Editorial: The ugly side of NFL fandom

The downsides of having a rabid fan base are interesting, to say the least as Carlos from RaiderRamble explains in his “Editorial” debut.

Being a fan of any sport at any given moment can be such a sad experience; the lows are low, and the highs provide us with a fix. Other than organized religion, there isn’t something else that unites people as tightly as sports as they create a feeling of camaraderie. You can go to any place and immediately belong if you root for the local team. It does not matter where you are from or what language you speak; you will fit just fine.

Sports mostly unite people, but now and then, they can get the worst out of us. It is not an easy balance, and it is sometimes easy to get caught up in the moment and react in either the worst possible way or the most embarrassing one (possibly both).

I firmly believe in living life with passion just like I don’t care for words such as “dull” and “bland.” Passion and intensity can help us achieve our goal and make our lives way more attractive. However, if these emotions aren’t channeled correctly, they can take a toll on other people.

I understand why fans get so emotional; they root for a team, buy official merchandise and travel around the globe to see their favorite players. Heck, some don’t mind paying the premium to go to an exhibition game to see franchise players talk to each other and others that might be cut as soon as the whistle is over. Nothing beats seeing our favorite team win a championship and makes all the time and liquidity spent worth it.

Because fans devote so much to their team of preference, they have the right to discuss the movements the team makes and be unhappy when the team doesn’t give results. They’re investing many things; so they want to see some return. However, sometimes they demand things that just aren’t plausible.

The Oakland Raiders signing Megatron is the first one that comes to mind (because a comment he made to the Italian press); there is always somebody from the crowd clamoring for the team to sign every single player that is either a free-agent or is released. It’s happening with Megatron, happened with Jeremy Maclin and has happened endless times. At this rate, one Raiders fan will want the Raiders to sign Tom Brady to be Derek Carr’s backup because he said he once ate a hot dog at Oakland Colosseum (he has never said that).

Players and sports executives are under a lot of scrutiny; it is logical as it’s part of their job description. They are paid millions to deliver results; some of them might not give them, so it is entirely reasonable to let them go. What it is not right is to question every single move they make or don’t make.

Oakland’s Reggie McKenzie was in the hot seat and with good reason after two years of inefficient drafting. He stepped up his game and ended up drafting the foundation of the current team in 2014. Since then, McKenzie has been able to build a Super Bowl caliber team after years of patient planning and refraining himself from making inefficient moves. Similarly, he saved up money to pay said franchise players.

After paying those cornerstone players, he had some money left over. Most people would be happy with keeping assets that will help the team be a contender for years to come. Others loudly wonder why the team has to pay them, why players do not want to take a team-friendly deal forgetting in the process that said players are the ones breaking the bank to win games.

Right after the draft ended and the third wave of free-agency had come and gone, instead of celebrating all the new additions the team had got, many fans questioned how come McKenzie hadn’t gotten a middle linebacker, why he didn’t want to spend money on one and effectively contradicting themselves in the process. I am surprised their universe didn’t explode in irony at that moment.

Again, it’s easy to get lost and point fingers when things are not going that well. It is also easy to forget that McKenzie and all general managers are doing their job and most executives have a plan in place and follow a vision, even if said vision is flawed.

Fans are incredible and because of them, players and journalists like myself have a job, a job that I really enjoy. I seriously don’t mind being called out. If I made a mistake, I promise I will sincerely apologize for it and try to be a better writer because of it. While most fans are respectful and polite, there’s a flip side as it’s surprising when you see writers, players, and management get slurs thrown their way. Personally, I don’t mind the bashing, but it amazes me how a statement or comment can bring out the worst in others at times.

Being a fan is not easy, especially for a franchise that might not do much in the form of winning or at least trying to win. It is ok to express dissatisfaction and even vent. What is not ok is to arrive at the office and talk about how they would have gone for it on 4th and 1 or how they would have run the ball instead of throwing it if he/she were the coach. The proverbial “Monday Morning Quarterback”; if you aren’t annoyed by them, you are probably it.

It is easy to talk in hindsight about how we could have played the best game ever, so it is easy for some to forget that athletes and coaches have to make decisions in a split second. Again, it is perfectly fine to criticize, but not to pretend that we have it all figured out better than the professionals we pay to see.

Sports can get the best out of us; it is really great to follow a team from one generation to the next, to find out that your soul mate likes the same team or that it gets friends together when nothing else can.

Just remember that not all fans are vocal about how much they love their team; some prefer to sit back and quietly enjoy the game. By no means does this make them less of a fan as they simply appreciate it differently.

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Gabriel Martin

“Players and Sports Executives are under a lot of SCRUTINY” versus SCRUTINIES.