“Omaha! Omaha! Omaha!” That was the battle cry of glory I thought I would be celebrating to this past Sunday. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” was all I could think during the entire game.
It was a disaster from the start. From the first play of the game that resulted in a high-snap safety, to a pick-six interception, to the third quarter kick return for a touchdown, it all added up to a looming final score of 43-8.
Despite the outcome of the game not being in my favor (huge hint I’m a Broncos’ fan), I was able to take away a positive silver lining from the cloud over MetLife: fanhood is a fickle friend and is in fact an art.
Whether you’re a fan of the hometown Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins or teams anywhere else (like me – Broncos, Cavaliers), what goes into being a fan never changes. You sport that jersey the day after a tragic loss, knowing there’s another shot next week/year. You get butterflies on opening day, even when playoff hopes are just about as likely as Brett Favre’s retirement. It’s all generated by the thrill of the hunt. The team could be a shoo-in to win it all any given year and there could be an ever-so-slight sliver of hope that they even make the playoffs. No matter what the odds, a true fan remains loyal until the very end.
There are then certain personnel of different teams that make fanhood so unique to that organization. Patriots’ fans who are so used to success in this current era will find themselves in an interesting position when the careers of Brady and Belichick come to an end in Foxboro. Will there be nearly as many Miami Heat fans when LeBron is gone? Will he re-sign with Cleveland? If he does will they forgive him after burning jerseys in the streets? These players and coaches add interesting dynamics to fans of both good and bad franchises. A bottom of the barrel non-contender can have a shot at the title with the acceptance of one trade or inability to pay a player their desired salary.
Because of this, fans are often put in misjudged situations when these types of dynamic changes occur. As a fan of both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Broncos I can’t tell you how many times I’m immediately asked, “Are you a Broncos’ fan or a Peyton fan?” or “Are you a Heat fan now?” A person’s fanhood should never be in question just because of the player(s) their team acquires. It’s unnecessary to hold a grudge against a player, but changing teams to follow one is never an option.
So, there are obviously franchises that do well year in and year out, but the unsung heroes of the fanhood world are the ones who haven’t seen the playoffs in years (Bills, Browns, Raiders, Timberwolves, Royals, Jays, Mariners, Marlins) or ever had a chance at a title (Jaguars, Texans, Clippers, Nuggets, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Raptors, Grizzlies, Bobcats, Nationals, Mariners).
The integrity it takes to stand by your team through over a decade of not even being in a playoff game is as dedicated as it gets and is a huge testament to the character of these fan bases.
Orange and Blue. Wine and Gold. Green. Red and White.
No matter what the colors on the jersey are, the code of fanhood stays the same. Represent what you love. One player doesn’t dictate the success of your team and any given year any given team can defy the odds. Stay just as hungry as if you were on the field/court yourself, and most of all, have fun doing it. The art of being a fan isn’t always beautiful, but everyone must experience “blue periods” before they are graced by the masterpieces.