“To dive or not to dive?”
I’m sure this isn’t a question you ever had to ponder in any of your college Humanities/Philosophy classes but Early Doucet had that very decision to make Monday morning.
There’s a lot of double-standards in sports. We love to say, “You practice like you play,” until Larry Fitzgerald got hurt diving over the middle. Imagine seeing Larry lying on the field because a 5th string DB was trying to intercept Warner’s pass and he “accidentally” drove Fitz into the ground. At that moment we’d all say, “Larry’s got to let that throw go and save himself for the season.” If Larry pulls up and stays healthy, then we’d wonder what kind of example he’d be setting for the young players.
I was on my knee at practice this morning around the 40 yard line (since media are allowed in front of fans, I try to take a knee when I can so fans can see over me). The CB covering Doucet had inside position but was having trouble keeping up with Doucet’s speed out of his break. Doucet went air borne in a beautiful dive. He was completely parallel to the ground and possibly as high as 3 feet off of it. Despite losing eye contact with the football for a split-second as he dove behind the CB, Doucet made the catch at full extension.
As the crowd went nuts, trainers were already moving to Doucet. I’m writing this blog just an hour after practice so I don’t know the full extent of his injury. From my vantage point, it appeared to be a very uncomfortable landing on the top of his left shoulder. The trainers began working on his left arm and shoulder. Less than five minutes later, Doucet was walking off the field but he was holding his left arm tightly to his torso.
I loved to see that level of intensity and passion. I have always thought the players that play every play like it’s their last are the ones who play the longest. Of course I don’t want to see Kurt Warner diving for a first down against Pittsburgh next week but I do believe competition builds championships. If Doucet makes that catch and gets back up, he’s raising the bar for every receiver in camp to match his intensity.
There are 10 WR’s on the roster right now. Not only does Doucet need to be one of the top 6 WR’s but he also needs to beat out another 15 players as a special teams contributor in order to guarantee his spot on the roster. He has to make plays like that in order to stand out.
I’m sure there were veterans telling him not to dive. If his shoulder is seriously injured, he’ll have another season battling injuries. His future with the Cardinals will be in serious jeopardy. Some people will tell Doucet he would have made the team anyway and he cost himself a roster spot trying to be a hero.
To me, Doucet wasn’t trying to be a hero. He was trying to win. Win every drill. Win every play. Win every practice. Win every game. I don’t believe in trying to pace yourself. I believe when you try to win every single time you try to do anything, you’ll win some on sheer will. It’s much tougher on an opponent to deal with winner than a talented loser. You can take plays off when your career is over. Consider me a fan of Early Doucet.