Tough news from the NFL today as one of the real bright lights of the Joker Phillips era is temporally extinguished. Winston Guy arrived on campus as a freshman with some hype, even more talent, and little clue of how to play safety in a college program. He would do something impressive, a tackle in the open field, a great special teams play, then follow it up with moves so boneheaded one wondered if any of his high school or college coaching ever sunk in.
One of my big pet peeves with the outgoing staff was its seeming inability to develop players. Too many times the players who contributed early in their careers plateaued quickly and leveled off. Winston was different. During his first three seasons, he caught on gradually. The ineffective "sticks" he used to tackle players without wrapping up became less frequent. He looked less lost (though still not terribly comfortable) in pass coverage as time went on.
After a solid junior year, Guy was asked to change positions to a Hybrid Safety-Linebacker. Though he was reportedly not happy, he went to work. As it turned out, the move brought out the most in Guy. Freed up to support the run and worry less about playing the deep spots in zones, Guy registered 120 tackles (absurd for a safety) including a sick 14 for losses. Guy became soul-mates with Danny Trevathan, a workhorse and high character guy who obviously rubbed off on him. The two were eventually taken with back to back picks in the NFL draft.
As a Sixth Round selection, Guy was probably less than even money to make the Seahawks roster, but won the coaching staff over with some high quality special teams play in the last two exhibitions. Guy made the 53 man roster, but has been active in only two of the Seahawks regular season games and has yet to record any statistics.
The suspension is a huge blow to Guy on a number of levels. First off, he'll miss out on 1/4 of his first year salary at a minimum. Given that he was a marginal player to begin with, there would appear to be some chance he will be released when he returns.
Guys agent has been quoted to indicate that the positive test was the result of a banned substance contained in an over-the-counter supplement. Take that for what it is worth. The fact is, the NFL lets these players tell their own story so long as they accept the punishment, which Winston has.
This bums me out to no end. I follow Winston on Twitter and find him to be the kind of person who has matured. He dotes on his girlfriend and young son. His communications bespeak someone still naive about the world and not at all hung up on his college success or current career.
He probably cheated. So what. Its hard to imagine anyone in his position not thinking seriously about doing the same thing. Football players don't make millions overseas. You are either in the league or you aren't. There are no guaranteed contracts and no allowances made for people who are dinged up or not cutting it. Next man up, Not For Long or whatever you want to call it. It's true.
Winston Guy was one of my favorite UK players. I hope he emerges from this a wiser man, and one who can still get paid to play football.
Follow me on Twitter @AlexScutchfield