New Seahawks QB scores with bosses, fans; Mariners hope to score big in Japan
Seahawks fans like what they're hearing about new quarterback Matt Flynn. Team leaders touted his skills and leadership ability this week.
While the Seahawks welcome an important new player, a veteran player for the Mariners is preparing for a huge homecoming in Japan.
KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel covers both topics this week.
The real deal
Art says Seahawks general manager John Schneider can't say enough good things about Matt Flynn. He says Flynn is the real deal - despite only having played in two games last season with Green Bay.
"They really do like Flynn's command of himself and of the game. He's a very bright guy, a very able leader. His two starts were spectacular as the backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. On Jan. 1 against Detroit he threw for six touchdowns and 480 yards - setting Packer passing records. And that caught everybody's eye and made him the No. 2 free agent quarterback in the market behind Peyton Manning."
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said this week that there will be an open competition for the starting job between Flynn and Tavaris Jackson. Art says that's not the case.
"They have to say it, and we have to disbelieve it. It's a delicate situation. You don't want to foreclose on Jackson starting because what happens if Flynn falls down the stairs? Or fails to perform? They don't want to 'dis' the guy who could be a 16-game starter for them. But we see the reality of the contract: three years for $26 million - $10 million guaranteed. And Tavaris Jackson has one year left on a $4 million deal. So, that's the reality and it's Flynn's job to lose."
Mariners in Japan
The Mariners left for Japan Thursday. They will open their season against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 28 and 29. Art will be in Japan all next week as well.
He says this isn't the first time Major League Baseball has played games in Japan. But it's the first time the Mariners have.
"The Mariners have the closest relationship with Japan than any other Major League Baseball team. It's a big deal for them to connect with this fan base that's followed Ichiro. This is his first homecoming in a Mariner uniform. There's a lot of interest in him. He's still a rock star at age 38. He's still popular. And the Mariners really do want to connect with the Japanese fan base and celebrate Ichiro's 10-year career."
You can follow Art Thiel's dispatches from Japan at Sportspress Northwest and next week on KPLU.