Do the right thing

The Cletidus Hunt and Mike McKenzie situations are decidedly different. Hunt was mysteriously missing from a minicamp that is, technically, not mandatory. McKenzie meanwhile leaves no mystery about why he is in outright violation of his contract.<P> One similarity can't be ignored: No matter what explantion Hunt offers when he returns Monday, both these formerly respected starters chose to put the individual above the team.<P>

McKenzie is just flat-out wrong. No matter what explantion Hunt offers Monday, he just took a different road to the same poor choice.

In order to win a championship, a team needs a lot of things to go its way. One of those factors is cohesion, chemistry, call it whatever you will. The bottom line is that every player needs to be on board the team train for the entire ride.

According to reports, Hunt will be back on Monday. While all may be forgiven when Hunt explains himself, the energy that GM/coach Mike Sherman has expended on the defensive end's AWOL adventure can not be paid back. Meanwhile the McKenzie debacle continues to cost the team in myriad ways.

The NFL annals are littered with headlines about players who went their own way. Trade talk and holdouts have damaged title hopes, and sometimes careers. Ask Dorsey Levens. Remember that earlier in the Mike Holmgren-era the Packers were held hostage by Sterling Sharpe on the eve of the '94 season. He returned after Holmgren and Ron Wolf had to put their concentration on the team aside on the Saturday night before opening day to deal with their diva and finally brought him back. Sharpe may have had the numbers, but it wasn't until he was gone that the Packers found their true championship character.

The slide toward selfishness certainly isn't limited to players. Bill Parcells has made a sport out of usurping the limelight. In my opinion Green Bay was going to win Super Bowl XXXI no matter who was coaching on the opposite sideline, but it certainly didn't help the Patriots to have Parcells' career choice become the focus of their Super Bowl week.

This is minicamp, not the eve of the regular season and certainly not the Super Bowl. Ask any champion and they will tell you that winning begins even before the beginning. It starts with off-season workouts, reporting to camp in shape and practicing to win whether the calendar says April or June, September or January.

If this team has the Super Bowl as its ultimate goal, the time to start working on that has already passed.

McKenzie is purposely throwing an obstacle in the path to that goal. The Hunt situation isn't nearly that bad. However, in failing to inform his team of his whereabouts or turning to his coach for advice on how to juggle professional responsibilities with personal problems, Hunt has definitely stalled on the way.

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