If Matt Flynn allowed himself, he could easily be distracted Friday evening when the Green Bay Packers prepare to face the Oakland Raiders.
Not only is Flynn engaged in a battle to become the Packers' No. 2 quarterback, he's taking on the team that cut him loose last season just months after acquiring him in a trade.
For any mortal human being, that's a lot to handle and process, particuarly in the high-stakes environment of the NFL. But according to Flynn, he's not out for revenge.
"I think if you do that, you can put yourself in situations and get into a little bit of trouble," said Flynn. "I've always taken the approach to the game of being level-headed and being a calming influence. That's kind of my goal going into this game.
"I'm not going to try to do anything above and beyond what's necessary, so you don't want to put yourself in a situation where you're trying to make plays or trying to throw deep on them every time because you make mistakes. I'm just going to play my game and see what happens."
Since his original four-year stint in Green Bay as Aaron Rodgers' backup from 2008 to 2011, Flynn left Titletown via free agency for a lucrative contract from the Seattle Seahawks to potentially become their starting quarterback.
When Russell Wilson emerged as the future of the franchise, Flynn spent one season as his understudy in 2012 before being acquired by former Packers executive Reggie McKenzie, now the general manager of the Raiders, in the spring of 2013.
Once again thought to be a potential starter, Flynn fell out of favor as the Raiders went with Terrelle Pryor as their No. 1 quarterback and cut Flynn in October despite trading two draft choices to get him. Flynn, however, says he harbors no ill will.
"Maybe if I was a younger player in the league maybe it would be more difficult, but nothing surprises me in this league any more," said Flynn. "Nothing surprises me on the field, off the field, business. Whatever it is, I'm not surprised by anything. I think things roll off my shoulders a little bit faster than they probably used to. I don't think I'm going to have to worry about me being hot-headed or anything."
At midseason of 2013, Flynn later spent a short stint with the Buffalo Bills for less than a month and was similarly released.
It's been hypothesized that Flynn had been bothered by elbow tendonitis dating back to his time in Seattle, which had been the cause of some of his troubles, but as of re-signing with Green Bay in November of 2013, the quarterback denied it's an issue.
In Green Bay, he was treated as a savior. With the team's playoff hopes on the line, Flynn directed the Packers to two come-from-behind victories and a tie in five games, keeping the team alive until Rodgers returned.
Viewed as a reliable veteran with an intimate knowledge of the team's offense, the Packers are confident Flynn could carry the team through a rough patch, but they have to decide whether Scott Tolzien might be the better long-term prospect.
Flynn started the Packers' first preseason game at Tennessee, while Tolzien entered the second game against the Rams ahead of Flynn in the quarterback rotation.
As of Wednesday, all head coach Mike McCarthy would acknowledge was that Rodgers would play more than one series. He still hadn't formally decided on playing time or which quarterback would play with the second-string offense.
"I think opportunities will come. I expect that there will probably be some more in the next couple weeks," said Flynn. "You don't know what situation you'll be put in or what's going to happen, so you just go out there and try to execute what you can."
Not only does Flynn not know if he'll win the Packers' backup quarterback job, he doesn't know if they'll keep three quarterbacks on their roster either.
With so much certainty, all Flynn can do is try to play his best against his former team, the Raiders, on Friday and in the preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs next week and let the chips fall where they may.
"I focus on big-picture things," said Flynn. "I focus on trying to score points. I don't focus on, I got to get better at throwing this route or doing this or that. Playing quarterback involves a lot of things, so you think about a lot of things and you've got to think about getting yourself in the right situation, you've got to think about moving the chains and putting up some points."
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email email@example.com.
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