
Julius Peppers is one of those players who’s running out of time. He turned 35 on Jan. 18 – the date of the NFC Championship Game. Even Peppers says he has moved on.
Because that’s what athletes do. They move on. Win or lose.
“We’ve played games since. We played a game last week. Our minds are moving forward,” Peppers said. “We’re putting blinders on and focusing straight ahead. Anything that’s behind us is irrelevant in my eyes. I think that’s the approach we’ve got to take. You can’t look back. There’s nothing anybody in this world can do to change anything that happened yesterday. Why worry about it? Move forward and try to correct the things that you want to have a different outcome.”