It’s halfway through the fantasy football season, and I’m choking in Mike Vanderjagt-esque fashion. To make matters worse, the Colts are wearing their testicle helmets for some reason and Austin Collie just got his skull knocked off.
It’s become an annual early-November tradition for me to hit a wall and lose all my faith in sports. There’s no baseball on TV to distract from the elections, and any positive information that might be on the news is buried in a pile of pundits arguing about the influence of a party that stands for bed-wetting. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, I find it refreshing to count our Colt-blessings while they last; Manning is very quietly getting old.
It wasn’t so many years ago that the boys in blue were winning two games a year and the regular season actually meant something. For the last decade weeks 1-17 have been a four-month battle for home field advantage, which is both a blessing and a curse. The regular season games have a lot less weight, and therefore, are a little less exciting to watch. So when a punter goes swimming in the canal—and let’s be honest, 99% of the city has thought about it, or at the very least dared someone to do it—we need to embrace the action.
When you take a couple of steps back and think about every other franchise, it’s hard to imagine a better hometown team to cheer for. The front office makes great choices. We have a perfect stadium in a safe area. Our team is always “still in it.” And they don’t dominate so often that it’s infuriating to see them lose.
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, or just a dime-a-dozen contrarian, but I can never stand to cheer for Goliath. I’ve never understood how so many people are able to jump on board to a Yankees or a Lakers or an Ohio State bandwagon where anything less than a championship is disappointing. Sure it's heartbreaking when they lose, but we're not such a beligerent beast of a fan-base that we feel an arrogant sense of entitlement to every call and every lucky bounce. Indianapolis fans expect a Superbowl every year—and with good reason—but it’s not to the point where we take no satisfaction in a good playoff run or a great come-from-behind win in week two.
Perhaps it’s not coincidental that they’re playing the Eagles today, a team whose fan-base is notorious for negativity and general nastiness. (See: booing a call for unnecessary roughness while there’s an unconscious player lying motionless on the field). But the NFL is getting more and more obnoxious each season. Talks of an 18-game season are maddening for a baseball fan whose allegiance to the sport of football hangs on the threads of a local franchise and the annual fun of the fantasy draft. The arrogance of the league itself and the people who get paid to mindlessly talk about it is close to sending me over the edge—especially if there’s a lockout in 2012.
If the Monday Night Football commentators say “National Football League” instead of “NFL” 20,000 more times I will swear it off for good and punt a football through Jawaroski’s head. Never has an acronym been so pretentiously and unnecessarily expounded.
So having a team in town that has put a competitive team on the field for every week of my entire adult life (while fielding a roster of players that has neither drunkenly mowed down the citizens of the city that hosts them after a long night of beating up strippers) has been tantamount to my interest in the sport. The people that play it are—after all—much more successful versions of most of our high school arch-enemies.
I don’t think I’m a needy fan, but I have been spoiled by the Colts success. I need to remind myself once a year or so—on a night like this when they’re playing terrible and Phil Simms is acting like an asshole—that we’ve got it pretty good with the Colts. Just be competitive once every couple years and don’t murder anyone in the city I love, and I’ll keep cheering. I won’t pay $130 for a ticket, but I’ll keep cheering, for whatever that’s worth.
I wish the standards of success for my job were as lenient—be competitive once every couple of years and don’t murder anyone. But until then, I’ll raise a glass:
To Pat McAfee and his willingness to drunkenly do what no one else in this city has the guts to.
To Peyton Manning and gettin’ busy with the Channel 8 News girl.
To Jim Irsay for being the beautiful emotionally detached bastard he is.