Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I Need To Commit. Now.
Oh, baby! Football is close.
I am a sports fan that grew up in Utah. As such, I am subject to a particular dynamic that is pretty universal among my kind. The following is generally true for all sports fans that are products of the crossroads of west and the valleys of the everlasting hills.
We live and die with the Jazz and therefore we also really care about the rest of the NBA. And we live and die with either Utah or BYU football (and despise the other) and therefore we really care about the rest of College Football. But we don't have an inherited NFL or MLB team to which we devote our lives. As a result, we still watch the NFL and MLB, but not nearly as intensely as the NBA or College Football. Most of us pick a team, but there's usually a pretty random reason behind it. Therefore, we don't love that team with the same ferocity that we feel toward our home grown teams. Those teams are not an extension of our identity the way the Jazz and Cougars/Utes are. And as a result, the affect of following them, isn't quite as intense.
For example, I consider myself a pretty damn big Red Sox fan. I first started really caring about them in '99 when Pedro pitched game five against the Indians and they would go on to lose to the dirty ass Yankees in the ALCS. But I made the commitment at that time, that I was going to be a Red Sox guy. They were going to be my team and for the rest of my life and I would never get to change my mind.
Why did I decide to sell my soul to Boston? Did I have any personal interaction with the city of Boston before hand? No. Did I have a favorite player on that team? Sort of. But that wasn't the main reason behind the decision. If I'm honest about it, one of the main reason behind my picking the Red Sox as my team was this; I liked their hat. I wanted a hat that I could wear around that not many other people had. A signature that had a classic appeal but still wasn't cliched. In '99, no one wore a Red Sox hat in Utah. And there is also the fact that it has a "B" on it and my name is Brian. Pretty stupid reason to like a team, isn't it? If my name was Cornelius, I just may be an avid Cubs fan. But the decision was made and I never looked back.
And yet, I have never really clicked with any NFL team. There are teams I like and teams I hate. And make no mistake about it, I love the NFL. Football is without question my favorite sport. But I seem to get my fill of competitive fury with College Football and end up following the NFL much more casually. As long as a couple of teams I hate don't win, I'm fine with whatever. I enjoyed the hell out of last year's Superbowl. But I truly didn't care whether Pittsburgh or Arizona won. And as a result, I miss out on the full experience.
So I'm changing that, damn it. Time to commit. I going to make rash decision that will forever affect my sports watching life. I just changed over to Direct TV and I have the Sunday Ticket, in which I get every single NFL game broadcast in glorious HD. It would be a waste to watch this with a "I just want to see a good game" approach. So I have to commit to a team, right now. Pick one and go with it. Watch every game of the season, get my hopes built up and then quickly dashed. You know, the full sports fan package.
The question is, which team to select. Pardon me while I rip off Bill Simmons. Let's break it down.
- The first category are the teams that are easily off the table, due to their inherent evilness.
Dallas. I hate the damn Cowboys and I always have. America's team, my ass. I don't remember voting for them. I hated the Dallas teams of the 90's and nothing gives me more joy than to watch them fail every single year. Tony Romo is a pussy.
Denver. The city of Denver always tries to promote their crappy sports in Utah, as if we should like them based entirely on our geographic proximity. I have always resented this. Get your damn Rockies games off my TV. Also, I always hated Elway and his big teeth and mullet. I'm not sure why. Seems like a nice enough guy. But even though Denver beating Green Bay in '98 was one of the best Super Bowls ever, I still wish he had never won a title. I just loved watching him lose. So, no to Denver.
Oakland. Hell no. I'm not a Raider fan. I don't smoke meth, or beat my wife, or drive a giant, loud truck. Also I believe an NFL game and Halloween should be separate events. Raider fans aren't charming. They're obnoxious.
Jets or Giants. As a rule, I hate all New York based sports teams. Considering that every fan at Giant Stadium owns a Yankee hat, I figure it's a safe rule to have. In fact, even though you couldn't get further away from NYC culturally than Buffalo, this rule also applies to the Bills. So they're out too. It may not be fair, but it's how it is.
Baltimore. The 2000 Superbowl was the most unwatchable display of crap I have ever witnessed. A low scoring blowout. And let me make this clear. It was all due to Kerry Collins' crappiness, not the Ravens' endlessly overrated defense. Also Ray Lewis is a contemptuous cock sucker with a really stupid dance. I am not fan of Terrell Owens, but when he mocked Lewis' stupid dance, that might have been his greatest moment in his life. Seriously, Owens really should have retired immediately after that play and just disappeared. Yeah, Baltimore is definitely out.
- The next list of teams are out due to their trendiness. They're the easy picks and I'm going for something a little more original.
Pittsburgh. I've always liked the Steelers. I was routing for Arizona last year but I was okay with the Steelers winning the Superbowl. But because the won it, I can't pick them. Otherwise I would be no different than all the frauds who wore Bulls shirts back in '93. Even if I stick with them over the years, my devotion would be forever tainted. And taint is something I generally try to avoid.
Arizona. It's a shame really, since I quite like them. But I can't decide to become a die hard Cardinal fan the year after their break out season. It doesn't work that way. If I had picked them a year ago, I would be in the clear. But that window is closed.
