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Quick Inside Slant: Week 6

Impressions of the 2012 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.

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By: Dustin Fisher

Believe it or not even a team like the Cincinnati Bengals has fans and that #1 isn’t the total number they have. There is no real investigated reason why anybody is a fan of a team, they just are a fan or they’re not, it’s that simple.

Last week, the Kansas City Star didn’t print the word “Redskins” in their newspaper because of the racist nature behind the term. Bravo for taking a stand, Kansas City. I can respect that. This week, they cheered their own quarterback’s concussion because he wasn’t playing up to their standards. So it turns out your passion isn’t rooted in morality, it just exists out of boredom.

This came a day before the Monday Night football game, where Mike Tirico had to clarify that Jets fans were not booing the injury to Brian Cushing, but rather the return to the field of Marc Sanchez. As if that’s acceptable for fans to do. And I guess it is. After all, fans ultimately pay their salaries, right? They should get some say in who throws the ball and who gets traumatic brain injuries?

Fanhood

It’s been rather torturous watching the Eagles play over the last year and half. Even our wins are ugly and I never walk away feeling like we won, even when we do. Sundays are beginning to get more stressful than my quarterly review. That’s when I remembered that I’m not actually on the Eagles and I’m not bound in any significant way to the team. This was a bag of bricks that should be easy enough to set down. I don’t have to set aside time to go to a bar to watch the Eagles play the Lions this week. I can just watch whatever other game is on. Does that make me less of a fan? Of course it does. Do I care? Let me explain.

I am an Eagles fan living in Redskins territory. This is usually a non-issue as D.C. has both a very transient geography and a very underperforming football team. In addition to being an Eagles fan, however, I am also a rational human being. Root for whoever you want to root for and a little harmless trash talk is certainly appreciated. But please remember that football is just a show we watch on TV, like Breaking Bad or Modern Family. Last year, I was at the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure wearing an Eagles visor in memory of my father who died of lung cancer. A friend of my wife’s had just finished the race and was choking back tears while telling me a story about a father and his daughter running with matching T-shirts that read “For mommy” and “For my wife.” At the apex of that emotional moment, some passerby blurted out “Eagles suck!” directed at me in a crowd of over a million people. Seriously? Here? I retorted “So does cancer.”

I understand cheering for your team over another or else we wouldn’t have sports, but no one should ever be rooting for an injury the way they did in Kansas City on Sunday. And thanks to twitter, it’s become a lot easier to send public death threats, provided they don’t exceed 140 characters. Kyle Williams received more than a few after his muffed punts in the NFC Championship game last year. Nothing malicious or mean, simply a mistake performed on the job. It’s easy to forget sometimes that these icons and jerseys we root for have people behind them. People with feelings and heartbeats and problems just like you. Does the waiter at the local Olive Garden deserve to have someone threaten to kill his wife and daughter just because he dropped your bread sticks?

This is fanhood. A Grand Canyon-sized crevice in otherwise rational people’s thought processes. Or a normal-sized flat plain in a land of idiots. And I fall into it just as much as everybody else. “Nice Cowboys hat. Are you from Texas?… No!?… Well then explain why you’re a Cowboys fan and if I don’t like it, I’m going to unfairly judge you for being less of a person than me.” What makes me better than you for rooting for the team from my local area? If anything, I should be rooting for a team that I admire for some other logical reason. More community service work, an interesting defensive scheme, shinier helmets. Loyalty to a team just because I was born close to their stadium is the antithesis of creativity. I should really be rooting for other things anyway. Like Detroit to finally win a playoff game. The failure of Eli Manning, Rex Ryan and Phillip Rivers is always fun. Or for Houston or Atlanta to go undefeated this year so we can finally put to bed that damn ‘72 Dolphins tradition of celebrating the week that the last undefeated team loses. It’s the most conceited and egotistical tradition in all of sports. Instead, I’m confined to root for a horrific-looking 3-2 team that was possibly the most underachieving team of all time last year. And yet, I still do. Because I’m too scared to admit my theory to a society that isn’t ready for it. That said, E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Nay, fantasy dud of the season. CJ2sucK’s yards per carry can no longer be measured in inches, but his approach to the line of scrimmage can. I vaguely remember him complaining about a contract last year just before he started tiptoeing into contact and complaining about his offensive linemen.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Everything San Fran, especially if they play the AFC East. They have a player in the top 10 for the season in all six scoring positions from quarterback to defense. They won the last two games 79-3. It may have taken seven years, but maybe drafting Alex Smith before Aaron Rodgers doesn’t look so stupid now.

Flip-flop of the Week: Roger Goodell has no idea what he’s doing. He allows Sean Payton and the other suspended coach-types in the Superdome to watch Drew Brees break Unitas’ record. If I was San Diego, I’d be crying foul. Then he decides to reissue the same penalties (mostly) that were overturned in arbitration. Kinda like when the UN told Bush he wasn’t allowed to invade Iraq and he did it anyway. BUT, Vilma is allowed to get paid for the games he’s suspended for as long as he’s still unable to play. Que? So when he gets healthy again, he won’t be able to play and he won’t get paid? I’ve been called out by 11-year olds for making up stuff less ridiculous than this in day camp.

Great story of the Week: Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia last week and is in a hospital seeking treatment. In a class act, players and coaches from both Indianapolis and Green Bay wore “Chuck Strong” t-shirts. Then the Colts, led by a rookie quarterback against last year’s MVP, overcame an 18 point halftime deficit to win the game, the largest lead overcome by the Colts in the Superbowl era. Sure, it’s ultimately just a game and for some, a job. But when trying to beat cancer, anything that can lift spirits is welcome and I’m sure having that game ball driven down the road after the win was quite a lift for Chuck considering what he’ll be going through for the foreseeable future. Congrats to the Colts and to Green Bay for reminding us that there’s more to life than just football. Hopefully the Kansas City fans who cheered Matt Cassel’s concussion and the tweeters who vowed vengeance on Kyle Williams were watching and remember that moment the next time they feel compelled to get so upset over the unfortunate bounce of a ball.

Other Notes from Week Five:

  • Trey Wingo said the Saints’ win was critical because no one had ever started 0-5 and made the playoffs, whereas one team started 0-4 and made it. Oh, that’s why it’s critical that the 13-3 team from last year breaks their 4-game losing streak? Because now they can still make the playoffs since it’s been done once before? Oh, Trey.
  • Brandon Jacobs is upset with his role on the 49ers. No kidding. Ed Norton was upset with his role in The Avengers. “Fine. You don’t have to be in the highest grossing movie ever.” Just shut up and be happy you’re on the payroll or else you’ll be competing with Mark Ruffalo for time on the practice squad.
  • Minnesota is 4-1. Did anybody else know that?

Prediction for Week Six: Cam Newton will sulk about not being allowed to play football on his bye week.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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