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The mind of a sports fan

| Friday, April 4, 2014

Being a sports fan is something that isn’t always easy to explain, especially when you really stop to think about it at a critical level. We trumpet and demand loyalty from players and deride them when they leave for more money. Yet, if the same situation were to happen in the real world then we’d be nodding and saying “good career move.”
Want a good example? The curious case of Jared Allen.
I hated Jared Allen. I have ever since he made it big with the Minnesota Vikings. I hated everything about him too, in that irrational way you’re only allowed towards an athletic figure. I hated that his redneck mullet. I hated that ridiculous sack dance of his where he mimicked lassoing a calf (and privately cheered when the NFL told him to cut that nonsense out), usually after planting a Chicago quarterback like a tree. I hated the way he turned Orlando Pace, a former Hall-of-Fame caliber offensive lineman, into mulch from their first meeting. And I hated how he was consistently better than my boy Julius Peppers in every statistical category.
So what am I supposed to do now?
Peppers left for the Green Bay Packers, of all teams. That would be tantamount to treason, if Peppers weren’t such a professional during his time in Chicago. And, in his place, we’re getting that fool who had people making Samson jokes because the first year after his wife made him shave his mullet included a slow start to the season, until he reminded us he might actually be Samson and finished the year with 11 sacks.
I’m supposed to cheer this guy?
He came from the Vikings. He caused me so much rage over so long a period of time that I almost feel him signing with the Bears is in fact a pity move on his part. And now he’s going to be wearing navy blue and burnt orange, and I’m supposed to cheer for this guy?
Who cares that one of his defining traits on the field was that infectious smile from beneath his monstrous facemask? Or how he clearly elevated his teammates with his energy? He played crowds like a rock star and clearly loved what he does. And now he’s a part of the Chicago Bears, and after having spent years wishing to see him get driven off the field a la The Blind Side, now I have to cheer for him like crazy.
And you know what? I will. I’ll reluctantly cheer for that Herculean man, even though it’ll always feel like he’s getting one last laugh at my expense: first, he drove me crazy, now I have to cheer him. But I will, Jared. I’ll cheer for you.
Through gritted teeth.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


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