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The inside pitch


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It's been almost two weeks since Dave Dickenson was unceremoniously cut by the Seattle Seahawks. Two weeks and still no NFL team has signed or even feigned interest in the former Griz All-American.

I don't profess to be an NFL expert. Truth be told, I don't really consider myself an NFL fan. I'll watch games on Sunday, because I like football. But I'll take any college game, even a Bobcat game, over a pro game.

There is just something about the NFL that bothers me. Maybe because it's too much like a business. NFL should stand for No Fun League. Players are restricted in what they wear from their socks to their numbers. And then there is the games themselves.

The games last at least seven hours with commercial breaks, protested calls and two-minute warnings dragging the game out longer that John Madden's eyebrow hairs.

And what is happening with Dickenson right now is just adding to my dislike of the NFL.

I realize that the NFL is a business. Consequently, personnel decisions are based as such. There is no loyalty. If you're an NFL player looking for loyalty, you better buy a dog.

That is what the Seahawks, and before them the San Diego Chargers, used as their reasoning for cutting Dickenson a business decision. Both teams decided to go with rookie quarterbacks, whom they can groom over the next three or four years, instead of keeping the 29-year-old Dickenson.

It seemed logical for the Chargers. They named second-year player Drew Brees their starter after Brees beat out veteran Doug Flutie in preseason. With Brees playing superbly in the preseason and the reliable and durable Flutie as the backup, the need to keep a seasoned player like Dickenson as the third-string quarterback wasn't necessary. Instead, they chose to keep rookie Seth Burford, who played, well, like a rookie for most of the preseason.

After being cut by the Chargers, Dickenson was signed quickly by the Seattle Seahawks. With starter Trent Dilfer out with a knee injury, Seattle had only Matt Hasselback remaining. The Seahawks picked up Dickenson to be Hasselback's backup until Dilfer was healthy. After that, Dickenson and Hasselback were supposed to compete for the backup position.

But that didn't happen. As soon as Dilfer was healthy, Seattle head coach and general manager Mike Holmgren cut Dickenson in favor of rookie Jeff Kelly.

This move seems perplexing for a number of reasons. First, Dilfer wasn't Carl Lewis in terms of foot speed before the injury. Now with a bulky brace, his mobility was more like a snail, leaving him susceptible to further injury. Second, Hasselback's play was anything but inspiring. During Dilfer's absence, he led the Seahawks to a brilliant opening season loss to the Oakland Raiders, throwing for a measly 155 yards.

After signing a multimillion-dollar contract to be the Seahawks quarterback of the future, Hasselback is now the Seahawks quarterback of regret.

Holmgren, who first coached Hasselback while he was at Green Bay, sold the Seahawks on the idea of trading for Hasselback. Obviously the trade was a mistake. However, Holmgren's ego is just about as large as his waistline, and he won't admit to making a mistake with Hasselback.

If the Seahawks were really making the decisions based on business, they would have cut Hasselback and his salary cap- strapping salary and kept Dickenson, who was making the NFL minimum.

But the Seahawks are sooner to win the Super Bowl than Holmgren is to admit he was wrong about Hasselback.

As of yet, Dickenson has never taken a snap in an NFL regular season game. He played sparingly in preseason games, but when he did he was effective. Perhaps that's what bothers me the most, is that he has been cut twice based solely on his performance in practice and a few preseason games.

NFL scouts aren't afraid to state the obvious faults about Dickenson. "Too small, not fast and not strong enough arm." Well, that has been the knock against Dickenson since he was in eighth grade.

And since then he's proven people at every level wrong. He won in high school, in college and in the Canadian Football League. That doesn't seem to show up on NFL scouting reports, where there are things like 40-yard dash time, bench press max and vertical leap. At the top of any scouting report on Dickenson, the word: WINNER, should be written in bright red ink.

Just give the guy a chance, let him play one quarter of a game and he will perform. He doesn't know any other way.

Dave Dickenson deserves better than this. He deserves better than to be cut by a team for a rookie quarterback, when he is better than the team's backup quarterback. He deserves better than to sit at home and patiently wait for some team to pick him up after their quarterback goes down. He deserves better than being labeled for what he isn't, rather than what he is.

He deserves a chance to show what we in Montana already know, that he is an NFL quarterback.


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