Arizona Wildcats receiver Trey Griffey was feeling down Saturday night. The offense had been out-played, again, by the defense in practice.
Coach Rich Rodriguez, frustration boiling over, refused to let any offensive player speak to the media.
After dinner and meetings, Griffey called his father via FaceTime.
By contrast, his dad was having a spectacular night. Ken Griffey Jr., in a moving ceremony at Safeco Field, had been inducted into the Seattle Mariners’ Hall of Fame, cementing the love affair between the city and one of baseball’s all-time greats.
The first topic of conversation?
Junior: “How did you do?”
Trey, a redshirt freshman, replied that he did just all right, and dad followed up with more questions about what had gone wrong in practice, probing for the kind of details that parents always want.
“He was just like a normal parent would be,” Trey said. “He was concerned about what I did and my day.”
Eventually, the talked turned to the part of the Griffey night that wasn’t normal at all — the ceremony and celebration at Safeco. Disappointed that he couldn’t be there because of his football obligations, Trey still wanted to do something to honor his father.
He said Molly O’Mara, who handles football for the athletic department’s communication services department, last week suggested making a video. Trey recorded a piece to play on the Safeco videoboard during the ceremony.
He planned out words to say, but O’Mara recommended a different course.
“She was like, ‘Just speak from the heart,’” Trey said.
So he did, for about 40 seconds.
“As I was growing up, I just wanted to be just like you,” Trey said in the video. “You were my role model. But I took another road and went into football. But I can’t be more proud of you. You did it. Next time I see you, we’re going to celebrate. Bear Down. Hi, mom.”
It was enough to bring Junior to tears. (You can watch Trey in the video below, starting just before the 27-minute mark.)
“My mom said it surprised him. He doesn’t really like surprises,” Trey said. “He said he was going to get me back for making him cry.”
Trey did take a different athletic path than his dad, but receivers coach Tony Dews said he can see where the son might have inherited some of that great hand-eye coordination.
“Trey is coming along and doing well,” Dews said.
“He’s not making very many mental errors anymore. He’s doing a really good job, assignment-wise. His hands have continued to develop, although he already had good ball skills coming in.
“You continue to see signs that, man, we’ve got a guy who can catch the ball no matter where you throw it. He snags the ball.”
Coaches say Trey (6-3, 190) is like dear ol’ dad in another regard: He’s a hard worker. He expects no favors, no special treatment. That goes back to good parenting.
The Griffeys are frequent visitors to Tucson but aren’t helicopter parents.
“They’re hands-off,” Dews said.
“All they ask is, ‘How’s he’s doing?’ and “Is he doing what you ask?’ I say, ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘Yes, ma’am’ and they leave it alone. They understand what coaches do.”
Even in what has become a thin receiving corps, there is no guarantee that Griffey has a spot in the rotation.
“Trey is an athletic guy and it’s important to him,” Rodriguez said.
“Sometimes he shows inexperience, but he really competes. He has a big frame and he runs really well and he makes some unbelievable catches. He just needs to be more consistent. Just like any young guy.”
Whether it’s sooner or later, big things appear possible for Trey.
That first touchdown catch might really make Junior cry tears of joy.