I am convinced nobody’s brain is better-suited than Michael Penix for being a quarterback.
I suppose that would mean his brain is similarly well-suited to being a closing pitcher or hockey goalie, and there are also very few people I’d hand over $100,000 to and trust to turn it into a million at hold ‘em*. He is one of those people.
Yeah sure, of course he’ll lose some hands, but nobody recovers from a lost hand like Michael Penix.
*(This is of course purely hypothetical — if I had money like that lying around I’d be buying a house**.)
**(Obviously that’s a joke too, as if you could buy a house that cheap here.)
Here’s something I’m willing to stand by:
Michael Penix is Washington’s most resillient mind and best mind under pressure since Danielle Lawrie. (Although there are a few runners up.) Specifically, the 2009, post-Olympics, national championship-winning version of Danielle Lawrie.
And considering how she got there and he got here, it makes sense; the most clutch brains don’t get that way by being comfortable.
Danielle has been very open — both with us personally and just in general — about how much she evolved from the beginning of her college career to her first Olympics to the national championship season the year after to her second Olympics 12 years after that. In the process she has been emphatic about not being the same person as when she joined Washington. The implication of Mike’s words when discussing his path sure sound similar, if manifesting themselves differently.
Now, I realize certain people are just born with neurons that are pre-disposed to be That Way — and these two are almost certainly in that category: potentially the perfect closer, goalie, quarterback, stealer of the pot.
But even genetic traits need to be nurtured somehow. Mostly, it seems, through seemingly endless pain of varyious types and Sysiphian levels of keeping on swimming, assuming you aren’t broken beyond repair in that process — an assumption most of us reasonably made when the announcement “Indiana quarterback Michael Penix enters transfer portal” came out.
Even before he chose Washington, most of us knew him as a folk hero for what he’d done at a football program that was — sorry Indiana — mostly in a perpetual state of “just kinda there.”
He was the guy who took that team and did this:
But he was also the guy who’d had four seasons ended halfway through by two shoulders and two knees. I don’t blame anyone for assuming he’d be too physically broken to replicate what he’d done for Indiana — much less surpass those feats.
The human body isn’t supposed to be capable of that. Subsequently, the human brain isn’t particularly well-equipped to handle that either. I mean, why would it be? Up until the last couple decades, nobody was coming back from this level of bodily destruction and, in fact, most people with those injuries would simply end up in wheelchairs by middle- to old-age — so why would a brain need to be able to overcome an un-overcome-able situation?
The fact that Michael Penix is not only still here but still here and generally thriving is what makes me mostly unbothered by the last two weeks. Of course I haven’t enjoyed them, but I recognize they’re the result of a physical ailment that pales in comparison to the other, far worse physical things his brain’s popped back up from.
We’ve already established he’s playing in health circumstances — definitely illness, probably residual core bruising from Oregon — that make it physically impossible to generate necessary torque to operate at his ideal level. We’ve seen it on the ball lofting on out-routes, we’ve seen it in compensating and throwing low, we’ve seen it in lower velocity and deeper parabolas and subsequently uncharacteristic inaccuracy over mid-levels; we saw it in his repeated hesitance to pull the trigger against Stanford when he normally would’ve let it rip, but calculating in the moment that his body at that time simply can’t.
Because again, look at that history of his.
I’m unbothered by the last two weeks for the same reason I’m unbothered by when Michael Penix throws an interception or gets sacked to bring up third and long or leads a drive that ends in punting.
You think one bad drive could get in the head of Michael Penix? The dude who’s had four season-ending injuries and came back each time? The dude who, after those four injuries, went to a new home 2,500 miles away from his childhood and levelled up? The dude who was freestyling on the sideline to his injured, out-of-the-game star receiver about how he and his team were gonna come back against Oregon when it looked more likely than not that he wouldn’t even get the chance?
I don’t think so.
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.