Joey Blue Skies

Joey Harrington did an exit interview with Detroit Free Press writer Mitch Albom. You can read part 1 and part 2 on their Web site. Very interesting comments. I feel bad for the guy. Yeah, he didn’t do the greatest, but look at the hand he was dealt.

Joey HarringtonThere is some very telling stuff in part 2. For starters:

QUESTION: Was there a moment when you felt that Coach Mariucci had lost confidence in you?

ANSWER: There was an incident. It was about halfway through my third season. I went into his office to talk with him. I said, “Coach, I need you to give me permission to throw the ball downfield. To take some shots downfield. I feel like I can’t.” He said, “I don’t know where you’re getting that idea.” I said, “You tell me every day if there’s any chance of a mistake, pull it back, check down. I feel roped in. Let me take some chances.” He stood up, went to his sink and started brushing his teeth. He said, “I’ve got to go do some interviews. If you want to talk about this, come back later.”

And then he walked out.

I look back on that now and it seems like such a defining moment. But at the time, I was so focused on making him happy, on getting in his good graces, I just let it go.

I can’t imagine being in that situation–where Joey clearly is crying out for help, saying: something needs to change here… I want us to succeed and I want to be part of the solution. Help me do something about this… and Mooch just lets it slide off and goes about his business. “I have some other stuff to do… we’ll worry about your problem later…

Reminds me a lot of a situation here at work where a coworker is struggling with the environment and has several times asked for help in a creating a system for increased productivity… but the pleas have gone unheard or unheeded. Status quo is way too simple to maintain.

This next section is even more telling.

Q: Was your image in Detroit that you were too nice, too much of a cheerleader type?

A: You mean “Joey Blue Skies”? I don’t care. Image is what people think you are; character is who you are. Too upbeat? Too upbeat for what? For who? For all the years of the Lions losing? What is too upbeat?

That was the job they handed me, to go in and change that organization, make it a winner. Am I gonna do that by conforming to whatever happened in the past? That wasn’t gonna work and that wasn’t who I am. So for people to criticize me for being too glass-half-full — I don’t care. I had a goal. I had a job to do. Listening to what people thought and said around you is probably part of why things are the way they are in Detroit.

Q: Why do people do it then?

A: Because it’s easy. It’s easy to fit in. Easy to conform, easy to follow everyone else and what has always been because you never have to stick your neck out there, you never have to risk anything. I felt I did that every day.

Wow. “Listening to what people thought and said around you is probably part of why things are the way they are…” When are we going to get it through our heads that whining and complaining accomplishes nothing and does far more harm than good. Actually, there isn’t a bit of good that comes from complaining. There isn’t a bit of good that comes from talking about how bad things are or how things will never change. Being a cup-half-full person is a biblical mandate. It’s called faith; it’s called seeing things that aren’t as though they are (Romans 4, esp. verse 17). It’s what God did and still does.

It makes complete sense that a quarterback that had only lost three games his whole college career could muster only three wins (and 13 losses) his first year in Detroit. It’s because that entire city, and most of the state, sits under the oppression of a spirit of poverty… a spirit of defeat… a spirit of depression. And it makes complete sense that Joey’s positive attitude wouldn’t fly with the media–especially the local media.

We’re supposed to be realistic, right? We’re supposed to get our heads out of the clouds and deal with real life. That’s exactly what the enemy would like you to do: to get so focused on your reality in the flesh that you have no energy to focus on what God says reality is in the spirit.

I don’t know for sure if Joey is a Christian. But he knows the power of faith and hope. The world calls it “positive thinking.” The top business leaders in the country know it’s power and write about it in books and teach it at seminars. It’s a principle that works because it’s a principle of God. The Lord saw creation in the spirit, spoke it and watched it turn into the physical reality we live in.

I have respect for Joey Harrington. I really hope he succeeds. He deserves to given what he went through as a player. At the same time, I hope the Lions made the right choice in sending him off to Miami and starting fresh. I hope the new coaches change the culture of the organization and that it in turn affects the fans, which in turn affects the city.

I hope Joey’s positive thinking about the future of the Lions and the City of Detroit is true:

I really do believe that things will turn around with Coach Marinelli, I really do. And when they do, that city is gonna go crazy. That city will go absolutely crazy.

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

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