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Originally published October 13, 2009 at 2:25 PM | Page modified October 13, 2009 at 11:51 PM

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Steve Kelley

Young players would be wise not to follow Owen Schmitt's example

The idea is to hit other players, not to hit yourself in the face until you bleed.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Owen Schmitt came running onto the field before the Seahawks' must-win game Sunday against Jacksonville, crashing his helmet into his forehead until tributaries of blood streamed down his face and he looked like the winner of some Stupid Human Trick contest.

Seeing the incident played over and over on ESPN this week, as if it were the coolest thing since "The Immaculate Reception," I wondered what high-school coaches thought and what they might say to their players about Schmitt's self-inflicted silliness.

It's a drizzly Thursday night. The skies are darkening quickly and the coach calls his players together in front of the goal posts to talk about the next night's high-school football game.

OK, gentlemen, show of hands. Who saw Owen Schmitt treating his face like a Whac-A-Mole board when he ran onto the field during player introductions at Sunday's game with the Jags?

Everybody but Rodgers? Why didn't you watch it, Rodgers? Oh, that's right, your parents took away your television and video-game privileges after you got that "D" in math.

Next question. Who thought what Schmitt did was the coolest thing they'd ever seen on a football field? Who thought it showed a warrior mentality? Who thought it was a statement to his teammates that he would do anything and everything to win that game?

That's what I thought. Too many of you.

Well, gentlemen, let me tell you what I thought.

I thought it was the dumbest thing I'd ever seen done on a football field. And that includes the cellphone call Joe Horn made after he scored a touchdown, or that Sharpie stunt that Terrell Owens pulled at Qwest Field.

It was dumber than Garo Yepremian's pass in Super Bowl VII. OK, I understand you guys weren't even born then.

Remember last year when Rodgers here tried to prove how tough he was and ran into the goal post before our homecoming game? Remember the separated shoulder? That's how dumb this was.

Maybe I failed to go over this at two-a-days in August. And I apologize for that. So I'll say it now. In the game of football, you're supposed to hit the guy in front of you, not your own forehead.

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If there's blood to be shed, gentlemen, I would prefer we inflict it on opponents, not our own foreheads. I'd rather no blood be shed, period.

Everybody understand that?

Now, every once in a while, a high-school coach like myself expects a little, um, lunacy from one of his players. We try hard to prevent it, but sometimes it just happens.

But Owen Schmitt is in the NFL, and if it takes making your face look like some kindergarten student's finger painting to fire up your team, I'd say there's something wrong with the player and his team.

But frankly, gentlemen, I think the Seahawks already were focused for Jacksonville. They didn't need to stare into the frightening four-alarm face of Owen Schmitt right before kickoff.

If he was auditioning for "Saw VII" that would be one thing. If this was WWE and not the NFL, that would be fine.

What's that, Rodgers? You've been told that Schmitt's been on "SportsCenter" this week more than Linda Cohn?

Does that make it right?

I'm sure Schmitt will be nominated for an ESPY for Most Original Pre-Game Motivational Stunt. Yippee!

Who knows what else will be nominated? Maybe Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger will take a puck in the face before a Stanley Cup playoff game. Or Kevin Youkilis will ask Boston's batting-practice pitcher to throw a beanball at him before a game with the Yankees.

But listen, gentlemen, as far as I'm concerned, what Owen Schmitt did was more stupor than blooper. It was silly, and it could have been serious.

We have enough concern about head injuries in our game. We don't need any that are self-inflicted. If you want to ring your own bell, join the choir.

Look, I want you to play as hard as Owen Schmitt does. That kind of on-the-field aggression is what we coaches have been preaching to you guys since camp.

But, do me a favor, gentlemen. Do yourselves a favor. Keep your helmets on. And hit the other team. Not your own forehead.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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