What a vexing Championship Conference weekend. Going into this season, I would have assumed I cared about the San Diego Chargers and New York Giants not at all. They're both interesting teams to me for various reasons, but I really had no reason to care whether they succeeded or failed this season. And yet, because they're playing the Randy Moss-led 17-0 Patriots and the border rival Green Bay Packers, I'm going into the penultimate football weekend desperately rooting for the Chargers and Giants. And if either the Chargers and Giants do pull of an upset, they'll always have a place in my heart.
Actually, I've always sort of like Eli Manning for some reason (I think I like that his attitude appears calm and uncaring, and that he like Seinfeld only sweetens the deal), and Plaxico Burress can be one of the most exciting players in the game (he's a deep threat capable of spectacular catches). But I've soured on a lot of the Charger players I used to like because of fantasy football. As Ladanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates haven't been on my team for a few years, I follow most Charger games hoping neither Tomlinson nor Gates score. And now I find myself not quite capable of "rooting" for them. Such is (completely made up fantasy) life.
But I'm not expecting any real joy from football this weekend.
It's not Boston fans in particular.
Though I've complained a lot about the overdose of pleasure Boston sports fans are getting, it's not because I have anything against Boston sports fans in particular (I don't think). It just shatters me to see one city with five championships in one decade (and likely going on six, and we're still waiting to see what the Celtics do in the playoffs). When cities like Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Diego, etc., have gone such a long time with no championships, it disrupts any hope I have for balance in the universe when one city gets so much (and the city with a 16-time NBA champ, remember). Of course, I don't really believe there's justice in this world, and if I were really going to complain about a lack of karmic equality in this universe, I would probably focus on all the atrocities in human history and not even mention sports. But being a sports fan is not entirely rational--my inner sense of justice is disrupted nonetheless.
If this happened for a different region, I think I'd feel the same. Let's talk about "City X" (I was actually going to use a specific example, but I didn't want to make any fans feel jinxed, or make them writhe in horror as I "imagined" they had won all sorts of championships). If City X had a pro football team that won three Super Bowls recently and was currently undefeated, and a pro baseball team that won two World Series recently, and a pro basketball team that had the best record in the NBA, I think I'd resent City X's fans no matter what. Even moreso if City X's teams were succeeding with former Minnesota stars that never brought a title here (not through their own fault). And if ESPN.com's most popular columnist was a City X fan, and got to write columns taking cheapshots at all the teams and players he didn't like, and got to write about how special it was to be a fan in City X, and got to write about just how great City X's teams are, well, that would certainly contribute to the resentment.
Patrick Reusse talks to Wally Hilgenberg. In a world filled with suffering, we look for a redeeming meaning. It appears Hilgenberg has found it. You can also read about him at Viking Update.
Viking fans interested in re-living old memories can check out the Nosebleeds. Lately I've been thinking of a line from The Graduate, when Elaine says to Benjamin, "Do you just hate everything?" Why does that line keep coming into my head. Do you just hate everything?
At Epic Carnival, What was that bang? continues to preview the NFL playoffs by telling us which fans to root for.
Lots of people are looking out for Eli, making sure he gets his Seinfeld (Fanhouse).
The Big Lead notes a lack of diversity at some sports websites.
These are dark sports days, my Minnesota friends. Dark days indeed. Try to make the best of this utterly freezing weekend.
We're on our way to the liberation of our weekends. This weekend there are no Saturday games for the first time in a while, and next weekend we get a practice "non-football weekend" before the Super Bowl. I'm really looking forward to it: football is wonderful, of course, but its presence in life can sometimes feel oppressive. I'm looking forward to liberated weekends, and so should you.