Minnesota or Green Bay. Brett Favre ruins either of these choices for me. I have never seen a sports icon that was so universally beloved act like such an oblivious, selfish ass and thereby ruin his legacy. I'm certainly interested in the Viking / Packer rivalry this year. I really don't like Favre at all anymore and would love to see Green Bay stick it to him. I would love to see him fall on his 40 year old ass and average six interceptions a game. But there's a spiteful little part of me that would also like to see Favre go deep in the playoffs and screw over the franchise and fans that created him. It'll be a good show either way. But one that I plan on enjoying from a casual distance.
San Francisco. Why would the Niners be a trendy pick, considering they haven't been worth a crap since '02? Because the two most successful pro players from each of our local colleges played there. Tons of BYU fans loved the Niners in the 80's and 90's because our hero Steve Young was the man. Currently, there are a fair amount of Ute fans that follow them because of Alex Smith, who by the way is a massive, massive bust. I don't care how bad his O Line has been. For being the number one overall pick, he has to be considered a Ryan Leaf level flop. (Bitter Cougar fan speaking.) Outside of Denver, I would say than the Niners have the biggest following in Utah. As a result of that, Niners are out.
Philadelphia. This one kind of hurts me to eliminate, but I'm going to do it anyway. Again, due to a lot of BYU influence, there is a lot of Eagles fans in Utah. Coach Boyardee is a BYU grad and they usually have a couple of players from the state of Utah and that makes them easy to like. They're also a really good team, that is always close to winning it all but never close enough. That makes cheering for them a righteous cause. But, I still can't bring myself to declare my unwavering devotion. It just feels too easy.
New England. Given my affection for the Red Sox, it makes sense for me to be a Patriots fan. But you can't wait for a team to win three Super Bowls and then decide that they were your favorite team all along. I may not have any integrity in regular life, but as a sports fan I am impeccable. No to the Pats.
Chicago. I'm not sure what it is about the Bears that makes people love them so damn much. They haven't been good since '85. Even when they went to the Super Bowl a few years ago, most people were happy to admit it was a fluke. They haven't had one quarterback that didn't suck ass since Jim McMahon. By the way, not enough headbands being worn around the neck, these days. And yet, they have a devout following that is very strong outside of Chicago. Was the Super Bowl shuffle really that cool? The answer is yes. Yes, it was. But I can't pick the Bears because I'm really hoping Jay Cutler crashes and burns this year. That's gonna be sweet.
- The next list of teams are canceled out due to their perennial suckiness and or lameness. I may not be cherry picking a winner here, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna waste my time on a crappy franchise that has no character, identity or hope.
Jacksonville / Houston / Carolina. I know each of these teams have been around for a while but expansion teams just aren't real. They don't count. Even when Carolina went to the Super Bowl, they still didn't count. Does anyone consider the Florida Marlins a legitimate baseball franchise? Of course not. No matter how many World Series they win, they're an impostor. I know Houston had the Oilers for years and years, so they are a town that deserves a real football team. But they don't have one. Just a football equivalent of Pinocchio. If they changed the name from the Texans to the Oilers and went back to the classic uniforms (I have no idea why they didn't do this to begin with) then the Texans would become a real boy. Just like the Browns. But they don't. So they remain a fake team.
Tampa Bay. There's nothing really sucky about the Bucs and I know they've been in the NFL for like 30 years. But they still feel like one of the fake expansion teams to me. Yeah, they won a Super Bowl a few years ago. But who gives a crap. Maybe if they also went back to their original uniforms. Those were sweet.
Atlanta. I realize that the Falcons should have a pretty good year. And given their quick recovery from the Michael Vick fiasco, they're easy to cheer for. But I have a gripe with the Falcons. In 1999, the Falcons beat Steve Young's Niners in a fluke of a game. They then squeaked by Randall Cunningham and the Vikings in the NFC title game and ended up going to the Super Bowl. They screwed everything up. That year was supposed to be Young vs Elway or Cunningham vs Elway in a classic Superbowl for the ages. But instead we got Chris Friggin Chandler and the stupid Dirty Bird dance. The Falcons absolutely sucked in that game. They were destroyed by the Broncos in an unwatchable game and were exposed as the frauds that they were all along. So screw Atlanta. Their fans are terrible anyway.
Kansas City. What a crappy team. Other than serving as the nursing home for Joe Montana's career, what have the Chiefs ever done? Seriously, the highlight of the entire franchise is Christian Okoye getting his ass blown the hell up by Steve Atwater on Monday Night. And they were on the losing end of that. They haven't made a playoff run that I can remember. The closest thing I can come up with was five or six years ago when they had the home field advantage against the Colts and Peyton Manning destroyed them. But they have never really been the bottom feeder either. They've been around since the AFL merger in 1970 and yet they don't have one iconic player. At least Detroit has Barry Sanders. Who does KC have? Elvis Grbac? They don't even suck enough to matter. The Chiefs are invisible.
St Louis. Meh. I don't hate them, I don't like them. And I don't see that changing.
