The anticipation of another Carolina Panthers season is strengthening with each passing day, and I know we can all agree that training camp can't get here fast enough. In the meantime, I've got some movies that I'd like to recommend for your summer pleasure over the next few weeks. First up is Seabiscuit, the story about how one racehorse beat the odds, and captured the heart of a nation.
Although Seabiscuit never raced in any of the three triple crown thoroughbred races(Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) during his career, he still became a legend despite some genetic flaws and early failures. The knobby-kneed Seabiscuit was shorter(15.2), heavier, and lazier than the average racehorse. After losing badly in most of his first seventeen races, he became an afterthought in the eyes of his trainer. Even though he went on to win five of his next thirty-five races, it wasn't good enough. In a move he would soon regret, Seabiscuit's owner promptly sold him to an entrepreneur by the name of Charles S. Howard for 8,000 dollars, and the rest is history.
As it turned out, Seabiscuit just needed someone who could push the right buttons, and Tom Smith, his newly assigned trainer, excelled at getting the most out of his clients. The obvious first order of business for Smith was to rid Seabiscuit of his idle ways. Once that was accomplished, a champion racehorse was born. By the time his racing career was over, he had accumulated 33 wins and 437,000 dollars in total earnings. But Seabiscuit's legendary status was completely written in stone on November 1, 1938 when he beat former triple crown winner, War Admiral, by four lengths in the so-called 'Match of the Century". Here is the actual video:
Jordan Senn may not exactly be today's version of Seabiscuit, but there are a couple of correlating themes worth mentioning. Just as Seabiscuit was discarded by his first owner, Senn was cut by the first NFL team(Colts) he played for after only two seasons of service. Shortly thereafter, the Panthers prudently swooped in to sign him, and he has played an integral part of special teams ever since. But special teams isn't where his abilities end.
Most recently, as injuries kept piling up this past season, the Panthers were forced to throw Senn into the starting lineup, and he didn't disappoint. In fact, his 71 tackles over that seven game stretch placed him among the leading tacklers in the NFL. Senn also forced three fumbles and intercepted a pass to further validate his nose for the ball.
Also like Seabiscuit, Senn has always been a long shot because of his size. Did you know that Senn is reportedly the smallest linebacker in all of the NFL? You won't find too many football players with a 5' 11", 224 lb frame who could excel at the linebacker position as well as he did last season. Although Senn and Seabiscuit share a few things in common, the comparison is quite inadequate, especially when you consider the original dark horse: Sam Mills.
He was truly the Seabiscuit of his generation. At 5' 9", 229 lbs, Mills represented a paradigm shift in the what was thought possible during his NFL playing days. Players his size weren't suppose to dominate at the linebacker position. But Mills did. By the time his twelve year NFL career was complete, he had been recognized as an All-Pro four times and named to the Pro Bowl five times. Even though Mills is no longer with us, his spirit lives on today through players like Jordan Senn. Players who remind us that there is more to a man/woman than how tall he/she stands and how much he/she weighs. Players who prove to us over and over again that the heart defines who we are more than anything else. To that end, Keep Pounding.