Flynn didn't lose the starting quarterback job so much as Russell Wilson won it. "It's not my decision to make," Flynn said. "I'm proud of the way that I've played."
RENTON — Seattle’s quarterback will step into the national spotlight Monday.
It just won’t be the quarterback everyone expected when the NFL announced its schedule way back in April, placing the Seahawks vs. Packers in prime time in Week 3. It was a made-for-TV matchup between Matt Flynn and his former team and close friend Aaron Rodgers.
Sure enough, there’s plenty of excitement over Seattle’s starting quarterback — only that’s not Flynn, but rookie Russell Wilson. He was featured front and center on ESPN.com Wednesday, and he has a new Levi’s ad that will air during Monday’s game.
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Flynn is the other side to Seattle’s quarterback competition because he was vying for the opportunity Wilson earned. And while Flynn didn’t lose that starting job so much as Wilson won it, this must be more than a little disappointing for Flynn. On Thursday, he got to sit in his locker while half a dozen reporters tried to find a polite way to ask about the reality that he’s not the one starting against his former team.
“It’s not my decision to make,” Flynn said. “I’m proud of the way that I’ve played and I’ve picked everything up and how I’ve handled coming into a new situation. I can’t control anything. I’m just trying to make the team better and make myself better, and stay confident.”
Flynn was pleasant, he was polite and above all, he was professional. The NFL is a big-boy business, and there’s no Little League requirement that everyone gets to play at least a little.
You can disagree with coach Pete Carroll’s decision to start Wilson over Flynn, but you can’t dispute the coach’s right to make that decision. What Flynn was owed by Seattle was the money promised in a contract that will pay him a tidy $8 million this year alone.
But there’s a personal side to this business, too, and Flynn is a guy who spent four years waiting for his turn to start as a senior at LSU. Then, he served the past four years as Rodgers’ understudy before hitting the open market, looking for a spot to shine and deciding it would be Seattle.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy is good friends with John Schneider, Seattle’s general manager, and provided a glowing report. Flynn doesn’t have the strongest arm in the league, and he’s not the fastest man under center. It his gutsiness and ability to rise to the occasion that sets him apart. McCarthy compared Flynn’s gutsiness to Rich Gannon, whom McCarthy coached in Kansas City.
When the schedule was announced in April, McCarthy thought he’d see his former player under center in Seattle.
“I definitely felt from my experience with Matt that we’d be playing against him come Week 3,” McCarthy said. “There’s no question about that.”
So what happened?
Well, Wilson happened. That and a sore arm at the most inopportune time for Flynn, who was considered the most likely opening-day starter through the first two exhibition games.
Then Wilson got hot against Kansas City, a game Flynn couldn’t play in, and the Seahawks decided to put the rookie under center, leaving Flynn as the backup. Again.
“Initially, it was a shock to him,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He took it like any quarterback you hope would take it. He wasn’t happy about it. It wasn’t how he had expected it to go or saw it in his mind.
“Once he moved on from that, he has been great for Russ.”
Flynn hasn’t given up on that opportunity. It’s just that he’s still waiting to get that chance.
“I’m always preparing like I’ve got to be ready to go,” Flynn said. “That’s how my mentality is. I’m ready to go whenever I need to go. That’s how I’m always going to look at it.
“I still have confidence.”
This week, that means Flynn will try to prepare Seattle’s defense for the Packers by running Green Bay’s offense in practice, doing his best impersonation of Rodgers, his close friend. They still talk frequently, and while Flynn won’t be the one starting against his former team on Monday, the story is a long way from being over.
“It hasn’t gone the way he would have wanted so far,” Rodgers said. “But he’s a competitor, and hopefully he’s going to get an opportunity at some point, either there or somewhere else.”
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @dannyoneil