Tennessee. Same as above. Funny that I have no feelings at all about the two teams that gave us the best Superbowl ending of all time (suck it, Dyson). Except possibly this latest Superbowl. That was a damn good one too.
Cincinnati. I just don't see myself cheering for an overrated asshole of a player whose legal last name is "Ocho Cinco". No matter how cool their helmets are.
Miami. They're a classic team with a devoted fan base that may have a break out year. This would be a good time to jump on board. But I can't. Perhaps for the lamest reason possible. But I maintain it is a legitimate reason. They have gay colors. Turquoise and orange. Totally gay. Nope. I can't cheer for a team whose uniforms make me want to eat an Otter Pop. The fact is, when you devote yourself to a team you are also committing to own at least one article of clothing displaying that devotion. Miami's colors can look good on some people. But I don't think I can pull off that look.
-Here are the teams on the short list. They are not finalists. But with some reconsideration, they could make the jump.
Washington. Possibly. They are a classic franchise that hasn't done shit in decades. They probably won't have any kind of breakout season, so I can't be accused of bandwagon hopping. They're in the NFC East, which is one of the most compelling divisions in football. And their mascot is indefensibly racist. This isn't the Utes, or the Seminoles. They are the Redskins, for hell sake. I could be mistaken but I'm pretty sure they were originally "The Drunken, Lazy, Slow Speaking, Black Jack Dealing Redskins" but were forced to shorten it years ago for commercial reasons. Look, I'm not a proponent of American Indian oppression by any stretch. But I do enjoy absurdity. And it doesn't get more absurd than the football team's mascot of our nation's capitol being a slur. So this remains a possibility.
New Orleans. I could see this, as well. A crappy team that has recently developed an identity. And I really like Drew Brees. But, there is a descent chance that this franchise will move to LA within the next five years. And I can never, ever cheer for an LA franchise, due to the Laker factor. I can't cheer for a team that every asshole Laker fan also likes. I won't allow for the possibility for any kind of common ground to exist. So I will act preemptively and say no to the Saints.
Cleveland. There's something charming about a down-on-your-luck football team. Poor Cleveland. Their teams suck so bad. All of them. LeBron or not. They had the Browns forever and were fiercely loyal. But to no avail. Elway screwed them. Then the team moved to Baltimore (the only city in America shittier than Cleveland) where they promptly won a Super Bowl. It isn't right. And for some reason, I really like the orange and brown uniform combination. It feels gritty. Nothing slick and pretty about this team at all. It's all busted fingers and broken noses. But I'm not sure I have the charity to really commit myself to the Browns. Also, Brady Quinn is little bitch. So it's hard to get with a team when you already hate their quarterback. I feel like I'm rejecting a nice and pathetic kid selling me magazine subscriptions door to door. It's a polite no. But I wish them all the luck in the world.
- The Finalists.
Indianapolis. This could have been canceled out under the trendy category. I have always loosely associated myself with the Colts. But I could never honestly call myself a Colts fan. When they finally won the Superbowl, I didn't really care. I still route for them. Perhaps I need to just overtly decide that they are my team and make myself care. Like the really nice girl that's cute enough and clearly likes you. They don't blow you away. (I said "away". Relax.) But you eventually just say "Alright, fine. Let's give this a shot." But instead, I'm going to do to the Colts what I do to the nice girl. Pick out a superficial flaw that I would overlook in someone else and use that as a basis to cancel them out. The downside to the Colts, is that they play indoors. I know it shouldn't matter but it totally does. Football is an outdoor sport. If the Packers can play at Lambeau Field in January, the Colts can play outdoors in Indianapolis. I don't care if they are faster on turf. I want a real football team that isn't scared of grass stains. But they just built their new monstrosity, so that's not gonna change. These things factor into such life long decisions.
Seattle. Also a strong possibility. I have always been a bit of a Seahawk fan, dating back to the Jim Zorn, Steve Largent days. (Love that face mask.) My dad grew up in Seattle and I have always identified with that town. It wouldn't be a huge shift to really commit to them. They have a great home stadium and really cool looking uni's. It's also close enough to Utah, that I can make a trip for a game every year. And contrary to popular belief, Seattle in October is gorgeous. Yeah. I can see this one working.
San Diego. The biggest advantage of of going with the Chargers would be the ability to reference Ron Burgundy when talking about my team. "A Whale's Vagina". Classy. Also, they're in the same division as the Broncos and the Raiders, two teams I already hate. So that's a plus. However, there is a geographical closeness to LA to consider. I imagine most LA residence (filthy Laker fans every one of them) probably like the Chargers as well. That damn Laker factor. If I'm willing to cancel out New Orleans based on a rumor about LA, should I really consider the team of LA's little brother? But then again, it's also close enough to Utah, that I can make a trip for a game. As nice as Seattle is October, San Diego in November is probably better. Hhhmm. Things to consider. . .
I need to make this decision within the next few weeks. I would welcome any input. I'm leaning toward the three finalists, but I'm not committed either way. So I can be persuaded. Feel free to tell me what you think. Unless you just want to tell how awesome the Cowboys are. Seriously. If that's all you have to say, go to hell.