This week’s RE: Culture comes from a gut reaction I felt upon realizing how awesome I think one of my team’s players is. Guess the team & the player!
I’m a fan of the New York Football Jets, and while I haven’t been a fan for long (only since 2008!) I have determined that they are my football TEAM.
See, before a few years ago, I didn’t like football teams as teams; I liked teams because of their players, something I’ve been doing my whole life. As a little kid in the 90′s, my favorite football team was the Miami Dan Marinos; mostly, I’m ashamed to say, because of the fact that to a 5- year-old he looks strikingly similar to David Hasselhoff who was in “Knight Rider”, one of my favorite TV shows. Anyway, I supported Dan Marino for the rest of his career, only learning the name of one other person on the team – Ricky Williams – who I knew was solely responsible for every loss the team suffered because he did drugs and was a “bad guy”.
Eventually Dan Marino retired and I resolved to not repeat my prior mistake of rooting for a guy that had Ricky Williams on his team, so I became a Brett Favre fan. I can’t even remember anyone else on the Packers’ Super Bowl team, but hey: it was Brett Favre’s doing, so why should I care? I had a Packers hat & jacket, but my support was for Brett. When Brett decided he was going to retire, I was worried. I had no other QB to root for! But then, hurray, Brett decided he was just kidding about retiring, and called up Green Bay so they could sign him back up!
But they didn’t.
From that moment on, I hated the Green Bay Packers, a hatred that I had previously reserved for only two other teams: The New England Patriots and…. The New York Jets. Where did Brett go after Green Bay? Yep. The New York Jets. It took a lot out of me to follow him there, but follow him I did, for the one year he was there. He wasn’t awful with the Jets, playing quite well in the first half of the season, only to melt down in the second. But I was tired of having to deal with Favre’s constant retiring/not retiring shenanigans. So, while I rooted for Favre on the Vikings, I decided to hedge my bets and follow the Jets too. I found out that they, like my baseball team the Red Sox (initially because I hated the Yankees, now because I love the Red Sox), had some success early in their franchise history…. followed by a long stretch of almosts and not quites. They were also underdogs in a decidedly Giants-leaning metro area. I liked that. That season they hired a new, boisterous Head Coach and had a rookie QB starting for them, but their defense was awesome.
I realized that watching the QB was pretty boring compared to watching the whole team play. This was a revelation! I learned the names of the players, I read stats, I bought in. I rise and fall with Jets now. But don’t feel bad for me; football season has had new importance to me since I started caring more about the team as a whole, rather than merely specific players. I do still have my favorites: Center Nick Mangold, WR Jeremy Kerley, and pretty much our whole defensive line. There are people I like less as well (I try not mention them because they’re on my team too).
What I don’t have anymore are Heroes.
Brett Favre is a perv; Dan Marino had an affair; Michael Jordan (yeah, I was a Jordan fan too) is a jerk in so many ways I can’t enumerate them; Curt Schilling is a crony capitalist and Hulk Hogan… Well, I won’t even get into Hulk Hogan’s issues.
So please, cheer for your team because it’s the team you stand for, not just because of “Fan Favorites” like Tim Tebow or Ron Paul, or stars like Dan Marino or Ted Cruz.
Root for the team overall; because while busts like Ricky Williams & Todd Akin will happen, knowing your team and their roster make them less likely. Plus, YOU get to choose who we draft each year!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t cheer extra loudly for certain guys on your team; you absolutely should. I just want you to also remember WHY you’re cheering. And I didn’t write this to chastise the conservative “fanbase” I belong to either.
Rather, I wrote it because watching Ted Cruz destroy the left on Capitol Hill almost made ME forget.
What I’ve seen from him has made me cheer, and continue to cheer I will. But for our team, not our stars.