I've realized recently that very few things make me feel older than sports fandom these days. Sure, there's driving by my old high school every day and realizing that at one point in my life it was perfectly natural to look at those girls that way. That makes me feel pretty old. And, of course, there are the inexplicable pains that occur randomly in my body, as well as the fact that I rarely manage to close a bar these days. Those things certainly make me feel old. But sports fandom? That's a real exercise in agery.
You see, there was a time not long ago that I could just root for my team. That's it. Plain and simple. Those guys in the uniforms on the field. That's my team. And I root for them. If you are not on the field in a uniform you really don't matter to me. Those are my guys. Number 17? In the immortal words of snivelling TO, "That's my quarterback!"
But over the years, something has happened. A shift in the way I view my team. Over the years the ownership has somehow crept onto the field with the guys in the jerseys. The GM has become every bit as much of my team as my quarterback, my tight end, my wide receiver. And when it comes to this team, that is a bad thing. It's an unavoidable strain on my fandom. As much as I love that team-those guys on the field-, the guys that sit in the offices and think up ways to save their dough while taking ours, and that cowboy whose only real concern seems to be creating a powerful image for himself? They age my fandom a dozen years every day.
I don't want to be caught up in the business of football. There's too much business in my everyday business, and maybe that's the problem. These business men, who claim to want a championship but really only want a better deal and a new stadium, make me think too much of my own financial situation and of the men who have far too much control over my own fate. I don't want to think about my job and my bank account when I watch football, but these guys rub everybody's nose in it and give relatively little back in return. I don't blame the players for their holdouts. When my company told me I wasn't getting a raise I was pissed. Just because the amounts are magnified by millions, doesn't mean the heart of the problem isn't the same. Everybody wants to be paid for a job well done, and there's nothing wrong with that. And this GM reminds me of so many people who look at their labor force as a product of some infallible system that they put together. Everyone becomes replaceable in their eyes. I see this kind of attitude every day. Every fucking day! And I don't need to be reminded of that when I watch the games either.
All of that being said, it's not fair to put the burden of working for those ass holes on the players on the field. I love the Chargers. I have since the day I understood what football was, and I just want to enjoy the games. I've been hard on this team. And rightfully so. Their coach is terrible and they're slow out of the gate for the umpteenth time in a row. The window is closing. It's maddening! But I keep finding myself almost happy to see them fail. As if the men on the field have something to do with the shitty decisions made up front. Hell, it isn't even Norv's fault. What was he supposed to say when AJ came calling? "Nope. Sorry, but you could do way better than me. I don't want to be responsible for the demise of your franchise. Here's a list of guys you might want to call. They can all coach circles around me." Sorry, but I'd have taken the job if they asked, and we'd all hate me too.
"Hey coach, is this playbook just a printout of the Madden 06 Chargers playbook?"
"That team was awesome! And Madden won a Superbowl, I think. Now get out there and handle your business!"
Anyway, I guess my point in all of this is that I'm still going to hate on AJ and Dean. I'm still going to call out the spineless San Diego sports media. But I'm going to try to be more supportive of the guys on the field. I really do think this offense will be special once they hit their rythm. And I can honestly say that I'm not completely disgusted with what the defense has been doing. They're keeping the points down, and there is no more important defensive stat in my book. Which is, of course, the 06 Madden playbook. And as for special teams-which have been getting an awful lot of grief- I can only say that it's not likely to get a lot worse. So, come Sundays, I'm just going to try to put the business aside and root my face off for the team, cause we're winning the whole God damn thing this year! Go Philip! Go Antonio! Go rookie running back! Go...uh...Eric Weddle! Go Shaun "Paycheck McPlayingforit!" Phillips! Go Bolts!!!
Not you, though, Norv. You suck.